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How to Book Flights for Someone Else with Miles (rules for 20+ programs)

How to Book Flights for Someone Else with Miles (rules for 20+ programs)

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Apr 02, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Have some extra miles in the bank and want to use them to book a flight for a friend or family member? Most programs will allow you to use them quite easily. But others may require you to jump through some hoops before the miles can be redeemed.

As a general rule, it usually makes more sense to use your miles to book a flight for someone rather than transferring them as there are oftentimes fees associated with transfers. A common exception would be to top up someone’s miles because they are very close to having enough to redeem them for a valuable award. In this case, transferring your miles could cost less than buying more miles.

Be aware that miles transferred from one account to another do not count towards elite status.

Also keep in mind that selling miles or points to someone is against the terms and conditions for most programs. While you may be able to get away with it, do so at your own risk because your account will likely be shut down if the airline finds out.

We take a look at the booking and transfer policies for major global airlines and credit card issuers, as well as show how much it will cost so you can make the best decision when it comes to sharing your miles with others.

 

U.S. airline programs

Alaska Airlines MileagePlan™

Book an award ticket for anyone through your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account for free. You can also transfer them into the account of a friend or family member, but at a cost.

You’re allowed to transfer between 1,000 and 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000 miles at $10 per 1,000 miles, plus a $25 processing fee, per transaction. In most cases, miles will post to the transferred account immediately, but may take up to 72 hours. Transferred miles are not refundable or reversible and do not count toward MVP Gold status.

American Airlines AAdvantage®

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own account by simply making the reservation in the name of the passenger you want to use your miles for.

You can buy or gift between 2,000 and 150,000 miles — but it will cost you between $94 and $4,460. We recommend buying AAdvantage miles only when on the threshold for reward travel or a seat upgrade. When using miles for a gift, you’re better off just booking flights directly from your AAdvantage account rather than transferring them.

While you can transfer your AAdvantage miles from one account to another, you’ll pay a processing fee of $15 plus a cost ranging from $28.75 for 1,000 miles to $640 for 50,000 miles, although you get a 30% discount through April 30, 2019. Miles transfers are capped at 200,000 miles into or out of an account within a calendar year. Transferred miles don’t count toward AAdvantage elite status. Note that AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to share miles.

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles®

You can book an award ticket for anyone from your own Delta SkyMiles account, so transferring miles isn’t necessary. If you’re short on miles, you can buy more, between $70 for 2,000 miles and $2,100 for 60,000 miles. You can only buy up to 60,000 miles per calendar year.

Purchased miles are nonrefundable and they can’t go toward Medallion® Status. If you do need to transfer miles, it will cost you. Transfer your miles at a rate of 1 cent per mile, along with a processing fee of $30 per transaction, plus tax.

Frontier Airlines myFrontier℠

You can redeem awards for others under the myFrontier loyalty program. It’s also possible to buy or gift your Frontier miles to another person — but it will cost 2.5 cents per mile to transfer between 1,000 and 25,000 miles. This is an extremely high cost to transfer miles, so this option is not recommended unless the person you’re transferring to only needs a few miles to book award travel.

Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles

Hawaiian allows you to book a flight for someone else using Hawaiian miles. You can also transfer miles to another member for a $25 service fee and 1 cent per mile – with a minimum transfer of 2,000 Hawaiian miles. If you have a Hawaiian Miles-branded credit card, transfers are free and you can do 10 transactions per calendar year.

JetBlue® Airways TrueBlue

Book a flight for someone else using TrueBlue points from your own account. TrueBlue points may also be transferred for 1.25 cents per point to other TrueBlue members. A maximum of 30,000 points per transaction and 120,000 points per calendar year can be transferred. But you also have the option to do Points Pooling, where you can compile your points between two and seven members for free.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

You can book award tickets for others with points on Southwest, but only you can make changes to or cancel the reservation. You may also transfer Rapid Rewards points to another member, but it will cost $10 per 1,000 points, with a minimum transfer of 2,000 points. But if you buy 10,000 points or more, you’ll receive a 40% bonus. Unless someone needs only a few miles for an award flight, it doesn’t make sense to pay to transfer points to them, especially since you can book their flight using your points for free.

Spirit Airlines Free Spirit™

The airline doesn’t allow you to transfer your miles to someone else, but you can use them to book a flight for another passenger for free. You can also buy or gift loyalty program miles for $25 per 1,000 miles. When buying between 3,000 and 8,000 miles, you’ll receive a 10% bonus. For between 10,000 and 13,000 miles, it’s a 20% bonus and 30% for 16,000-plus miles. Don’t bother paying for miles unless you need just enough to snag an award flight.

United Airlines MileagePlus®

The airline allows you book an award ticket for anyone using your own miles. Plus, it gives you plenty of options if you want to bump up your cache, but it won’t be cheap. Buying more will cost you $35 per 1,000 miles. United offers a 40% bonus for purchases of between 5,000 ($175) and 25,000 ($875). Receive an 85% bonus for miles between 30,000 ($1,050) and 94,000 ($3,290).

You can buy up to 175,000 miles per account per calendar year and those miles don’t count toward MileagePlus status. It costs between $70 for 2,000 and a whopping $6,125 for 175,000 miles if you choose to gift them.

Airline Programs – International

Below are the policies for using frequent flyer miles to book flights for other people for the major airline transfer partners of Chase, Citibank®, and American Express®.

Air Canada Aeroplan

You can book a flight for someone else using your Aeroplan miles. You can also transfer miles from one Aeroplan account to another, online and instantaneously at a rate of 2 cents (CAD) per mile. Even in Canadian money, this is a really expensive, last-resort option.

Each Aeroplan member is limited to five transactions per account, per calendar year. You can transfer your Aeroplan Miles to three recipient members at one time; the maximum number of Aeroplan Miles that can be transferred to any one recipient during any one transaction is 999,999; the minimum amount is 1,000.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

You can book a flight for anyone using your Flying Blue miles for free, including the sometimes very lucrative promo awards on select routes for up to 50% off. Miles can be used on KLM, Air France, Aircalin, HOP!, Joon, Kenya Airways, Tarom and Transavia, in economy or business class. You must pay taxes and fees on award tickets.

You can transfer Flying Blue miles to other members for $3.40 per 250 miles at a maximum of 50,000 miles per transfer and up to 250,000 miles a year.

If you need extra miles, you can buy them starting at $62 per 2,000 miles, but only as a last resort because of the high cost. Those with basic Flying Blue Explorer status can buy up to 75,000 miles a year. Silver or higher status can buy an unlimited number of miles a year.

ANA Mileage Club

You can only redeem miles for up to second-degree family members, defined as such:

ana-family

Image source: Ana.co.jp

You cannot share or combine earned miles or transfer miles with other members, with the exception of the Family Account service. ANA Mileage Club members who reside outside Japan can register between two and eight family members, as defined above (including themselves) for this service. There is a nonrefundable registration fee of 1,000 miles. Miles will be combined upon redemption of an award.

British Airways Executive Club

You can book a flight for someone else using Avios at no cost. You can also pay to transfer up to 162,000 Avios, with a maximum of 27,000 Avios to any Executive Club Member, in a calendar year. You will be charged a nonrefundable fee of $20, plus a whopping $41 per 1,000 Avios transferred.

British Airways Gold members are able transfer up to 162,000 Avios a year for free to those on their family and friends list. However, Gold members can only transfer a maximum of 27,000 Avios points for free per recipient per year; recipients can receive up to 54,000 Avios points every year, half of which can be free and the other half paid.

Another option is to use a household account to pool your points with members of your household for free. You can pool your Avios with up to six people who live with you. Even children can join, so everyone in the family can collect Avios each time you travel. But note that household account members can’t redeem their Avios for anyone outside of the account. Changes to the registered household account address can only be made once every six months and Executive Club Members must be 18 years or older before they can spend their Avios.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

You can only redeem award tickets for five nominees in your redemption group. You may register the first five nominees in your membership lifetime with no fee applied. Thereafter, you can change up to three nominees per membership year with a service fee (online: $50; other channels, including the Asia Miles Service Centre, Asia Miles service desks at Hong Kong International Airport and any non-online self-service channels: $75).

Similarly, you can only transfer miles to a member of your redemption group. To transfer miles, the minimum block transfer is 10,000 miles for a service fee (online: $170; other channels: $250), and further blocks of 5,000 miles can be transferred for a service fee per block (online: $140; other channels: $200). Note that transferring miles extends their validity for a further three years from the date of transfer.

Emirates Skywards

Emirates allows you to book a flight for someone else using Skywards miles. If you choose to gift the miles, it costs $30 per 1,000 Skywards Miles, up to 100,000 miles each year. You can transfer miles to family or friends for $15 per 1,000 Miles, and you can transfer up 50,000 miles a year. Miles can only be transferred if the receiving account has at least one earning activity.

There’s also the My Family option, which allows you to pool your Skywards Miles with up to seven members of your immediate family, including: husband, wife, partner, son, stepson, daughter, stepdaughter, mother, mother-in-law, stepmother, father, father-in-law, stepfather, brother, sister, granddaughter, grandson and domestic helper. They must also be Skywards Miles members to participate in the program.

You’re allowed to set aside 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% the miles you earn for the My Family account.

Etihad Guest

You can book a flight for someone else using Etihad Guest miles, but you can’t transfer them to other accounts. However, Etihad Guest does let you pool all the miles earned by anyone in your family into a single account using a Family Membership. Up to eight members can be part of your family membership, including: brothers, sisters, father, mother, spouse(s), children, grandchildren, grandparents, parents-in-law, stepparents, stepchildren, stepsiblings, stepgrandchildren, nieces, nephews, and one household help member.

Iberia Plus

Like British Airways, Iberia uses Avios, but the values for redeeming them are different. You can book a flight for someone else using Avios, but if you want to transfer Avios to someone else, that can only be done online. You can transfer up to 100,000 Avios per calendar year. These limits apply to both the person who issues the Avios and the person who receives them. The minimum amount of Avios per transfer is 1,000 and the maximum is 24,000 per occurrence; the cost is between $34 and $180, depending on the amount being transferred.

Korean Air SkyPass

You may only redeem miles for registered family members, with proof of relationship. Family members may include the spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren.

Korean Air also offers a Family Plan where members with insufficient miles for an award redemption can supplement their miles with the miles of immediate family members. Up to five family members, including the registered member of the account, may redeem awards through Family Plan.

Qantas® Frequent Flyer

You can only redeem awards for family members, defined as: husband/wife, parent/stepparent, domestic partner/de facto, child, including foster and stepchild, brother/sister, half brother/sister, grandparent, grandchild, son/daughter-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, father/mother-in-law, uncle/aunt, nephew/niece, first cousin.

Similarly, you can only transfer miles to the same family members with a minimum of 5,000 miles transferred and a maximum of 600,000. It is free to do so online, while there is a charge of AUD 35 over the phone.

Singapore Krisflyer

The Singapore Krisflyer program only allows members to redeem points for family members, defined as: husband/wife, parent/stepparent, domestic partner/de facto, child, including foster and stepchild, brother/sister, half brother/sister, grandparent, grandchild, son/daughter-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, father/mother-in-law, uncle/aunt, nephew/niece and first cousin. There’s a minimum 5,000 to maximum 600,000 points per transfer, with an unlimited number of transfers in any 12-month period. It is free to do transfers online, but you’ll be charged $25 over the phone.

Credit Card Programs

American Express Membership Rewards®

If you have an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points, you have options for booking for other people. The easiest way is to transfer points to one of American Express’s 18 airline and three hotel partners and then book a ticket for someone else.

If your chosen transfer airline loyalty program makes it difficult to book flights for others, or a friend or family member needs a top-up to book an award flight, there’s another option. If you add the family member or friend as an authorized user on your American Express credit card, you can transfer your Membership Rewards points into their loyalty program.

Chase Ultimate Rewards®

The easiest option is to use your points to book a flight for someone directly at UltimateRewards.com. If you have one of these three Chase cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® — you’ll get 25% more value for your points on the first two cards and 50% on the third.

You can transfer your Chase points to others, but there are two caveats. First, you need an Ultimate Rewards-based card with an annual fee — Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card — in order to transfer points to an outside loyalty program.

Second, while Chase Ultimate Rewards offers 1:1 transfers to nine airline and three hotel partners, you can only transfer your points to authorized users of your account who live at your address, and for business cardholders, with authorized card users who are co-owners of your business. You can also share your points with a spouse, domestic partner or business co-owner who have an active Ultimate Rewards account by using the Combine Points page on UltimateRewards.com.

Another option for sharing Ultimate Rewards points involves transferring them to someone else’s frequent flyer program. If you want to do this, you will need to add them as an authorized user on your credit card and they must also be a member of your household.

  • 60,000 bonus points

  • 2X points on travel and dining

  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

More Info

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points

  • Earn 3 points per $1 in select business categories

  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Highlights
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

See additional details for Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

More Info

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

Citi ThankYou® Rewards

You can redeem your Citi ThankYou points for travel for members and non-members. You can also transfer your points for free to any other Citi ThankYou points member. Transfer between 1,000 and 500,000 points per transfer in 1,000-point increments. You can share up to 100,000 points a year with another ThankYou Rewards member.

Citi ThankYou points are transferable to 15 global airline loyalty programs, mostly at 1,000 points to 1,000 miles. Transfer up to 500,000 ThankYou Points per transaction. There’s no fee for transferring your points.

Read Credit Cards with Airline Mile Transfer Features.

The bottom line

Using your miles to help others is a nice perk to have with your chosen loyalty program or credit card. The simplest way to use your points and miles for others is to book their flights directly, since it’s generally free to do.

When redeeming for someone else directly isn’t an option, you can still usually transfer miles or points to someone else, but it may cost you, and there may be limits on how many miles or points you can move over.

Credit card programs also make it easy to use your points to book flights for whoever you choose. But they do require more time and effort when transferring points to someone else, but it still can be done. Each program has different rules, so check the fine print before you make a move.


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