5 Unique Travel Holiday Gift Ideas Using Frequent Flyer Miles and Points
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There are a million gift ideas out there to get your loved one this holiday season and I've even highlighted some of my favorites in my Travelers Gift Guide. However, often the best gifts aren't those you can buy in stores, but ones that are unique and come from the heart.
Being an expert in miles and points is truly a skill and most people don't have the time or energy to master our trade, hobby or whatever you consider it. So for you hardcore points hounds out there, offering your expertise to help someone else travel smart - and better - in 2012 is a fantastic gift. Here are some of my more offbeat ideas on points-related gift ideas:
1) Give the gift of an additional American Express Platinum Card. Having this piece of plastic in your wallet gives you access to a ton of valuable travel benefits including:
Lounge access to Delta, American and US Airways club lounges
Priority Pass Select Membership which gives free access to tons of international lounges and Alaska Airlines lounges
Free Global Entry ($100 value)
Elite status: Starwood Gold, Hertz Gold, Avis Preferred
Purchase protection and much more
Cost: The primary card costs $450 a year and for $175 you can get up to 3 additional cards. So if you get three, the cost per card is $58.33 each - not too shabby to give someone all of those benefits - plus you can set their spending power to $200 so you don't have to worry about them running up your account (but even if they do you get to keep the points as the primary cardholder). In fact, additional cardholders also get the benefit of your good credit, so this could be the gift that gives many times over.
2) Offer your assistance helping to create a cohesive frequent flyer and credit card strategy. I used to do phone consults to help people set travel goals and figure out ways to achieve them with the right frequent flyer program, elite status and credit cards. I know for a fact this is a service many people need and most don't have the time or money to use. Plus, as many of you know - starting from scratch and becoming savvy with miles and points is quite time-consuming (but obviously very rewarding!).
Offering to sit down and help someone sort through all of the different options is a thoughtful and potentially very valuable gift. Of course, you can always point people to my Beginner's Guide and Top Deals page for the best credit card deals, but offering an official consultation is a cheap and fun gift idea.
3) Offer award booking help or buy it from a professional. I also used to do award bookings (but simply don't have the time these days, unfortunately) and there is a huge market for people who have miles, but don't know how to book the actual awards. Offering your assistance to help someone book a trip is a thoughtful gift, though you may find them coming back to you time and time again!
If you don't feel comfortable offering your expertise, you can always offer to pay for professional award consulting. There are a couple of services I recommend including Matthew at UPGRD, Points Pros and Book Your Award. There are a ton of new sites offering this service, but I haven't personally used any. However, feel free to comment below if you run an award booking site, though note I don't endorse or have a business relationship with any of them.
4) Give the gift of points. Most loyalty programs will let you buy miles and points for ridiculously expensive prices. However, if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards account you can transfer your points to anyone. So if your brother is a United traveler and needs 5,000 miles in order to get enough miles for a trip to Europe, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points directly into his United account instantly and without any fees. FYI Amex does charge small excise fees for US transfer partners and will make you link any external accounts to your Membership Rewards account.
5) Gift elite status. Many frequent flyer programs will let you gift elite status. For example, Delta Platinums can gift Silver status to someone and Diamonds can gift Silver and Gold status. Elite status is hard to value, but if used enough it can save hundreds on fees and even open doors to upgrades and preferential treatment.
Got any great points- and miles-related gift ideas of your own? Comment below, or tweet me.