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Earning frequent flyer miles for your kids just got a little easier

Dec. 31, 2020
9 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

You already know flying with a little kiddo isn't always easy, but historically it wasn't always easy to open a frequent flyer account for your children either. There can be extra steps for creating these accounts for minors with red tape such as enrollment and consent forms, phone calls and the necessity of extra email addresses.

However, one major U.S. airline -- Delta -- actually just made it much easier for kids to earn miles as it eliminated the need to download, complete and send in a separate form just to register a child for a SkyMiles account. Now, you simply click a button verifying you are the child's parent or guardian and you can open the SkyMiles account instantly online.

Related: TPG’s best airlines for families

But while Delta just made it easier to earn miles for your kids, some other programs are still more complex. TPG has already written about why kids who fly need their own email addresses for loyalty program purposes. That, too, can be tricky because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that protects the privacy of children under 13. Some online providers will not issue an email address if they know it is for a minor. But there are special products and workarounds that can help such as Google's Family Link.

What other hurdles might you have to jump? Let's take a look, airline by airline. And remember, you have to buy a seat for your child in order for him or her to earn miles. Lap infants might earn passport stamps, but they don't earn miles.

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Alaska Airlines

How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian can enroll a child in Mileage Plan online (click the "Sign Up" button on the homepage) if they are at least 13, or by calling customer care (800-654-5669) or the reservations call center (800-252-7522) if they are under 13.

Required info: Minor's name, gender, date of birth, address and phone number, plus an email address and preferred user ID if you sign up for an online account

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Note: Children under 13 are not eligible for an online My Account profile, but can be enrolled in Mileage Plan by calling Alaska Airlines at 1-(800) 252-7522.

Snoozing in an Alaska Airlines first class seat. (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Related: Airline car seat and bassinet policies around the world

American Airlines

How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian needs to enroll a child who's 13 or younger. You may do so online. Go to AA.com's homepage and click "AAdvantage" and then "Join AAdvantage."

Notably, American Airlines recently ceased expiring the miles of children who are enrolled in AAdvantage as you are now exempt from the requirement to earn or redeem miles every 18 months until after you turn 21.

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, email, phone number, a preferred username and three security questions. If your child has a Known Traveler Number, you enter it on the enrollment form as well.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage.

Delta

How kids can join: Parents can now enroll children 13 and under online for a SkyMiles account by simply clicking a button certifying they are the parent or guardian. You will need to enter an email address, user name, password and answer two security questions such as father's middle name, first school or first pet.

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth and address.

Note: As a new member, the child can receive mileage credit for flights taken up to nine months prior to enrollment.

Related: How to save your family money with an annual Delta companion ticket

Frontier

How kids can join: Parents can register their children (13 or younger) for their own Frontier frequent flyer account online (go to the homepage and click the "sign up" text in the upper right corner) or by contacting the call center at (801) 401-9000.

Required info: Minor's name, gender, date of birth, address, telephone number plus an email address if signing up for an online account.

Note: As with adult Frontier Miles accounts, your child's miles will expire after six months if there is no activity. However, Frontier does offer family pooling to those with elite status or the cobranded Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, so it is possible to pool child and parent miles together.

Related: Everything you need to know about Frontier's Kids Fly Free program

Flying Frontier Airlines' extra legroom seats. (Summer Hull / The Points Guy.)

Hawaiian Airlines

How kids can join: Parents can enroll their kids in HawaiianMiles online (click "Join Now" on the homepage) or by calling reservations (1-800-367-5320) or the HawaiianMiles service center (1-877-426-4537).

Required info: Username and email address for online account plus name, gender, date of birth, address and phone number. You'll also have to set up three account security questions, select any email subscriptions and accept the terms of the HawaiianMiles program.

Note: Hawaiian Airlines considers anyone 18 or under a minor but a parent or legal guardian can sign their child up for a frequent flyer account.

Related: 5 reasons to fly Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii

(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

JetBlue

How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian can enroll kids 13 years old or younger into JetBlue TrueBlue. Log into your TrueBlue account and open the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right corner. Choose "enroll a child."

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, email address, phone number, physical address, gender, Known Traveler Number (if your child has Global Entry or TSA PreCheck) and whether or not you want your child's points pooled with your family account. JetBlue offers family pooling to all members, with no elite status or credit card required.

Note: Your child's email account must not be used by any other JetBlue member.

Related: 10 tips for flying JetBlue with kids

Southwest Airlines

How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian has to enroll their child in Southwest Rapid Rewards. You can do so online (click "enroll" at the top of the homepage), via the Southwest mobile app or by calling reservations at 1-800-248-4377.

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, email address, username and two security questions

Related: How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Spirit

How kids can join: A parent or legal guardian must enroll children who are 13 or younger. Sign up online. Click "Sign-In" on the homepage and then click "Sign Up Now." Under the current Free Spirit loyalty program, miles expire very quickly, so it might not have been worth your time to enroll your kids unless they took Spirit flights every couple months. But as the revamped Free Spirit program launches on Jan. 21, 2021, this issue is no longer a problem, since the points won’t expire unless there are 12 months of no account activity.

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, email address and physical address.

Related: Here are five things to love about Spirit Airlines

United

How kids can join: Sign up online at United's website. Click "Sign in" at the upper right of the homepage and then click "Enroll in MileagePlus."

Required info: Minor's name, date of birth, gender, address, phone number and email address.

Note: Only individuals 18 and older can sign up for a United MileagePlus account on their own. A parent or legal guardian must enroll their children who are under 18.

Related: Guide to maximizing United's frequent flyer program

Bottom line

At least within the U.S., it is never too early to sign your kids up for a frequent flyer account -- especially now that miles from many airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest never expire. Even American Airlines will no longer expire the miles of kids until after they turn 21, so start your kids earning miles now so they can get a free award ticket down the line.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Photo courtesy of Lisa5201/Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images

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  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.