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Given how easy it can be to rack up lots of miles and points, it’s no surprise that we’re often asked if it’s possible to send miles to a third party in exchange for cash. The short answer is yes, it’s possible, but it’s against the terms and conditions of virtually every loyalty program — while you can book travel for someone else, you can’t do so in exchange for cash. Stealing someone else’s miles, however, is flat-out illegal.
Milad Avazdavani has been in a Florida jail for a year now awaiting trial — he’s accused of stealing American Airlines miles worth “more than $260,000,” which he allegedly redeemed for hotels and rental cars.
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) April 30, 2016
According to reports, Avazdavani stole miles from many different American Airlines customers — one man who had 275,000 miles stolen noticed that someone had booked four plane tickets and two hotel stays without his permission. He contacted the police and the airline, which reinstated the stolen miles.
Airlines and hotel programs alike take fraud very seriously, and frequently add measures to protect accounts, as Marriott did last year. United Airlines even offers frequent flyer miles to customers who point out security flaws with its “Bug Bounty” program. Despite loyalty program efforts, however, individual users can still be taken advantage of if their credentials are compromised in some other way — for example, if your login information is compromised during a bank website breach and you use the same username and password on an airline or hotel program’s site, thieves could easily access your points and miles.
If you know that your login info has fallen into the wrong hands, be sure to change your password for any accounts with matching credentials. If a thief does manage to steal your points or miles, the program will likely work to have them restored, especially if the program is at fault. That said, it’s best to avoid that situation if you can help it.
Have you had your points or miles stolen?
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards