How to Pool Your Travel to Maximize Points-Earning and Status Benefits

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Reader Ryan asks if it would be possible to have multiple people — family members, co-workers — share a rewards account to earn status together they wouldn’t be able to get on their own.

So, everyone would book via a single mileageplus account for flights (if United served the airport), or a Marriott account. Does that make sense? What you think?

In fact it’s easy to pool travel with hotel programs, not as easy with airlines thanks to TSA ID checks.

You Can’t Easily Fly Crediting Miles to Someone Else’s Account

Years ago you could buy a ticket with my name on it, fly, and credit the miles to someone else’s account. Now the name on your boarding pass has to match your ID to clear security.


    Kim Jong Un Tours Security In the Pyongyang Domestic Terminal

There are ways around this, for instance both people go to the airport and clear security with tickets in their own names. Your ticket is refundable, once you are through security you take the other person’s boarding pass and fly.

You either need to do a straight turnaround without leaving security to fly the return segment in the other person’s name, or you need a separate one way ticket in your own name to fly home crediting the flight to your own mileage account.

But Several Airlines Offer Small Business Frequent Flyer Accounts

Everyone travels and credits miles to their own frequent flyer accounts, but can also credit their travel to a shared small business account. These are generally revenue-based programs whose rewards are stackable with individual mileage credit.

United has PerksPlus. Delta has SkyBonus. American has Business ExtrAA. So sign up for a small business account and get your co-workers to provide the number with their travel and you’ll accumulate more rewards than just the miles each person earns individually.

You can claim free travel, in United’s case miles, American and Delta offer elite status and club membership for instance. Though of course the status and the club membership can be used by the person it’s redeemed for — and not by everyone who is crediting travel into the small business account.

And Some Airlines Offer Family Pooling of Miles

This won’t help you share status but you can use the miles that multiple people are earning towards a single award redemption.

On the hotel side Hilton allows points pooling across members for free. Hyatt lets you transfer points between accounts for free. At Marriott points sharing is only free for Golds and above but points transfer free between Marriott and Starwood accounts and Starwood allows it free for family members whose accounts are registered to the same residential mailing address.

Many airlines outside the U.S. allow family pooling. Take British Airways for instance where up to 7 members of a household can link accounts and then their points are available to be used together, although if you link accounts then award travel can only be redeemed for other members whose accounts are linked (if you want to redeem for someone outside the ‘household’ you first have to delink the accounts).


Passengers Wait for a British Airways Flight at Heathrow, They Could Be Pooling Their Miles

Some Programs Let You Gift Status

If you become a million miler with United, then your spouse or domestic partner can enjoy the same status you have with the airline. That means you may be lifetime Gold as a million miler, but earn 1K for the year, your spouse gets 1K status.

Delta offers choice benefits to Platinum and Diamond elites. A Platinum can gift SkyMiles silver status and a Diamond can gift SkyMiles gold.

Get a Platinum Card from American Express. and share the benefits. You can add up to three authorized users for $175 (total, not each). If you want more than three, each additional beyond three costs $175 apiece.

Authorized users have the same club lounge access as primary cardholders — American Express Centurion lounges, Delta lounges when flying Delta same day, and a Priority Pass Select card with up to 2 guests.


Bar at the American Express Centurion Lounge Philadelphia

Authorized users get Starwood Gold status which matches to Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, and National Car Rental Executive status.

And authorized users get benefits like the statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (and this statement credit is triggered by the payment, not whom the payment is for, I used mine as a gift for someone else).

Hotel Status is Easier to Build Up Together and Share

For hotels you just add someone as the second guest on a reservation and they can check in without you.

Technically your elite benefits are for you to use on your own stays. However most hotels won’t fuss over a second guest checking in ahead of you and won’t verify that you ever check in.

That way their stays, credited to your account, will earn you points and bonuses and elite stay credit so that you can earn status faster. And they will enjoy the benefits of your status like upgrades and breakfast.


Suite at the Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris

Hyatt Top Tier Elites Can Gift Their Status on Award Stays

Hyatt by the way lets a top tier elite book award nights for someone else and extend top tier status to the recipient (“Guest of Honor”) as a benefit of the program. You can transfer Chase points from a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to Hyatt, and then transfer your Hyatt points to a friend with top tier status(free). Then have the friend book a Hyatt award in your name and receive an upgrade up to a suite if available at check-in, free breakfast or club lounge, etc.

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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Comments

  1. Gary – another point is through Mlife you can share status with your spouse up to Explorist. Does require matching in person at an Mlife property though

  2. My question about flying under someone else’s name – I had that idea a long time ago but never acted on it because I wondered if it wouldn’t somehow be illegal (in the off chance you got caught) – especially after 9/11.

    Do you know that it’s legal?

  3. jetBlue offers both a business rewards portal (blueinc.jetblue.com) as well as Family Pooling. Combine those together, along with the B6 Mastercard, and you’re doing pretty well racking in the points if you are a jetBlue is a convenient option for your needs.

  4. I share my name with a family member. Same first and last, but not middle. Different addresses. We shared a United account for a couple years. Had UA Gold. Eventually we stopped as I had too many miles and the consequences became higher. 2005-2010ish.

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