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Quick Points: Free points and miles for referring friends to loyalty programs and credit cards

July 15, 2022
8 min read
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Earning credit card welcome bonuses is one of the fastest ways to scoop up a massive amount of travel rewards.

Likewise, you can effortlessly replenish your stash of points and miles via referral bonuses.

If your friends or family members are not as entrenched in the world of free travel as you, you're in luck: There are hundreds of thousands of points you can earn by referring them to various loyalty programs and credit cards.

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They probably already ask you how you’re able to achieve the incredible travel feats that they witness on your Instagram account anyway, so you may as well accrue some extra points and miles with their help. All you have to do is send them a referral link to whichever cards and loyalty programs have helped you to achieve it. If they apply for a card and are approved, you'll be rewarded with more points.

Here’s a quick rundown of popular credit cards and loyalty programs that offer refer-a-friend bonuses.

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Credit card issuers

When you send a credit card referral code to a friend, you’ll be rewarded after they’re approved. It often takes weeks for this bonus to appear on your account.

All credit card referral bonus terms stipulate some sort of annual cap. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express will only allow you to earn 55,000 points per calendar year from referrals. However, you can earn hundreds of thousands of points per year if you have multiple cards, as each has its own referral limits.

Just note that credit card referrals may be taxable, so check with a tax professional before you start sending out referral links.

Related: How to refer friends and earn points, miles or cash credit

American Express

American Express credit cards are perhaps the most lucrative in the refer-a-friend game, as they consistently offer above-average bonuses and a wide range of referral opportunities.

To begin the referral process, head to the American Express refer-a-friend landing page. To generate a unique referral code, you’ll have to either log into your account with a password or enter your credit card details.

(Screenshot courtesy of americanexpress.com)

Select the card with which you’d like to earn the referral bonus. Bonuses vary greatly depending on the card. For example, you may earn 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points by referring someone to the Amex Platinum or 15,000 Delta SkyMiles if you refer someone to the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Offers are subject to change.

You can email your friends through the Amex website or copy your unique referral link and share it via text, social media or however else you communicate. You can even refer friends to cards you don’t have (step-by-step instructions are available here).

(Screenshot courtesy of americanexpress.com)

Chase

Unlike American Express, you can only refer friends to a Chase credit card that you have. Referral offers tend to range from 5,000 to 20,000 points, depending on the card.

Head to the Chase refer-a-friend page and enter your last name, ZIP code and the last four digits of your credit card number to get your referral link.

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

You can then copy your unique code and send it to your friends. You’ll soon be able to see your pending bonus points through the Chase travel portal website on your rewards dashboard.

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

Capital One

Capital One takes a more targeted approach to its referral offers. You can head to the Capital One referral page and enter your account details to see if you’re eligible to participate.

Capital One may also send you an email letting you know that you’re approved to refer friends. Simply click the “View Offer” button to go to a page with your referral link.

(Screenshot courtesy of capitalone.com)

When your friends click this link, they’ll have various Capital One credit cards to choose from — not just the card you used to refer them.

(Screenshot courtesy of capitalone.com)

Discover

Discover referral codes are especially valuable to your friends for one big reason: Discover credit cards don’t come with a conventional welcome bonus.

You won’t get a certain amount of points or cash back after meeting minimum spending requirements. Instead, you’ll get all the cash back you’ve earned during your first 12 months of card membership matched.

If your friend applies through your link, they’ll also get the ability to earn bonus cash after making their first purchase within three months of opening an account.

You can navigate to the Discover refer-a-friend page and log into your account to get started.

You’ll then receive a unique code that you can send to friends and family. When your friends click on the link, they’ll see their referral bonus at the top of the screen.Hotels

Some hotel programs also participate in referral bonuses. They’re not nearly as generous as credit card bonuses, but they’re easy to open and refer to. All your friend or family member needs to do is accept your invitation to create a hotel loyalty account, then you’ll be rewarded after they complete a stay.

Related: Earn bonus points by registering for hotel promotions

Hotel loyalty programs

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy rewards both you and the person you refer. You’ll get 2,000 points for each stay your friend completes, up to five stays per referral. You can earn a maximum of 50,000 points per calendar year. Your friend will earn 2,000 bonus points per stay as well — up to 10,000 bonus points.

Find the Marriott refer-a-friend page and click “Send Invites” in the graphic at the top of the page.

(Screenshot courtesy of marriott.com)

You will then find a form where you can enter multiple email addresses. Submit some personal information, including your Marriott Bonvoy loyalty number, and Marriott will email your friends for you.

(Screenshot courtesy of marriott.com)

Marriott Bonvoy points are worth 0.84 cents each, per TPG's valuations. The ability to earn up to 10,000 points per friend means you’ll net about $84 in travel.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels is a bit stingy on the number of bonus points you’ll receive per referred friend, but there’s also no cap on how many bonus points you can earn. Both you and your friend will get 500 bonus points after their first points-eligible stay.

Head to the Choice refer-a-friend landing page and log into your account.

(Screenshot courtesy of choicehotels.com)

On the next page, you can enter your friends’ first names and email addresses. Submit the form, and Choice will email them to your friends and family for you.

Choice Privileges points are worth 0.6 cents each, per TPG's valuations. Earning 500 points is equivalent to earning $3 in travel.

(Screenshot courtesy of choicehotels.com)

Bottom line

Referral bonuses are a sleeper method for stockpiling travel rewards. One reason it’s so easy to do is because friends and family members often want to replicate the fun adventures they see you performing.

It's a win-win, too. You'll help your friends and family by showing them how easy it can be to collect points and miles through credit cards and hotel loyalty programs. On the flip side, you'll earn some extra points for your future trips. This tip can single-handedly fund a yearly vacation.

Stoyan Yotov/Shutterstock.com.

Featured image by (Photo by Stoyan Yotov/Shutterstock.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases