Sharing miles with friends, family: These airlines allow it

Many frequent flyer programs let you pool miles, but many charge high fees; these are your (mostly) free options

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

Pooling frequent flyer miles with friends, family

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You want to fly your family to Disneyland for the holidays. Problem is, you're 40,000 miles shy of qualifying for four free tickets, one each for your partner, yourself and your two children. Your partner, though, has built up 50,000 miles with the same airline. If only you could pool your miles, you'd be able to fly to Anaheim for free.

Here’s some good news: Many airlines allow you to pool miles with family members or friends.

By transferring your points to another frequent flyer's account – or accepting miles from one – you can rack up miles faster, and qualify in less time for free flights.

However, there are some considerations you need to know:

  • Most major U.S. airlines charge transfer fees that make the practice barely worthwhile.
  • Most frequent flyer programs place heavy restrictions on miles transfers.
  • In some cases, you'll only be able to share these with family members.
  • In some cases, too, those family members must live in your home.
  • Many of the international airlines that allow mile sharing also let you transfer rewards points from credit card rewards programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards.

If you happen to fly an airline that does allow miles sharing, you might find yourself booking more free flights in your future.

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

Frequent flyer programs that allow mile pooling, at a glance

Compare restrictions, cost:  

JetBlue TrueBlue Family Pooling

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • A family can include up to two adults and five children.
Cost
  • Free.

Hawaiian Airlines Share Miles

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Free if you and miles recipient have a Hawaiian Airlines credit Airline.
Cost
  • $25 service fee, 1 cent/mile transferred if you don't have a Hawaiian credit Airline.

Sun Country Airlines Ufly

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Airline only flies to 35 destinations in the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean
Cost
  • Free.

British Airways Executive Club Household Account

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • No.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • All account members must live in the same household.
Cost
  • Free.

Qantas Frequent Flyer Family Transfer

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Can transfer 600,000 miles max. every year.
Cost
  • Free.

Lufthansa Miles & More

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • No.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • A family can include up to two adults and five children.
Cost
  • Free.

Asiana Airlines Family Mileage Plan

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Need to show documents proving family relationship.
Cost
  • Free.

All Nippon Airways ANA Mileage Club Family Account

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Only open to program members who live outside of Japan.
Cost
  • 1,000-mile fee to start service.

Japan Airlines JAL Family Club

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Up to nine family members can be added to the account.
  • Only open to program members who live outside of Japan.
Cost
  • 1,000-mile fee to register.
  • 1,000-mile service fee every five years.

Emirates Skywards My Family

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • No.
What you need to know
  • Each account can have up to eight family members.
  • Must designate a head of household to manage family pooling account.
Cost
  • Free.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • You may transfer no more than 200,000 miles in a year.
  • You may also receive no more than that amount.
Cost
  • 1.25 cents for every mile transferred.
  • Plus, a processing fee of $15 for every transaction.

Delta Airlines SkyMiles

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can transfer to up to four people in a single transaction.
  • Unlimited transactions in a year.
Cost
  • 1 cent per mile transferred.
  • Plus, a processing fee of $30 for every transaction.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • Can transfer a minimum of 2,000 miles and a maximum of 60,000 daily.
Cost
  • 1 cent per mile transferred.

United Airlines MileagePlus

Pool with immediate family members
  • Yes.
Pool with extended family
  • Yes.
Pool with friends
  • Yes.
What you need to know
  • You can transfer 500 to 100,000 miles from your account to another.
  • You can transfer or receive up to 100,000 miles per calendar year.
Cost
  • $7.50 for every 500 miles transferred.
  • Plus, a processing fee of $30 for every transaction.

Benefits of pooling miles

You can rack up miles faster to book flights that might otherwise be out of your budget by pooling miles with relatives and friends.

For instance, a family member might fly with you occasionally:

  • Maybe you and your family members took a family vacation last summer.
  • Your family members, though, might not be flying again anytime soon. But you are.
  • By transferring their miles from their frequent flyer accounts to yours, you might now have enough miles to make your next flight a free one.

While this can be a great way to rack up miles, Scott Wainner, founder of the flight comparison app Fareness, said there is a potential pitfall for sharing miles: One person might end up contributing the greatest amount of miles, and might then feel taken advantage of.

"Before you share points, ask yourself if you are willing to give all your points away and whether sharing points would create issues in a friendship or within your family," Wainner said.

Pooling helps maximize miles earned on family travel

Your children probably don't rack up many airline miles. But they can earn miles when they travel with you for family vacations.

Here's how to maximize those miles:

  • Set up frequent flyer accounts for them with your preferred airline – one that allows you to share airline miles for free.
  • Then enroll them in the airline's miles-pooling program.
  • You can then transfer your children’s miles to your account, say, when you need to travel without them. 
  • Those extra miles from the children might pay off in a free ticket.

Few U.S. airlines allow free mile pooling

Most domestic airlines, including Southwest, United, American and Delta, don’t allow free pooling. While they let you share miles with friends or family, the fees they charge are very high – usually, around one cent per mile, plus processing fees (see chart).

In that case, using your own miles to redeem a flight for a family member or friend, instead of transferring miles to their account, would be a more viable – and affordable – option.

Only three domestic airlines let you share miles at no cost – JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines and Sun Country Airlines. These airlines offer great flexibility when it comes to pooling miles. The downside? The network of destinations where they fly isn't nearly as extensive as that of other major U.S. airlines.

However, many international carriers do offer this service at no or very low cost – and many of them are partners with U.S. airlines and/or let you transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and/or American Express Membership Rewards.

See related: Maximize rewards mile redemption through partner airlines

Domestic frequent flyer programs that allow sharing, pooling miles

JetBlue's TrueBlue

JetBlue's pooling program is one of the most generous offered by airlines.

  • It's free.
  • You create a family account with the airline, designating a head of household who will manage the account.
  • A family can have up to two adults and five children.
  • Once you create an account, family members select how many points to contribute upfront and the percentage of points they want to contribute on an ongoing basis for every transaction.
  • Be careful when setting these percentages: You can only make changes in contributions once a year.
  • You aren’t limited to immediate family members in this program, either. Account members can include anyone – aunts, uncles, grandparents, even friends.
  • There are some restrictions, listed on the JetBlue site.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to JetBlue at a value of 1.12 cents per point.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Share Miles

Hawaiian Airlines also offers a generous sharing program, called Share Miles.

  • You can share your HawaiianMiles with anyone else's HawaiianMiles account, including both family members and friends.
  • To share miles for free, you must use a Hawaiian Airlines credit card such as Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard from Barclays
  • If you have one of these cards, you can share miles with any other Hawaiian Airlines primary credit or check cardholder at no cost.
  • The program also doesn't limit how many miles you can transfer in a transaction or in a year, but you can only make 10 share transactions in a calendar year.
  • You can also share miles with members who don't have a Hawaiian Airlines credit or debit card, but this will cost you a $25 service fee and 1 cent for every mile transferred.
  • You also must share a minimum of 2,000 HawaiianMiles at one time.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hawaiian Airlines at a value of 1.27 cents per point.

Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country Airlines is a small carrier based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport that flies to 35 destinations in the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean.

  • Their Ufly Rewards program allows members to pool their points with up to nine other Ufly members.
  • The program is free, and it isn't limited to family members. You can pool points with any member of the airline's Ufly program.
  • To do this, a Ufly member creates a pool and becomes its administrator. That member can then invite other members to join.
  • Members of the pool allocate a portion or percentage of their points to the pool.

International airlines that allow mile pooling, sharing

British Airways' Executive Club household account

While most U.S. carriers don't allow free miles pooling, several international ones do.

British Airways offers one of the best pooling programs.

  • Members of the airline's Executive Club can create a household account that includes up to six people. Those people, though, must be family members who live in your household.
  • Not everyone on the family account must be an Executive Club member, just the person designated as the head of household.
  • This person also manages the account and is the only person who can remove or add members and make address changes.
  • You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a value of 2.29 cents per point.
  • You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways at a value of 2.23 cents per point.

Qantas Family Transfer

Australian carrier Qantas runs its own family transfers program.

  • Members of the airline's frequent flyer program can transfer points to an eligible family member.
  • This family member must be a member of Qantas' frequent flyer program, too.
  • Eligible family members include spouses, domestic partners, step-parents, parents, children, brothers, grandchildren, in-laws, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and first cousins.
  • You'll have to transfer a minimum of 5,000 miles with each transaction and a maximum of 600,000.
  • You do have an unlimited number of transfers in any 12-month period, up to a maximum of 600,000 Quantas Points.

Lufthansa Miles & More

East Germany-based carrier Lufthansa this May began allowing members of its Miles and More program to pool miles with family members.

  • Up to seven family members – up to two adults and up to five children – can combine miles.
  • Members can share points with up to two adults and five children.
  • The program allows pooling award miles. Status miles cannot be pooled.

Asiana Airlines Family Mileage Plan

Based in Seoul, South Korea, Asiana Airlines offers its own points pooling program, the Family Mileage Plan.

  • It allows you to transfer miles to a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and parent-in-law.
  • You will, however, have to provide documents proving your relationship with the family members you want to include in the program.
  • Up to five family members can be included in this program.

All Nippon Airways ANA Mileage Club Family Account

Japan-based All Nippon Airways' ANA Mileage Club Family Account allows members of the carrier's ANA Mileage Club to register two to eight family members for miles sharing.

  • Eligible family members include spouse, partner and relatives within 2 degrees of kinship.
  • This program is only open to mileage club members who live outside of Japan.
  • Members must pay a registration fee of 1,000 miles to begin the pooling service. Sharing miles after this is free.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to All Nippon Airways at a value of 1.42 cents per point.

Japan Airlines JAL Family Club

Tokyo-based Japan Airlines allows members of its frequent flyer program, JAL Mileage Bank, to pool miles with family members.

  • This program is only open to mileage bank members who do not live in Japan.
  • Eligible family members include spouses, parents, spouse's parents, children and children's spouses.
  • You can add up to nine family members in a JAL Family Club account.
  • To join the program, you will have to pay an initial registration fee of 1,000 miles.
  • You'll have to pay another 1,000 miles every five years after enrolling to keep your account active.
  • You'll have to pay 1,000 miles, too, every time you add another family member to your account after the initial registration.

Emirates Skywards My Family

Dubai-based Emirates allows members of its Skywards rewards program to pool miles with family members.

  • Eligible family members include spouses, partners, children, step-children and in-laws.
  • Each account can have up to eight family members, with a nominated family head who manages it.
  • You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Emirates at a value of 1.04 cents per point.


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Updated: 12-10-2018