Earning Loyalty Points as a Family

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Many people love loyalty points. As you spend money, you’ll earn points or miles. Once you’ve collected enough, you can cash them in for free travel, groceries, and merchandise. With loyalty points being so lucrative, many people naturally look for ways to increase their points-earning potential, such as involving family members.

If you live with a partner or are part of a family household, there’s no reason not to have everyone involved. With more people earning points, you get access to a bigger pool. That means you’ll be able to redeem your points much quicker.

That said, pooling points between family members is not always easy or straightforward. Here’s how to collect loyalty points as a family. 

Make sure every family member has a loyalty account.

Opening a loyalty account with airlines, hotels, cruises, and grocery stores costs you nothing. While it may seem odd to get your two-year-old their own account, it actually makes a lot of sense.

For example, with many travel loyalty programs, such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan, each individual earns points on their flights. If a family member doesn’t have an account, they won’t earn any points. You’d literally be giving points away, which is why having an account for everyone is advantageous.

Signing up all family members for cruise loyalty programs is also a good strategy since everyone individually earns points which are cumulated over their lifetime. Your children may be grateful to have already accumulated points once they start booking their own cruises come adulthood.

You would obviously have to create email accounts for your kids to get them signed up, but that’s a minor inconvenience for the long-term benefits. 

Have every adult sign up for their own credit card

Many couples share a joint credit card, with one being the main cardholder and the other being a supplementary cardholder. There is nothing wrong with this strategy since it can simplify managing household expenses, but you may miss out on a major benefit. 

The most lucrative way to earn lots of points is by taking advantage of sign up bonuses offered by some of the best travel credit cards. When you have a joint credit card, you only get one bonus. But, if each adult gets their own card, that’s two welcome offers you can access. 

Many sign up bonuses are worth $500+. To get that kind of value on your regular spending, you’d have to spend $25,000 a year. And this assumes you’re getting a return of 2% on all of your spending. Instead of focusing solely on a single credit card, consider the regular purchases you’ll make as a family throughout the year. If you ever have major expenses coming up, one partner could sign up for a new credit card to get the welcome bonus.

Take advantage of American Express referral bonuses

It’s easy to understand why collecting points as a family is beneficial, but it can also be lucrative in different ways. American Express has a refer a friend program, which allows a cardholder to refer people to apply for American Express credit cards. 

Not only does the person giving the referral get extra American Express Membership Rewards points, but the person applying via the referral link usually gets a better offer than the public offer.

For example, the American Express Platinum Card usually has a welcome bonus of around 90,000 points. One partner would get that offer if they signed up for the card. Once they have the card, they can refer their spouse. The person making the referral would get an extra 10,000 points, while the person applying with a referral link also gets an additional 10,000 points. All in, the couple has earned an additional 20,000 points without any real additional work.

This is known as Player 1 and Player 2 mode. You could technically add more people to the game, such as parents and siblings. 

How to combine your points into a single account

One negative aspect of having two or more people earn points is that the points will be scattered into multiple accounts. This can make redeeming your points problematic. You might have enough points in total but not enough in a single account. To further complicate things, many loyalty programs have policies where accounts will be closed due to inactivity.

Since most loyalty programs know this is an issue, they’ve introduced ways for families to combine or pool their points. In some cases, it’s a straightforward process, but at times, there are limitations. Here are some loyalty programs where you can pool your points.

Pooling your points with Aeroplan

Aeroplan has a family sharing program that allows up to eight family members to pool their points. Pooling points obviously makes it easier to redeem later since everything accumulated by a family is in a single account. When redeeming points, the number of points deducted is proportionate to what members brought in. 

For example, let’s say four family members are in the family sharing plan. Two parents have 40% of the points each. The two children have 10% each. Now let’s say a redemption of 10,000 Aeroplan points needs to be made. Each parent would have 4,000 points deducted, while the kids would each see 1,000 points taken.

The ability to pool your points is beneficial since it gives families a way to use those loose points one member may have. In addition, it also helps you keep your account active so you don’t lose any points.

Pooling points with Marriott Bonvoy

There is no family sharing with Marriott Bonvoy points. However, every member can gift up to 100,000 points to another member for free each calendar year. You might not be able to transfer your entire balance over, but every bit helps. The easiest way to transfer your points is to use the online form found here

Pooling Marriott Bonvoy points can be handy for families if one person has an opportunity to earn Marriott Elite status. Since status is based on nights stayed, the family member chasing status could book all of the stays under their account. The status benefits only apply to the person who’s making the reservation. That’s why you want to combine points when you can.

Pooling points with American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards doesn’t have an option to pool your points with family members, nor can you transfer your points to another person. That said, the best way to use your American Express Membership Rewards points is to move them to one of their transfer partners

The most common and valuable partners for Canadians are Aeroplan and Marriott Bonvoy. As mentioned above, you can then combine those points as a family. Alternatively, you can transfer your points to British Airways and Hilton Honors. Both programs also allow you to combine your points with family members.

The ability to transfer points into multiple different useful loyalty programs is the main reason I rank American Express Membership Rewards as the best credit card travel program in Canada.

Pooling points with PC Optimum

Although not travel related, it’s worth mentioning PC Optimum. The program allows up to four family members to pool their points. This is obviously handy since anyone in the group can redeem points to offset their purchases.

PC Optimum is one of the most popular loyalty programs in Canada. You can earn points at Loblaws-owned grocery stores, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Esso gas stations. Since every family member will likely shop at different stores, having your points pooled makes things easier. 

Final thoughts

The benefits of collecting points as a family greatly outweigh the extra time it takes to manage more accounts and credit cards. Although it may take a few additional steps, you’ll likely maximize your time and value compared to if everyone manages their accounts individually. In addition, this is an excellent way for families to use points from family members that may not travel as much, such as children and grandparents. You’ll quickly realize how much you can save once you get your entire family involved with loyalty points.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

1 Comment

  1. John Doe on August 26, 2023 at 3:31 PM

    Hello, consolidating points within the family is indeed a beneficial approach. However, I’d like to underscore the significance of carefully reviewing Terms of Use. While the notion of enrolling a two-year-old for loyalty points is intriguing, it’s imperative to recognize that several programs, such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan, stipulate an 18-year age requirement. Overlooking this detail might unwittingly lead to potential future issues, including disputes that could result in legal action. Let’s make sure we capitalize on the advantages while upholding the program’s set guidelines.

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