For any number of reasons, families might find themselves with hotel loyalty points spread across the accounts of various family members. This isn’t usually a big deal, as long as each account holder manages to accumulate enough points for at least a 1 night award booking somewhere. But often that isn’t possible, and so it might make sense to pool hotel loyalty points in a single account. This is even more beneficial if the major traveller in the family has some kind of elite status that may lead to an improved hotel stay experience – therefore it makes sense to have the free nights booked by the elite status member.
Some programmes make it quite easy to pool points into a single account. Other programmes either prohibit this practice or charge for the privilege. As always, you should be careful to avoid abusing the system, as you might end up losing your points. (i.e. don’t set up an account in your dog’s name, to get around maximum annual caps on buying points for example…)
Here’s a summary of the policies of the major hotel chains that I follow.
Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood Preferred Guest allows transfers between accounts in any amount. Both accounts must be active and need to have maintained the same address for a minimum of 30 days.
Transfer can be done online, or by calling Starwood Preferred Guest.
If you have elite status, Club Carlson allow you to transfer your points to anybody, free of charge. But if your goal is to transfer points from a basic account to an elite account, these are the requirements for free transfers:
- Both members must share the same address
- Both members must have been members of Club Carlson for at least a year
- Both members must have not changed address within the last 30 days (as well as having shared the same address for that period)
Hyatt Gold Passport
Hyatt Gold Passport allows you to combine points with any Hyatt member free of charge. However, there are a couple of conditions:
- You can only transfer the required number of points needed to redeem an award
- You can only transfer or receive points once every 30 days
As a result, you can’t just transfer points in order to pool them in one account. A transfer must take place because otherwise the main account holder wouldn’t have enough points for the award. Therefore, you need to call Hyatt Gold Passport and place an award reservation on hold. Then, you must complete a Point Combining Request Form and email, fax, or mail it to Hyatt Gold Passport.
I believe that, should you subsequently cancel the award booking, the points will go back to the original source. So, you can’t book an award and then cancel it in order to pool points in a single account.
Marriott Rewards lets you transfer points free of charge to a spouse or domestic partner. However, the transfer must take place because otherwise the main account holder wouldn’t have enough points for the award. Therefore, only the required number of points can be transferred (rounded to the nearest 1,000).
To transfer points, you need to call Marriott Rewards and request an Authorization to Transfer Points form. The person receiving the points then needs to submit that form (duly completed and signed) to Marriott Rewards with a Request for Reward Redemption for the award booking in question.
Once the authorization is processed, the points become the property of the receiver. Therefore, if the award booking is subsequently cancelled, the points remain in the possession of the main account holder, so you could indirectly pool points that way…
Le Club Accor Hotels
Accor Hotels is a bit of a special case, since its points are converted into cash-equivalent vouchers good at Accor Hotels. (if you don’t convert them to airline miles automatically)
These vouchers can be given and used to anybody, with the minimum voucher available at 2,000 points. For balances of less than 2,000 points, no transfers are possible (or any other uses as far as I am aware!)
Hilton HHonors allows transfers to any member with the following restrictions / costs:
- Transfers must be made in increments of 10,000 points
- Transfers cost $25 per 10,000 points (0.25 cents per point) with an annual cap of $500 (i.e. transfers above 200,000 points are free)
Transfers can be made online by following this link.
IHG Rewards Club
IHG Rewards Club allows transfers to any member. However, it charges $5 per 1,000 points for the privilege.
Considering you can essentially buy IHG Rewards Club points for $7 per 1,000 by using this trick, you’d have to be crazy to transfer points between IHG accounts.
In general, Starwood Preferred Guest and Club Carlson are best for pooling points in a single account (with safeguards against obvious abuses). Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriott Rewards can be done, with a lot of work, so ask yourself whether the potential benefits are worthwhile.
I can’t really imagine too many scenarios where a Hilton Hhonors transfer would make sense. A massive transfer (500K+ – so the $500 cap substantially reduces the cost per point) might make sense from a non-elite to a Diamond member, if that non-elite member earned those points through, say, credit card spend…
IHG Rewards Club… don’t transfer points between accounts!!