Planning travel with points can save you money in the long term, if you know how to use them. Let’s say you’ve earned about 40,000 points with a particular airline, your spouse has 35,000, and your oldest child has 20,000. By themselves, these points won’t cover tickets for the entire family. But when pooled together, they can get the job done.
Whether you’re headed overseas for a family vacation or a quick excursion with friends, pooling or sharing rewards points can give you an advantage over the solo traveler. Not to mention, many programs make it easy to share points from your online account.
Options for pooling points
Not all options for pooling points are the same. Some programs focus on families, while others allow you to choose whoever you want for your pool. Some programs don’t allow pooling at all. Here are a few ideas for how you can pool points for your next trip.
Credit card points
Citi: You can share points with anyone who has a ThankYou® points account. There is a yearly sharing cap of 100,000 points (also the cap for receiving), and the time limit for using points is 90 days. There is no fee for sharing points.
Capital One: You may share points only between your own accounts through Capital One’s website. If you want to share points with someone else, that will require a phone call. However, an online option is in the works. There are no caps on the amount of points you can share. If you like to travel internationally, Capital One offers several competitive travel rewards cards with no foreign transaction fees.
American Express: Amex is pretty strict about sharing points. You can’t transfer membership rewards, but you can transfer your points to a frequent flyer account. This account can belong to you or to an authorized user on your Amex account.
Currently, United, American and Delta don’t allow pooling of miles. They do allow you to share miles, but doing so will come at a cost. However, the following airlines do allow miles pooling:
Frontier: Create a family pool with up to eight people of your choice once you reach Elite 20k status or if you have a Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®. Members of your pool don’t have to be family, but they do have to have a Frontier miles account.
JetBlue: Allows up to seven TrueBlue members to create a Points Pooling account. You have to be at least 21 to start an account and be a Pool leader.
Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian airlines doesn’t technically have a points pooling program, but does have an option for sharing miles for free. Any HawaiianMiles member can share with someone who is the primary cardholder of a Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, Bankoh Hawiian Airlines Visa check card or a Hawaiian Airlines Visa credit card (Japan) free of charge.
There are also lots of options for family pooling of miles with international airlines. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air and Qatar Airways are just a few of the airlines that offer programs for family members to pool points.
Hotel loyalty points
Marriott: You’re allowed to share points with another person whose account is in good standing and has been open for at least 60 days. There’s no fee and you can share up to 100,000 points per year. You can receive up to 500,000 points a year. Contact member support to initiate the process.
Hilton: You and up to 10 other people can create a points pool at no cost to anyone. You have to transfer at least 1,000 points, but can transfer up to 500,000 points a year. A pool member can receive up to two million points a year.
Hyatt: You’re allowed to share points with anyone who is a World of Hyatt member. Points sharing is meant to go towards the redemption of a specific reward. In order to share points you can call Hyatt or complete the point combining request form.
When is pooling worth it?
A lot of communication and trust is needed for a pool to work. Once your points are in a pool, you can’t get them back unless you leave the pool. A designated person will decide how the points are used. Here are some scenarios where pooling is worth it:
You don’t have enough points: If you’re planning a family trip and there are members who don’t have enough points to cover a ticket. Pooling points is a good option to get everyone on the same footing. It can also come in handy if you are trying to book lodging for your family and need more points to do so.
Not everyone has elite status: Pooling your points to get everyone to elite status will give your traveling party access to certain perks, such as seat upgrades and free checked bags. Elite status for hotels could lead to a free night’s stay and other perks like late checkout and room upgrades.
You want to use leftover points: Most avid points users know how frustrating it can be to have a balance of 2,000 points sitting in your account. These points are not worth much on their own, and will likely just expire. However, if you can add them to a larger pool, their value can lead to a free ticket or an upgrade for the group.
You want to leverage bonus points: Let’s say you have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and have reached your bonus of 50,000 miles (after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months). Your spouse has a Capital One Spark Miles for Business card with a bonus of 50,000 miles (after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months). You can pool these points for travel purchases. Transferring Capital One points to airline miles has a 2:1.5 exchange for most airlines. This would give you around 100,000 miles to play with. Or you could use those points to pay for an AirBnb. Each point equates to about 1 cent, giving you $1,000 in points credit.
Points pooling can be a great tool to help you and your traveling party in a pinch. Pools are usually controlled by a designated leader, so they should be someone who has the group’s best interests in mind. With the right planning and clear communication, you can use the strength of numbers to make your rewards reach their maximum potential.