One of the great things about being a business traveler and amassing a cache of points or miles is… giving them away! That’s because there are many situations when points or miles make a perfect gift.

Loyalty rewards allow you to score life-enriching, worldview-expanding, even priceless travel experiences for less money. If you’re sitting on a stack of rewards, why not consider sharing the experience with a favorite friend or family member by transferring a stack of your points and miles? 

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The ins and outs of transferring rewards

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re feeling generous, start at the source. Each loyalty program differs in what they offer, so head to your program’s website and look for the “Buy/Gift” or “Buy/Transfer” options. After you’ve logged in, the process is intuitive. You’ll need to enter information about yourself and your lucky recipient. Usually, you are asked for first and last names, membership/account numbers and email addresses, as well as the number of points/miles you wish to give, so be sure to have this ready, along with your credit card information. Some programs will even allow you to complete the transaction without your friend’s membership number — perfect if you want your gift to be a surprise.

To make sure you’re not caught by surprise, be aware that most programs do require you to transfer a minimum number of rewards (ranging from 500 – 1,000). Loyalty programs also cap the number of rewards you can transfer at a time (usually up to 25,000 – 30,000) and how many points you can transfer in a calendar year.

Depending on the program, there is a small cost for the processing fee and mileage transfer fee when transferring your rewards. The price of a point or mile varies from program to program, but on average, expect to pay about 2.5 – 3.5 cents per mile. Some programs will charge a fee based on the increments of points transferred (ie. $25 for 10,000 points transferred).

And one final piece of advice is to plan ahead. Not all transfers happen instantaneously – some may take a few hours, while others a few days. Be careful not to miss out on that hotel or flight deal while waiting for the points and miles to appear in your recipient’s account.

With the basics covered, here are 3 ways to maximize loyalty rewards with each transfer:

  1. Sign up for a family account

    Loyalty points and miles are all about exploring new and exciting places without breaking the bank. Members of the JetBlue TrueBlue Family Pooling program can transfer TrueBlue points into a shared loyalty account. The best part is that each year, families can change the percentage of points they each contribute to the Family Account, making it easy to spread loyalty points between an upcoming family vacation and personal trips later down the road.

  2. Take advantage of transfer bonuses

    If you’re using a credit card connected to a loyalty program and find yourself with more hotel points than you know what to do with, transferring may be just the solution for you. Keep your eye open for transfer bonuses from one program into another.

    For example, members of Starwood’s Preferred Guest loyalty program can earn a 5,000 point bonus by transferring at least 20,000 Starpoints to one of 32 Starwood Hotel airline transfer partners. The added bonus will help you move one step closer to your next vacation.

  3. Use elite status accounts to redeem rewards

    If you’ve got a well-travelled family member who has earned elite status in certain programs, consider transferring your rewards and booking your flight or hotel stay through them for one reason in particular – benefits.

    Family members that travel more for work may have already reached elite status such as an AAdvantage Gold membership, which includes perks like complimentary upgrades on flights that are 500 miles or less, a free checked bag and half off extra seats in the main cabin. While the rest of the family may not have reached elite status, they can enjoy many of the same benefits as the elite member as long as they’re using the elite account to redeem the loyalty miles collected as a family.

If you still need convincing, there’s an added bonus to transferring your rewards. If an expiration deadline is looming and you’re at risk of losing your hard-earned rewards, consider transferring some of your points and miles to reset your account and keep its status “active”.