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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Tuesdays and Thursdays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
Flexible points programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are popular thanks to their ability to transfer points to many different airline and hotel partners. But TPG reader Amrit asks if its okay to send points to someone else’s outside loyalty account…
Which flexible points programs allow a transfer to a mileage account that does not match the name of the credit card holder?TPG Reader Amrit
Let’s start by clarifying this question — what Amrit is asking is not whether one can transfer points from one Ultimate Rewards account to another Ultimate Rewards account, but rather if someone can send points from their own Ultimate Rewards account to someone else’s United MileagePlus or World of Hyatt loyalty account. That’s an important distinction, because the rules are different for each option and at each bank. Let’s take them one by one.
When it comes to Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer to the airline or hotel accounts of others, but there are three basic rules. First, the person receiving the points into their loyalty account must be an authorized user on the credit card you’re transferring the points from. Second, you can only do this with one authorized user, and third, that person must reside at the same address as you.
So for example, if you wanted to transfer Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to someone else’s Singapore KrisFlyer account, you’d need to first add that person as an authorized user to your Sapphire Preferred. That’s not a huge hurdle since there’s no fee to add authorized user cards on a CSP, but it could potentially affect the other person’s credit report since you’re issuing a credit card in their name. On the other hand, if you’ve just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you actually get bonus points for adding an authorized user and making a purchase within the first three months, so there’s an upside as well.
The rules for Chase business cards such as the Ink Business Preferred are slightly different — cardholders can transfer to their own loyalty programs, or to those of an owner of the company who is also listed as an authorized user on the account. And both personal and business cards have identical rules for transferring points between individual Ultimate Rewards accounts, except in that case you don’t need to be an authorized user — you can transfer points to one member of your household who also has an Ultimate Rewards account, or to the owner of the business for business cards.
American Express has a transfer policy that’s similar to Chase’s, but slightly more generous in one respect in that you’re not limited to just one authorized user. So with a card like the Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express, you can add as many authorized users as you’d like for free and transfer points to their airline or hotel accounts. Just remember that Amex doesn’t allow any transfers between Membership Rewards accounts other than your own.
Citi ThankYou Rewards doesn’t allow any points to be transferred to another person’s outside mileage account, such as an Avianca LifeMiles account. But you can transfer ThankYou points to any other ThankYou member, regardless of whether they’re a household member, via the bank’s Points Sharing feature. The only restrictions are that you can only share and receive a total of 100,000 ThankYou points in a calendar year, and shared points are only valid for 90 days from the date they’re received. So make sure your points are ready to be used in a timely manner before making a ThankYou points transfer to someone else.
And to round out all four major flexible points programs, Starwood Preferred Guest also won’t let you transfer points to frequent flyer accounts other than your own, but you can transfer points to another person’s SPG account. There’s no limit on the number of points you can transfer — the only rule is that the other person must have shared the same household address as you for at least 30 days.
Finally, Amrit, don’t forget that even if you can’t transfer points to someone else’s frequent flyer account, you can always book a ticket in their name using your own miles and your own account. So with all these options, you should be able to find a way to get the points where you need them. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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