Give the gift of free points with these 5 loyalty programs
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If you’re a road warrior who has built up a big balance of miles and points, you may not be eager to hop on another plane. But, with plenty of gift-giving on the horizon, you might also be thinking about turning that big balance of points into gifts for friends and family.
Not all loyalty programs allow you to give your points away for free — and some make it complicated. Here, we’ve outlined the programs that don’t charge you a fee to give away your points and miles to others. This isn’t to be confused with programs that allow you to book an airline ticket or hotel in someone else’s name or those that support some version of family/friends pooling. Instead, these are programs that let you transfer your points totally free.
Let’s take a closer look.
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Programs that let you transfer points for free
As discussed, there are a very limited number of programs that let you send points without a fee — here’s a look.
Citi ThankYou Rewards
The ThankYou Rewards program may not get the same attention as some of the larger flexible points programs, but they have one of the most relaxed policies in terms of who you can transfer your points to.
In short, you can transfer points to any ThankYou Rewards member – but there are a few very important restrictions. First, you can only transfer a total of 100,000 points a year. Similarly, each member can only receive 100,000 points per year. Second, and maybe even more important, if you transfer points to another ThankYou Rewards member they have 90 days to redeem those points. Typically, these transfers happen instantly.
While 100,000 points are probably not enough for a luxurious week in the Maldives but it can still make a pretty nice gift for the points and miles fan in your life. The recipient can use points for a number of excellent redemptions, like transferring just 15,000 points to Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles for a round-trip ticket from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii.
Similar to ThankYou Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy will let you transfer points to any Bonvoy member. And, just like Citi, you can only transfer 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to a member each year. Unfortunately, Marriott requires you to contact someone from customer service to transfer your points, so you’ll have to spend some time on the phone.
Prior to Marriott’s recent announcement that they were eliminating award charts, 100,000 points was barely enough for one night at the priciest properties for award redemptions. In turn, the recipient may have to set their sights a bit lower and score a couple of nights at a property like the brand-new Swan Reserve at Disney World, depending on how award prices fluctuate next year.
The good news? Transfers should happen instantly once processed, making it a great last-minute gift for a loved one that needs a getaway.
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt is more generous in the number of points they allow you to transfer to another member, though the process is a bit more cumbersome.
You’ll actually need to download a form from the Hyatt website, fill it out and submit it via email. The rules state that you can only make one transfer every 30 days and that the purpose of the transfer is to combine enough points for a specific reward (though you won’t be asked to complete the reservation as part of the transfer process).
There are reports that the transfers take place pretty quickly after the transfer form is submitted, but we definitely don’t recommend waiting until the last minute.
Radisson Rewards has two separate policies on giving your points away as a gift depending on your status level.
If you’re an elite member in their loyalty program you can transfer your points to any member. If you’re not an elite member you can only transfer points to someone else in your household. Further, both loyalty accounts need to have been open for at least a year with no address changes on either account within the past 30 days.
Keep in mind that if you want to book a Radisson property overseas you’ll actually need two different loyalty accounts (which you can link).
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
If you hold the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard you can transfer points to another member who holds the credit card, whether they’re a primary cardholder or authorized user. That’s a bit of a niche example but, if you enjoy flying Hawaiian Airlines on a regular basis, it can easily make sense to hold their credit card.
The information for the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Beware of the rest
Many other airline and hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points to someone else … for a fee.
In some cases, those fees can be pretty brutal just for the privilege of transferring your hard-earned points and miles. You’re generally better off buying miles or points when there’s a sweet deal rather than paying to give yours away. Just remember that it’s rarely a good idea to buy miles and points unless you (or your recipient) have a specific trip in mind. Award availability and award charts can and will change without notice, leaving you with miles you might not be able to use.
Take a jump in the family (points) pool
One other option to consider is a program that allows pooling of your points or miles.
There are plenty of airlines that won’t allow you to transfer points without a fee but are perfectly fine letting you pool points. Some airlines are downright awesome when it comes to defining the “family” you can pool your points with (we’re looking at you, Aeroplan). Many of the others have stricter rules on who you can pool your points and miles with.
But you should still find plenty of opportunities to make someone’s dream trip come true. Read our full guide to programs that offer family points pooling for more information.
Whether you want to give someone a reward for a job well done or just want to fly your family home for the holidays, there is a long list of reasons why travel can be an excellent gift. The list of programs that make it easy to give miles or points for free is a bit on the short side, but if you think a bit further outside the box you can multiply the permutations to give someone the ability to take a dream trip.
Specifically, World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy are both partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you have a bunch of Ultimate Rewards, it may make sense to transfer them to Hyatt or Marriott before gifting (according to our monthly valuations you’re better off transferring to Hyatt). Hawaiian Airlines is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards (and Marriott, for that matter). Connect the dots and you may find the perfect formula to wrap up some points or miles this year.
Feature photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy
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