We often get the question...'can I buy a plane ticket for someone else with my miles'? Yes, but make certain of a few things first...
This is a question we have received consistently...simply because the airlines' frequent flyer programs can make it confusing.
That's because airlines put the mileage award information in their 'fine print', so to speak. Rest assured...in most cases, you can use your miles to book a ticket for someone else.
Start by Reading the Airline's Terms
I know...tedious and BORING! But you need to know the carrier's rules so you don't pay more and/or incur fees on your reservation that you don't need to.
Airlines and credit card issuers have different policies about how to use reward travel miles. For example, some airlines allow you to book flights for others using your airline miles if they are traveling under the same itinerary as you or can be booked on the same flight.
Some airlines may even allow you to transfer airline miles from one account holder to another in order to redeem awards travel (which we'll cover below). If you're not sure what the airline's policy is, keep reading on so you'll be prepared...
Booking the Flight with Your Award Miles...
First off, know that the majority of carriers will let you book miles/award tickets online and will allow you to book a flight for someone else with your miles.
Typically, you need to be the person making the booking for whomever your reserving the flight for. It's really not any different than booking for yourself, but you must submit the correct information for the transaction to go through.
Passenger Name: The name of the actual flyer you are booking for
Date of Birth: Their birthday
Address: Their address (that matches their ID!)
Any other pertinent information that a particular airline requires on their website. The key in all this is that the personal information must match the recipient flying and it must match their ID. You do not want the person you booked for arriving at the airport with identification that doesn't match.
NOTE: Some carriers will not let you book online on their website rewards program. Simply call them and go through the booking process with a phone agent. Yes, more hassle, but sometimes you cannot avoid this depending on the airline.
Book a Flight for Someone Else Using YOUR Miles...Or Transfer the Miles to Them?
It's 'easy' to transfer points...but do you want to?
As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to avoid transferring your miles to someone else, usually because there can be fees involved.
Airlines have different airline miles transfer rates and airline mile conversion fees. Airline miles are different from carrier to carrier and therefore there is no such thing as a standard airline mile conversion fee. To find out more about airline miles, visit the airline's website or call their customer service line.
If You're Going to Transfer Airline Miles....
Giving airline miles to someone else is known as "transferring airline miles", and there could be several reasons why one might want to transfer miles:
- It's a nice gesture. You can give airline miles to others for their birthday, for Christmas or even simply because you feel like it. Some people buy airline tickets for friends or family members (or as a work bonus), but if you don't have the budget at that time then this is a great alternative.
- You can help another person travel if they are unable to do so themselves. This could be because they have health problems, disabilities or financial problems.
- Airline points systems are becoming more complex these days with more airline programs than ever before, so transferring airline points between accounts could make sense for someone who is intimidated on how to use miles.
Know the Airline and/or Credit Card Rules Before You Make the Transfer
However, before you do this, it’s important that you review the airline's policy about booking and transferring tickets for others. For example, some airlines will not let members book a ticket on behalf of someone else or redeem airline miles for award flights on behalf of someone else.
In addition, some credit card issuers have restrictions about how many points/miles can be transferred each year.
If your point/mile balance is nearing its annual limit, it may make sense to wait until next year when your balance resets before making any changes so as not to exceed the limit again in one year’s time.
Keep in mind that most airlines have varying rules and polices around buying tickets for people who are not immediate family members or travelling companions. So be sure to check out what each airline's policy is on this before making any purchase decisions.
Can I Combine My Air Miles with My Spouse?
Many times people want to 'pool' (known as points pooling) their miles together in order to have a large single pool in order to redeem for a ticket(s).
As it stands right now most of the major U.S. airlines do NOT allow you to combine your miles. However , there are 3 that allow various forms of combining miles:
1. JetBlue: JetBlue is the most flexible in that they allow you to combine miles with a total of 7 members of family OR friends.
2. Frontier: Frontier has family pooling up to 8 members but the one 'head' pooler must be Elite status. There are other restrictions as well.
3. Hawaiian Airlines: They don't allow family pooling...only to share miles with a Hawaiian credit card holder.
For a more in-depth look at combining miles see this great breakdown by The Points Guy.
A Word on Selling Miles to Someone Else
In a word, don't. For almost all carriers, this is against their terms of service. It can be hard for the airline to actually tell if you've sold your miles to someone else, but if they do catch you, it usually ends up with your miles/awards being deemed invalid and they'll cancel...and shut your account down.
They don't like it at all.
Airline Miles Redemption Information: Popular Carriers
Here are the main U.S. carriers and their loyalty program information. Always be aware that information presented by the airlines is subject to change...so keep checking back when looking to redeem.