Protect Your Points and Miles Before You Get Married
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Getting married is great, don’t get us wrong. But if you’re a big points enthusiast like we are, you may have racked up millions of miles and want to protect those assets in the event you and your partner split up. Each of you come into marriage with miles on your credit cards or airline accounts and it’s common to want to safeguard that property.
“Generally speaking, people who are just getting married do not think about protecting something as untraditional as airline miles as part of their prenuptial agreement,” says Jordana Barish, a matrimonial and family law attorney and partner at the Manhattan law firm, Garr Silpe, P.C. “However, in a divorce situation, parties want to leave the marriage with their fair share of the marital assets, one of which is the mileage they accrued during their marriage. The reality is airline miles equal money.”
In the pre-wedding bliss, no one thinks about their miles. They don’t think about not wanting to share them. It is only afterward that they argue about it.
“A divorcing spouse may ask, ‘Why should my spouse get all the benefits of all of our marital years of travel?'” said Barish, adding that it is commonplace for couples to distribute such assets.
For example, when a family or a couple accumulates miles, neither one wants to lose that ability to travel after they break up and they have to be shared or split equitably. By spelling this out before you get married in the form of a prenuptial agreement, you may be able to avoid more drama later. This can be accomplished either in a specific sense, meaning that the parties state how points and miles will be treated if a divorce occurs, or in a general sense, meaning that it would fall under a provision regarding how property accumulated during the marriage will be divided.
Lawyers advise clients to discuss this matter during prenuptial negotiations since airline points and miles are considered to be a valuable asset.
“Division of points, however, can be tricky if the points are held in only one party’s name and the credit card company will not allow a transfer, in which case you might be left to consider the value which is usually cents to the point,” cautions Kelly A. Frawley, a lawyer at the NYC firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, LLP.
Another issue that might arise is one spouse using points while the divorce is pending without getting the consent of the other party, which might not be wrong, but can upset the party who did not get to use them.
“Truth be told, points are usually a last-minute issue addressed in a divorce because there are more significant issues, like custody or the division of more valuable assets,” says Frawley. “But, that said, in high-conflict cases, they can result in a lot of back and forth where the company will not allow a transfer, and although they might not have much value, parties will spend time and money on the issue simply because one party just doesn’t want the other party to retain all of them.”
In order to properly address this in a prenuptial agreement, rather than waiting for the event of a divorce, a lawyer would include a provision that airline points and miles accumulated during the marriage would be separate property retained by the individual in whose name they are held. Or, conversely that the airline points and miles would be marital property and subject to division at the time of a divorce.
So, whether you draft a prenuptial agreement or not — and this would be dependent on one’s financial situation at the time of marriage — it is important to properly identify each party’s points and miles, including the amount of points in question, to avoid any potential divorce drama down the road.
Have you had any issues splitting up your points and miles post-marriage? Tell us about it below.
Featured image courtesy of David Cleveland via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees