For those of you earning points in two-player mode or perhaps with even more participants, there are many occasions when it might be helpful to consolidate all your collective holdings in a loyalty program into one individual’s account.
You might have an uneven number of points across two people’s accounts, and harnessing them all into a single account would allow you to redeem the miles for a flight for both people. Or there might be one person in the household who has earned elite status with a program, and you’d like to make all the bookings under that account in order to fully enjoy the benefits and perks of the status.
With a few exceptions, most loyalty programs don’t really allow you to move points between different accounts without paying a fee. However, there are a few tricks you can use to “funnel” points that are originally collected by different individuals into a single account to accomplish any of the above goals, and we’ll examine a few of them in this article.
By nature, these tricks carry with them an element of “Your Mileage May Vary”, since they somewhat skirt around the published terms and conditions, but they’re useful to know if you’re looking to maximize the effectiveness of your multi-player strategy.
Aeroplan: Amex MR Transfers + Credit Cards
If you have existing Aeroplan miles sitting in your accounts, then there’s no cost-effective way to transfer those miles from one account to another. You can request Aeroplan to make the transfer between accounts, but it’ll cost you $0.02 per mile. To transfer 10,000 miles from one account to another, then, would cost you $200, so it’s not really an option worth considering.
But any time you have the opportunity to convert points from one program to another, it’s worth asking the question: “Can I convert my X points into someone else’s Y points? Do the names and information in both programs need to match?”
Well, in the case of transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan miles, there are many instances of the names and information on your Amex MR and Aeroplan accounts not being required to match. Since the points transfer page only asks you for an Aeroplan account number (in addition to your address and city), people are often able to input any Aeroplan number and see the transfer go through.
As I mentioned, though, the terms and conditions do state that the holder of both the Amex MR and Aeroplan accounts should be the same, so Amex are well within their rights to withhold or deny your points transfer if the names don’t in fact match. But whether or not they choose to exercise that right is another question entirely.
Therefore, if your primary channel of earning Aeroplan miles is through the American Express credit cards (as I imagine is the case for many of you), you can pretty easily consolidate all the Amex MR earnings of your family members into one Aeroplan account. This allows you to take full advantage of any account that has earned Aeroplan status, and also makes your life much easier when it comes time to redeem your miles (since you can make bookings for multiple travellers at the same time, instead of having to deduct miles from separate accounts).
A similar principle applies to another popular way to earn Aeroplan miles: through the co-branded credit cards issued by TD and CIBC.
(Speaking of which, the excellent signup bonuses on the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite and TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card are ending next week, so make sure to nab those 80,000+ Aeroplan miles if you haven’t already.)
While the Aeroplan account you include on your TD or CIBC credit card application is technically supposed to be under your name, several data points indicate that the miles tend to go through no matter which Aeroplan number you note down.
All things being equal, you’d generally prefer to consolidate your miles into one account instead of splitting them up, so any couples or families looking to take advantage of Aeroplan-branded credit card signup bonuses should keep this trick in mind.
Marriott Bonvoy: 100k Per Year + Multiple Accounts
On the hotel side, Marriott Bonvoy is one of the most popular and easily accessible hotel loyalty programs for Canadians. With Marriott, there’s even more of an incentive to consolidate points into one account, because the perks and qualifying nights associated with your Marriott Bonvoy elite status generally aren’t extended when the booking isn’t coming out of your account.
For example, consider a couple who both earn Bonvoy points through the Amex Bonvoy personal and business credit cards. The couple elects to make most of their bookings under one person’s account, thus earning valuable Platinum Elite status on this account and enjoying nifty benefits like suite upgrades and free breakfasts.
But if the couple were to redeem points for a stay out of the other person’s account (which has no status), then they wouldn’t enjoy any of the Platinum Elite benefits, and the qualifying nights earned on the stay also wouldn’t go towards re-qualifying for Platinum next year. It’s therefore hugely advantageous for multi-player strategies to pool their Bonvoy points into a single account, to the extent that’s possible.
Now, Marriott Bonvoy itself does allow you to transfer points between accounts in an official capacity. Each account is allowed to send up to 100,000 Bonvoy points per calendar year to other accounts, and is allowed to receive up to 500,000 Bonvoy points per calendar year from other accounts. You need to call up Marriott Bonvoy over the phone to initiate these transfers.
In the past, under the legacy Marriott Rewards scheme, you used to be able to exceed the limit of 100,000 points if you were transferring points for the purposes of completing a redemption, but this no longer seems to the case following the launch of Marriott Bonvoy.
Instead, considering that the limit on receiving points from other accounts is much higher at 500,000 points per calendar year, you might have to play around with having multiple accounts for a certain individual, and then consolidating those into the desired “master” account.
For example, if you’re managing the household in two-player mode, you could collect up to 100,000 Bonvoy points in your spouse’s first account, and another set of up to 100,000 Bonvoy points in your spouse’s second account, and then transfer both balances into your own account.
By the terms and conditions of the loyalty program, though, a single person isn’t supposed to have multiple accounts, so again we’re operating in a bit of a grey area here.
Let’s then consider the possibilities of converting between Marriott Bonvoy and other types of points. First off, Amex MR points can be transferred to Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio; unfortunately, unlike the Aeroplan scenario, most data points indicate that the names do indeed need to match on the Bonvoy account for the transfer to go through.
But I encountered an interesting scenario a while back when I had converted Marriott Bonvoy points into Aeroplan miles . The usual optimal transfer ratio is 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 Aeroplan miles, and at the time, Aeroplan was offering a 35% conversion bonus as well.
I had tried sending points from my dad’s Marriott Bonvoy account to my Aeroplan account – and lo and behold, it worked! We do share the same last name and address, so perhaps Marriott and the airlines only check for the last name?
British Airways Avios: Household Accounts
It’s somewhat rare to find points programs that actually let you freely pool points between multiple accounts in the same household, but that’s exactly what British Airways Avios allows through their Household Account feature. It’s quite a consumer-friendly move by Avios, since they’d stand to earn higher profits by following the industry standard and charging money for inter-account points transfers.
The member who initiates the Household Account process is designated as the “Head of the Household”, and has powers to add additional members to the household (up to six people) or to remove existing members. Note that all members of a Household Account must be registered at the same address.
By setting up a Household Account, every member of the household will have their points balances pooled together, and every member can also make redemptions using this pool of miles. With such an easy way to combine your Avios at your fingertips, you don’t really need to worry about whether or not, say, Amex MR to Avios transfers require the name to match or not.
Simply transfer everyone’s MR points (or RBC Avion points, for that matter) into their respective Avios accounts, and your points can then be automatically pooled together through the Household Account feature.
A few data points on the other loyalty programs that I’ve gathered over the years:
There’s no easy way to pool or funnel Alaska miles into the same account, unless you’re willing to pay the fee of US$10 per 1,000 miles transferred. If you try to include an Alaska account number on your MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard application that’s not your own, then MBNA will simply discard that number and create a new Alaska account for you.
Hence, if you’re collecting Alaska miles as a duo, make sure you both earn enough miles in your respective accounts for whatever redemption you’re planning, since it’s not really possible to transfer miles from one account to the other!
(As discussed in the comments, Alaska members with elite status can occasionally share miles with other accounts at no cost.)
Many years ago, RBC Avion seemed rather flexible in terms of allowing you to transfer points to accounts that don’t match the name, whether you were transferring out to British Airways Avios, American AAdvantage, WestJet Rewards, etc. Nowadays, however, they seem to be more strict on this, with points being returned to your account if the key details don’t match.
Best Western Rewards is quite generous in this regard, allowing you to transfer your BW Rewards points to other accounts that share the same physical address.
With the Pool Points feature in Hilton Honors, you can share your points with up to 10 other people at no cost. Each account can send up to a maximum of 500,000 points in a calendar and can receive up to a maximum of 2 million points in a calendar year.
There are many reasons why those of you who are earning points as a collective effort within the household would find it beneficial to consolidate your earnings in a single household member’s account. Some types of points, like British Airways Avios, do openly allow for this possibility; however, most programs have much stricter policies, and it therefore comes down to taking advantage of a few tricks during the earning and converting process to “funnel” the points where you want them to go.
If anyone has additional data points to contribute on the possibilities of transferring points into someone else’s account, feel free to share in the comments below.