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Couples or families often find themselves with hotel loyalty points spread across the accounts of different family members. Perhaps both you and your partner have jobs that involve travel. Perhaps you both applied for the same credit card that awards hotel loyalty points. Perhaps you were targeted last year with the 50%-off discount when buying Starwood Preferred Guest points, and decided to buy points for everybody in your family.
It even makes sense to have separate accounts for family members who don’t fall into any of those categories I mention. You never know when IHG or another chain will offer a promotion similar to 2014’s Into the Nights, which offered two free nights at any IHG hotel after meeting a number of targets. Why wouldn’t you try to do that more than once and get four free nights instead of two!?! In the process two people are going to end up with some points.
Having separate accounts is not really ideal, however, as you might want to pool your points together for any number of reasons, such as:
- One family member has elite status with the hotel chain. It makes complete sense to book any award stays in the name of that person, in order to enjoy status benefits during the holiday stay. Pooling points in the elite status account would be ideal.
- You don’t quite have enough points for your desired hotel reward stay. If you need 80,000 points for a certain hotel reward, it can be quite frustrating to find 65,000 points in your account and 35,000 points in your partner’s.
- You are travel hacking. You might have bought Starpoints for your mother-in-law, but you don’t actually want her to use them!
- You have some leftover points about to expire. If you can move points to an active account and avoid losing them… great!
- A family member has passed away. While a sad time for any family, you might prefer to quietly transfer the deceased’s hotel points to another family member rather than let them expire unused or deal with a formal process requiring death certificates, etc.
No hotel chain really offers a Household Account, but most hotel loyalty programmes offer a way to pool points into a single account. Some chains offer to do this for free, subject to certain conditions that help avoid obvious abuses or selling of points. Other chains charge for the privilege.
Joe has been praising Le Club Accor lately. I’m not such a big fan, but when it comes to transferring points Le Club Accor is simple – you can’t! In practice, however, Le Club Accor points convert into cash-equivalent vouchers (2,000 points = 40 euros) for use at Accor hotels. You are free to give these to whoever you like. So as long as each account reaches the 2,000 point minimum, the value of those points can be shared.
Best Western Rewards points can be transferred between accounts that share the same physical address. To arrange a point transfer, you should simply e-mail email@example.com
Club Carlson allows members with elite status to transfer points to anybody, free of charge. But if your goal is to transfer points from a basic account to an elite account, these are the requirements for free transfers:
- Both members must share the same address
- Both members must have been members of Club Carlson for at least a year
- Both members must have not changed address within the last 30 days (as well as having shared the same address for that period)
- You can only transfer the minimum necessary for a specific reward stay
- You can only transfer or receive points once every 30 days
As a result, you can’t just transfer points in order to pool them in one account. A transfer must take place because otherwise the main account holder wouldn’t have enough points for the reward. Therefore, you need to call Hyatt Gold Passport and place a reward reservation on hold. Then, you must complete a Point Combining Request Form and email, fax, or mail it to Hyatt Gold Passport.
Should you subsequently cancel the reward booking, the points will go back to the original source. So, you can’t book a reward and then cancel it in order to pool points in a single account.
Marriott Rewards lets you transfer points free of charge to a spouse or domestic partner. However, the transfer must take place because otherwise the main account holder wouldn’t have enough points for the reward stay. Therefore, only the required number of points can be transferred (rounded to the nearest 1,000).
To transfer points, you need to call Marriott Rewards and request an Authorization to Transfer Points form. The person receiving the points then needs to submit that form (duly completed and signed) to Marriott Rewards with a Request for Reward Redemption for the reward booking in question.
Once the authorization is processed, the points become the property of the receiver. Therefore, if the award booking is subsequently cancelled, the points remain in the possession of the main account holder, so you could indirectly pool points that way…
Here’s a small tip for those Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriott Rewards members with large point balances. Make a speculative reward booking well into the future, using up the vast majority of your points balance. You will then have an excuse for needing more points from your partner. Process the points transfer for a reward stay you actually require. Once that reward stay has passed, you are free to cancel that speculative booking and get your points back…
Transfer can be done online via your SPG account, or by calling Starwood Preferred Guest.
- Transfers must be made in increments of 10,000 points
- Transfers cost $25 per 10,000 points (0.25 cents per point) with an annual cap of $500 (i.e. transfers above 200,000 points are free)
Transfers can be made online or by calling Hilton HHonors.
IHG Rewards Club allows points transfers to any member. However, it charges $5 per 1,000 points for the privilege. Considering it often charges a slightly higher price for simply buying points, please please don’t ever transfer IHG points to another member!
In general, Starwood Preferred Guest and Club Carlson are best for pooling points in a single account (with safeguards against obvious abuses). Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriott Rewards can be done, with a lot of work, so ask yourself whether the potential benefits are worthwhile. Of course, two Marriott Rewards members can always convert their points into SPG points on a 3:1 basis and combine the points within SPG.
I can’t really imagine too many scenarios where a Hilton Hhonors transfer would make sense. A massive transfer (500K+ – so the $500 cap substantially reduces the cost per point) might make sense from a non-elite to a Diamond member, if that non-elite member earned those points through, say, credit card spend.
IHG Rewards Club… just don’t transfer points between accounts! However, make sure to mention at reception if the second guest enjoys elite status. In some cases you might receive the elite status benefits anyhow.