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Is it Possible to Give Miles to a Family Member?

SmarterTravel

Dear Tim,

My grandmother has lots of miles accumulated on one of her credit cards. She has not flown in some time and probably won’t in the future. She wants to give these miles to other family members to use. Is this possible?

Courtney

Dear Courtney,

Generally speaking, earned miles cannot be transferred to someone else’s account. (As an example of the exception that makes that rule, Continental recently launched MilePass, a feature of their OnePass program that permits members to transfer as many as 15,000 miles per year to other OnePass members. As you might expect, such flexibility comes at a price: $7.50 for every 500 miles transferred. At that rate, it would cost $375 to transfer 25,000 miles. Does it make sense to pay to transfer 25,000 miles—enough for a free domestic award ticket—when a revenue ticket could probably be purchased for $350 or less? Probably not.)

The good news is that while miles can’t normally be transferred, award tickets may be given to anyone the mileage owner chooses. Essentially, this accomplishes the same purpose as giving away the miles themselves.

So in your grandmother’s case, she would begin by finding out where and when her family members wish to travel. Then she would redeem her miles for award tickets issued in the names of the intended recipients, for travel on their preferred itineraries.

While the process is straightforward, finding seats on the aforementioned “preferred itineraries” can be daunting, due to capacity controls on awards. If it were my grandmother, I would be inclined to volunteer to assist her in making the award bookings. After all, it’s enough that she’s treating the family to tickets; she shouldn’t be expected to endure the potentially mind-numbing frustration of tracking down scarce award seats as well.

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