Why transferring hotel points to a friend is good (but airline miles are bad)

Most frequent flyer schemes allow you to pay to transfer miles to a friend.  It is usually a terrible deal.  The price is often only modestly cheaper than buying miles outright but no new miles are being created – you are paying a high fee simply for the loyalty programme to move them from one account to another!

Here is British Airways pricing for Avios transfers.  Transferring 13,000 Avios points from yourself to a friend will cost a crazy £100.  This is especially crazy given that a) you can issue a reward ticket for someone else from your account and b) you could create a Household Account for free and pool your miles that way.

In general, you should think long and hard before paying to transfer airline miles to someone else.

With the hotel loyalty schemes, it is a totally different game.

Hotel

Most of the hotel schemes make it very easy to transfer points around – and you often don’t need to pay.  Here are some examples:

Best Western Rewards

The Q&A on the UK website says:  “Yes. Points can be transferred between accounts that share the same physical address. To arrange a point transfer, please contact our Rewards Team at rewards@bestwestern.co.uk”.  Easy.

Club Carlson

Club Carlson used to be super-generous – any transfer, to anyone, for free. Whilst that is no longer the case, it is still pretty good. If you have status, you can still transfer anything to anyone for free.

If you are not elite (Amex Platinum comes with free Club Carlson Gold status) you can transfer points to anyone who has shared your address for at least 30 days, as long as both accounts are at least a year old. Details are on the website here.

Hilton HHonors

I have, once, paid to transfer Hilton HHonors points. They were sitting in my account about to expire so the $25 fee for transferring 10,000 was worthwhile – they are worth double that when redeemed.

The minimum transfer is $12.50 for 5,000 points.  You can transfer to anyone BUT both accounts need to have had some activity in the last 30 days.  One way to do this is to book and cancel a reward – as free nights start at 5,000 points this is not an issue.

The form for transferring points is here (log-in required).

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt points can be transferred to any other member by filling in this PDF form. You can only make a transfer once every 30 days. In theory you are meant to redeem them as soon as the transfer is complete but my understanding is that this is not enforced. In any event, you could simply book a redemption room and then cancel it. There is (a little) more information on the Gold Passport site here.

IHG Rewards Club

You can transfer points to anyone else for a flat fee of $5 per 1,000.  I did this once to top up my Mum’s account from 14,000 to 15,000 for a redemption – in this scenario it was definitely $5 well spent (buying 1,000 would have been $13.50).  The link to arrange transfers is here.

Le Club AccorHotels

Accor points cannot be transferred.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott allows you to transfer your points to anyone.  There is a flat fee of $10 but this is waived if you have status.  Full details are here.  (EDIT: a comment below implies transfers are now free for everyone although the website has not been updated.)

There is a cap of 50,000 points per year unless the points are being combined with those of another member and redeemed immediately.

Starwood Preferred Guest

This is a very valuable option because of SPG’s good value airline transfers (1:1 or 1:1.25 for chunks of 20,000).  If your partner has SPG points, they can be transferred to you and you can then send them to your frequent flyer account (or vice versa).  You can also pool balances to get one of the accounts over 20,000 points, which triggers the additional 5,000 miles bonus when transferred to an airline.

The link to arrange transfers is here.  Points must be moved in chunks of 1,000.  Both accounts must have had the same home address for at least 30 days.  If this is a problem, move your Starwood points to Marriott and do a transfer under the Marriott rules.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Thank you Rob. This is a good piece might be useful for many.
    I transferred some Marriott points from a friend’s account to mine. They no longer charge $10 transaction fee. I was expecting to pay the fee (and that what’s written on their page for transfer), however it’s not the case anymore.
    So Marriott is pretty generous and easiest with transfers: to anyone and for free. The phone call took maybe 3 minutes. Transfer was immediate.

    SPG is in turn a way more painful process. They process transfer manually and it takes a while. Once It was 8 days, the second time – 4 days.

    Carlson also makes immediate transfers. You just need to call and provide basic details. This is especially good if you need to top up someone’s account to keep it active to for a award. The conversion rate is bad (2000 points to 200 miles), but I did that twice to keep an account active. Conversion takes from 2 (AA) to 8 (BA) days.

  2. SPG will only transfer in chunks of 1000 now between accounts rather than any amount. Changes about 6 months ago.

  3. I have a pot of SPG points (from Amex SPG card signups) expiring in a few months. Don’t stay in SPG hotels, so what is the best way to keep these active/alive please?
    Thanks in advance.

  4. I have just under 30K Carlson dormant as never stay in those. We should open Swap Shop up (where’s Noel)

  5. Thanks. When I last spoke to BA I was under the impression that you can transfer a certain number of avios points between Executive Club accounts for free, is that right?

    • Yes, with Gold anyway you get a free transfer allowance each year (can’t remember how much) – if in a HHA you need to add people to your F&F list.

    • Gold only

    • I have transferred points between mine and my wife’s accounts by transferring to Avios, creating a Household account and then closing it which asks you to re-allocate the points as you wish between the separated accounts. Then transfer back to BAEC.

  6. I have come to SPG/Marriott very late but am impressed by the transfer facility and the points required.
    This is just one example (but the only one I am interested in at present).
    To stay five nights in downtown Vancouver in June the only Hilton property is Hampton which is 200,000 points. Delta Suites in a more central position is 140,000 so I am planning to get the Marriott points (by various means) and cancel Hampton. I have Marriott Gold from Amex Plat so get breakfast in both and both are 5 for 4.
    Does anyone want to tell me that Hampton is better than Delta Suites?

  7. Melia also allows transfers for free

  8. O/T.
    Is the Places be Le Club Accor working for anyone? Mine updated and says something about ‘app being in developer mode and I don’t have access to use it’. I’ve used it over December and it has logged all my Accor checkins (no points posted yet however) but now doesn’t seem to appear on the Play store either… Anyone else having this problem?

    • The app seems to be working for me (I’m on iOS) but the 300 points from the badge I unlocked at a recent stay haven’t posted so I’ve emailed customer relations to get them to look into it (not holding my breath with Accor customer service standards, though). Would be good to be sorted as I’ve another Sofitel stay booked in and that’ll unlock another 800 points which I’d like to receive – preferably without having to email again!

    • They have updated the Android app a couple of days ago and now it is not working.

      They updated it just as I did my first check in..

  9. barnaby100 says:

    OT. I know that I posted OT about this on Wednesday but there are still loads of Virgin flights direct from manchester to boston for £1071 return in upper class ( I have booked april but also found august and other dates) . Virgin are doing a direct flight a few times a week with the plane also doing direct to San Francisco. You have to jiggle a bit to get the exact days of the week that they fly. They also seem to be doing a bit of price matching themselves to go to from manchester to JFK an then fly with Delta to Boston

  10. Axel Heyst says:

    Re Accor

    While the points can’t be transferred they can be gifted to anyone in batches of 2000 points. The gifting produces a voucher which has a cash value of 30 Euro and to be redeemed within 6 months.

  11. Axel Heyst says:

    autocorrect = 40 Euro

  12. Thanks Rob great article.
    Bit OT but my gf is going to be put up in a marriott with work for 60ish straight nights so she would be a gold member after that… does anyone know if her status will update during the stay (after 10 and then 50 nights) or after the stay? Because she would miss out on quite a lot of bonus points if thats the case (20% bonus whilst silver and 25% when gold).

    • After. She’d need to check out for a night each time, go elsewhere then return.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Could always get an Amex Platinum, apply for SPG Gold and match to Marriott Gold?

      If work lets her settle the bill get an SPG AMEX too for double points

      of course double points per stay may not work for 60 mights straight?

      • Thanks Rob and TG
        Interesting thought about the plat amex… issue is she cancelled her gold 2 months ago so if she got a plat it would delay her churn a bit (but probs worth an extra 25% points). She has the spg card currently and she isnt sure yet about work letting her settle the bill.
        The problem with that would be the fact this is for work in the USA… paying 3% service charge on a 60 night stay would probably be very costly!

        Not sure how checking in and out would work too as she would have a load of stuff (its a 5 month trip in total).
        Is it possible if you have a nice receptionist/manager to check you out but not go anywhere and then check you in?