Sharing hotel points? These loyalty programs allow it

Most hotel chains let you share points with friends and family – but you might encounter some restrictions

Dan Rafter
Personal Finance Writer
Specializes in mortgages, credit and credit scores

How to pool hotel points with friends, family

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You want to book a hotel stay for you and your family for a summer getaway in South Florida. Problem is, you're 15,000 points shy of qualifying for a free three-night stay. Your partner, though, has built up 17,000 points with the same hotel loyalty program. If only you could pool your points, you'd be able to score a hotel stay at the beach for free.

Here’s some good news: Many hotel loyalty programs allow you to pool points with family members or friends.

However, there are some considerations you need to know:

  • Point pooling sometimes comes with fees, especially if you don't have elite status with the hotel loyalty program.
  • Some hotel loyalty programs place restrictions on points transfers.
  • Most hotel loyalty programs also allow you to transfer points from credit card rewards programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards.

But if you happen to use a credit card, fly an airline or be part of a hotel loyalty program that does allow points sharing, you might find yourself booking more free flights and hotel stays in your future.

See related: How couples can pool miles, transfer points for award travel

Hotel loyalty programs that allow point pooling, at a glance

Compare restrictions, cost:  

World of Hyatt

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can only pool points once every 30 days.
Cost
  • Free.

Marriott Rewards

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can transfer up to 50,000 a year.
Cost
  • Free for Gold, Platinum members.
  • $10 per transaction for other member levels.

Hilton Honors

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can pool with up to 10 other program members.
Cost
  • Free.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can share up to 50,000 points a year.
Cost
  • Free for Gold, Platinum members.
  • $10 per transaction for other member levels.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • No.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Can only share with members sharing the same residential mailing address.
Cost
  • Free.

IHG Rewards Club

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can share an unlimited number of points every year.
Cost
  • $5 transaction fee for every 1,000 points transferred.

Radisson Rewards

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes, for Elite members.
Pool with friends
  • Yes, for Elite members.
What you need to know
  • Non-elite members can only transfer points to account holders in their own household.
Cost
  • Free.

Point pooling can help you reach elite status

Valerie Joy Wilson, the Los Angeles-based chief executive officer of Trusted Travel Girl, said that pooling points can be a way to book hotel rooms as an elite customer when you otherwise couldn't.

Many hotel chains offer valuable perks with elite status, including late checkout, free enhanced internet service, point bonuses and better rooms.

  • Say you and your spouse want to stay at your favorite hotel chain.
  • You have elite status but your wife doesn't.
  • Unfortunately, you don't have enough rewards points on your own to book the hotel under your elite status.
  • If you transfer your wife's points to your account, though, you can book your hotel under your elite status, qualifying for the perks that come with it.

"If it can help you qualify for a stay under elite status, then pooling points can be useful," Wilson said.

See related: 4 countries where you can stretch your hotel points

Hotel loyalty programs that allow points sharing

World of Hyatt

  • If you are a member of the World of Hyatt loyalty program, you can combine points with any other member once every 30 days.
  • To do this, you first must fill out a point combining request form, which asks for the basic information of the two members sharing points.
  • This service is free.
  • You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a value of 1.37 cents per point.

Marriott Rewards

  • Members of the Marriott Rewards program can share points with any other member of the program.
  • You can transfer up to 50,000 points a year through this program.
  • Each time you transfer points, though, you have to pay a $10 fee.
  • Gold and Platinum Elite members can transfer points at no cost.
  • You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott Rewards at a value of 0.8 cents per point.

Hilton Honors

  • Up to 11 members of the Hilton Honors program can pool points, something that works especially well when large groups of friends or family members are planning a trip together.
  • There is no fee for this service, but there are some restrictions.
  • Members can transfer a minimum of 1,000 points and a maximum of 500,000 points into a pool every calendar year. A member can receive up to 2 million points each calendar year.
  • To use this service, you must be an active Hilton Honors member, have been in the honors program for at least 30 days and have a minimum points balance of 1,000.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors at a value of 0.82 cents per point.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

  • Members of the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program can send up to 50,000 points to or from their accounts each year.
  • Members can share these points with any existing Ritz-Carlton Rewards member.
  • The service is free for Gold and Platinum members.
  • Silver and Basic members must pay a $10 flat fee for every sharing transaction.
  • You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to to Ritz-Carlton Rewards at a value of 1.22 cents per point.

Starwood Preferred Guest

  • Sharing points in the Starwood Preferred Guest program is more restrictive.
  • You can only share points with Starwood Preferred Guest members who share your same residential mailing address.
  • You can then share points in increments of 1,000 with these members.
  • The service is free.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest at a value of 0.74 cents per point. (Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG will be combined into one program in August 2018).

IHG Rewards Club

  • Members of the IHG Rewards Club program can transfer points to any other club member.
  • This service isn't free. You'll have to pay $5 for every 1,000 points you transfer.
  • There is no limit to the number of points you can transfer or receive.
  • You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG at a value of 0.65 cents per point.

Radisson Rewards

  • If you belong to the Radisson Rewards program, you can transfer rewards points to any other account holder. But to do this, you must be a member with Elite status.
  • You can still transfer points if you are not an Elite member, but the process is more restrictive.
  • Non-elite members can only transfer points to members who live in their own household. Both members must have been a program member for at least one year.

See related: 3 ways to score cool perks by booking hotels directly

"Pooling [hotel points] can always be tricky if you have an avid traveler and others who never travel."

Beware of pitfalls of point sharing

Sharing hotel points with friends or family can, however, come with some potential downsides, warns Scott Wainner, founder of the flight comparison app Fareness.

"Pooling can always be tricky if you have an avid traveler and others who never travel," Wainner said. "On the one hand, the avid traveler will be contributing the most points; however, they could also potentially use more than their fair share of points."

Pooling points with family members is usually the easiest option, Wainner said. Pooling points with friends becomes more complicated because all the friends must have a clear understanding that whether or not they actually end up going on a trip, their account will be debited points.


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Updated: 08-14-2018