Might Want to Use Your Frequent-Flier Miles Before You Die

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Several airlines don't allow them to be transferred, even if you have a great reason for not using them, such as being dead.

Even if you’re smart enough to leave them in your will, there’s no guarantee loved ones will get your frequent-flier miles.

USA Today asked several airlines about their policy for the transfer of miles or points that can be redeemed for discounted or free travel. Five outright said it’s not gonna happen:

  • Delta
  • Hawaiian
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • Spirit

Others hedged. Virgin America told the paper that transferring the deceased’s miles was handled on a “case-by-case basis.”

United gave a wide variety of answers. Its written rules say benefits can’t be transferred “except as expressly permitted by United.” A spokesman told USA Today there’s a fee associated with transferring United miles: $15 per 1,000 miles, plus a $30 transaction fee. A consumer hotline for the program instead said there was a flat $150 fee. When Airfarewatchdog.com asked, it got “a myriad of answers from a flat-out ‘no’ to a full-on ‘yes,'” the paper says. Last year, when The New York Times asked, it also got different answers — including yet another price point, $75.

Those that do allow transfers generally don’t charge fees, USA Today says. “Many allow miles or points to transfer to any beneficiary who provides proof, while others limit who can receive them,” it says. They may be restricted to a spouse or domestic partner, or someone living at the same residential address.

The same holds true for hotel reward points, USA Today says. The companies that explicitly prohibit transfers include Choice, Omni, Red Roof and Shilo.

Have you ever successfully transferred reward points? Would you favor a hotel brand or airline based on the ability to transfer miles or points? Let us know on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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