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As we explore the question: “Can credit card points be transferred?” the answer is a very muddy “Maybe.” There are actually 2 ways to look at this question:
1. Can you transfer credit card points between cardholders?
2. Can you transfer credit card points between your own rewards cards to consolidate points to redeem for travel and other big ticket rewards?
Let’s answer the first question now, and tomorrow we’ll explore the second part. Unfortunately, there’s still no clear cut answer since credit card policies vary widely between credit card issuers. But, depending on the credit card you have, there are at least five ways to transfer points to another cardholder. Call your credit card issuer to find out more about company policies for specific cards.
In many cases, you can only transfer credit card rewards points between cardholders on the same account. You can add a person as a secondary cardholder to your account for the purpose of transferring points to their name, so that they can book airline tickets or rental cars using your points. This is not recommended, however. When you add another cardholder to your account, you become liable for their use of your card — you’ll be responsible for any payments they might fail to make, and if they are not responsible with their finances, it could ruin your credit rating.
Some airlines permit frequent fliers to transfer points between members for a fee. In many cases, by the time you pay the fees to transfer miles, it would have been less expensive to buy a ticket. However, if you are short just a few points before you can redeem your rewards for the trip of your choice, it might pay to use this service. Keep an eye for special offers, too, where you can get a bonus of additional miles when you transfer miles, helping to defray some of the costs. For instance, right now until November 30, 2010, Delta is offering a 50% bonus reward when you transfer miles.
Airline ticket brokerage companies permit you to “buy and sell” rewards point, simply by using your points to buy an airline ticket for another person. You mail the company the airline ticket, and they pay you for your points. You can also use Points.com, a unique website that lets you post and find offers to “trade” your credit card and frequent flier points. Points.com gets a fee when you trade your points with another member, so you’ll have to do the math carefully to make sure it really pays. However, this can be a good way to get rid of a small amount of points on different cards or “top off” a card with enough points to pay for the trip of your dreams.
The easiest way to transfer points to another cardholder (for instance, your spouse or child) is to simply buy the airline ticket in their name. If you’re ordering merchandising or a gift card, it doesn’t matter — just redeem the reward and give it to the other person. But you can order airline tickets and book car rentals and hotel reservations in anybody else’s name (even if they are not related) using your rewards points. This is the easiest way to “transfer points” without any fees, although you’re not really transferring points at all.
Can you think of other ways to legally transfer points between credit cardholders with different accounts?