Which Programs Permit Negative Account Balances?

A Flyertalk member reports that they were short points for redeeming a Priority Club hotel reward. This person called and asked if they could go negative in their account, since they were really close, and the agent just gave them a 1000 point bonus to make up the difference. No cost, and better than buying the points for $12.50.

Another member says they were allowed to go into the red in their Priority Club account.

Starwood definitely bonuses people the few points they’re short an award, though the last time I queried this was a couple years ago.

American has told me that if you’re within 500 miles of an award they’ll let you book it.

I’m not an expert on the Lufthansa program, but I recall that Lufthansa Senator members are (or were?) allowed to go negative in their account by something on the order of 180,000 miles!

I’ve never systematically compiled a list of airlines and hotel programs that do this, I’ve never really needed it (and when I’ve been close to an award I’ve always been able to transfer points into an account from another source or quickly earn the miles). But it’s an interesting feature nonetheless. I’d love to hear from anyone with experience here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Another data point: this January, SPG comped me <1000 points needed for an award. It really made my life a lot easier; it’s little things like that which keep one loyal to a program (I’m SPG gold).

  2. Lufthansa overdraft is now 50,000 miles. If it is not redeemed by the time you drop from Senator, you are invoiced for the miles at a preset rate. Under the old system, you never had to pay back the overdraft of 180,000 miles, but I think this was abused by people that LH comped to Senator, used the overdraft and then never credited another mile to LH.

  3. Earlier this year, Priority Club didn’t offer to comp me points, even though I needed only about 700 and I tried gently with two different agents. I was so surprised! They wanted me to buy the points, but I eventually got them via a MyPoints transfer. Only good thing was that they let me set up my reservation and go into negative points until MyPoints officially transferred in.

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