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‘Tis the season of giving — here at TPG, that means it’s time to extend a helping hand to your fellow readers, in the form of expiring and unused upgrade certificates, lounge passes, drink tickets and other airline elite and credit card perks.

First, I’d offer any expiring perks to family members, co-workers and friends, or see if there’s any way to take advantage yourself. Then, if your certificates and passes are still destined to disappear in early 2019, please consider sharing them with another reader instead. Additionally, if you could benefit from someone else’s upgrades, please follow the instructions below.

If you’re looking to share your own certificate or pass: Please post a comment at the bottom of this post, including a description of the item, the quantity you have to give away, the expiration date and any other restrictions associated with it. Provide your email address for readers to contact you directly (it might be a good idea to set up a separate email address for this purpose). Then, when you have successfully transferred a benefit to a reader, post a follow-up reply to your original comment with the word “COMPLETED” so other readers know that the benefit is taken and not to contact you.

If you’re hoping to receive someone else’s certificate or pass: Contact the poster directly with an explanation of how you’ll put it to use — or, if you don’t see a benefit listed that you’d like to have, add a request, including an email address of your own. Please include any applicable details (like travel dates, class of service, etc.) to make sure you can actually use the benefit. Be brief and respectful, and recognize that the individual with the benefit has complete discretion to decide who should receive it.

Here are some additional ground rules for the exchange:

  • This is not meant to encourage the purchase of benefits. Most programs expressly forbid you from selling upgrade certificates, miles or other perks, and even exchanging them could be frowned upon. We even had a reader once let us know that United opened an investigation when he applied some Global Premier Upgrades to readers’ reservations, so just be careful if you try to trade with someone.
  • Be sure you’re only posting transferable benefits. There are many perks out there that are specific to the individual traveler, such as Hyatt and Marriott suite upgrade certificates. Please don’t attempt to share perks that must be used by the account holder.
  • Make sure both parties fully understand the restrictions of the benefit. Most upgrade certificates require specific fare classes or inventory in order to be used. Make sure that you have done your due diligence in researching the benefit, regardless of whether you are the giver or the recipient. For flight awards, ExpertFlyer (and the site’s award inventory alerts) can be a big help in making sure there’s upgrade inventory on your flight(s), and you can also use the search box on this site to find detailed posts on these perks.

Here are a few suggestions for benefits you can share and request:

1. Alaska Gold Guest Upgrades: Top Alaska Airlines elites, including MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K flyers, receive four certificates that can be used to confirm first-class upgrades on an economy ticket, either for the member, their companions or other customers traveling on their own. These upgrades clear into the “U” fare bucket and can be applied to most Alaska-operated flights. These can be shared with any eligible customer simply by passing along the certificate number. Alaska upgrades expire on December 31 of the year they’re issued.

Use Alaska upgrades to fly first class. Photo by Jessica Puckett.

2. American Systemwide Upgrades: American Executive Platinum elites receive four systemwide upgrades that can be used to move from economy to business class or business to first class on any American or American Eagle flight. You can earn two more upgrades after accruing 150,000 elite-qualifying miles and an additional two after hitting 200,000 EQMs. To share a certificate, you’ll need to call the Executive Platinum line and provide the confirmation number of the passenger you wish to upgrade. These upgrades expire on January 31 of the year after they’re issued.

3. United Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) and Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs): United Premier Platinum members receive two RPUs, while Premier 1K members receive six GPUs and two RPUs — in addition to the two RPUs accrued once 1Ks hit the requirements for Platinum. 1Ks can earn an additional two RPUs for every 25,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) and two GPUs for every 50,000 PQMs. So a 1K who finishes the year with 200,000 PQMs will have earned a total of 10 RPUs and 10 GPUs. These upgrades can be shared online or via a reservations agent — you’ll need to provide the confirmation number and last name of the passenger you wish to upgrade. United certificates expire on January 31 of the year after they’re issued, but there may be an opportunity to extend two GPUs.

4. Lounge passes, drink tickets and more: This category can include airline lounge passes issued as a credit card or hotel elite status perk, drink tickets sent in airline elite status welcome packets and more. These benefits expire on a rolling basis, so check the certificate to confirm validity before offering to share. Note that some may be shared electronically, while others are only available in paper form, and will need to be mailed.

Finally, as a reminder, you’re not limited to the perks listed at the top of this post — you can share or request any benefits you’d like, as long as transfers are permitted by the program’s terms and conditions. Please play by the rules, and don’t trade your certificates for cash — it’s not worth having your loyalty program account shut down just to make a few bucks.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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