This topic has been on my mind for a while now. What do you do when friends and family ask to borrow your miles and points? Do you have a certain circle of people with whom you will freely share your points?
My feelings on this subject are probably different than Leana’s (because I know she is super generous with her points!) Not to say that I am a scrooge, but I’ve had some requests that make me scratch my head. Since I’ve started writing about our vacations with miles and points, I’ve had some casual friends/acquaintances ask me if I have any “extra” points to use for their couples getaway/girls getaway, etc.
I must admit, I get uncomfortable when people ask me for points. It sort of makes me feel similar to when I’m asked to contribute to a fundraiser/go-fund-me for something I don’t agree with or don’t know enough about to determine if it’s a worthwhile cause.
Misconceptions about Miles and Points from Non-collectors
I realized, though, that most people who don’t collect miles and points have these misconceptions:
Miles and points are free. Ok, some miles and points are free. For frequent business travelers who will be traveling on the company dime, I guess those miles and points are accumulated for no out-of-pocket expense.
But for most of us in this miles and points hobby, accumulating points involves strategy and opportunity costs. If we charge three months of bills on a hotel credit card to collect a big bonus, we are forgoing cashback or other rewards that we could be accumulating for those same expenses.
Plus, there are a few credit cards that we do pay annual fees on if the bonus is worth it (like the Amex Surpass $75 annual fee with the 100k bonus and free anniversary night). Hopefully, we have all done the math to make sure the fees are worth the rewards.
I’m swimming in miles and points and have an endless supply due to my job. I can see why people would think this. My family travels on two to three major vacations each year thanks to miles and points. Plus, we sprinkle in a few local overnight getaways.
However, my miles and points stash at any given point isn’t really that big. Since I have five people in my family, we have to spend a lot of points to get anywhere. And, we burn them like crazy since otherwise we risk devaluation.
I don’t get any “extra” points because I write for a miles and points travel blog. I’m seeking bonuses and navigating offers just like our blog readers.
Miles and points are easy to transfer to other people. Many hotels and airlines either don’t allow you to transfer points to others or you have to pay to transfer. So it’s not easy just to let someone have an odd amount of points to top off their account.
It’s usually easier to just book flights or book a stay for somebody using your points but in their name, although not all companies allow that either. See this post from MileCards.
Generosity with Miles and Points
Obviously, this is a very personal subject and there is no wrong or right answer. I have asked myself if I am being generous enough with my stash, or if I’m holding on to them too tightly. And yes, my religion plays into this as well, but I won’t go into that.
Our family members have never asked for miles and points. My siblings do their own travel hacking with credit card bonuses. My mom can’t travel for health reasons, and my husband’s side of the family doesn’t like to travel.
I’ve given some points to the Fisher House Foundation and I’ve booked a few flights for a family member to travel to meet us around the holidays. But other than that, the rest of our points have gone towards my own family’s enjoyment.
When acquaintances ask for points, I usually tell them (honestly) that I don’t have any extra points. My points flow into our accounts and flow out like hot potatoes as we book our trips. I also don’t pass up the opportunity to tell them how they can earn points through credit card sign-ups for a future trip.
But I ask myself, should I be doing more for others?
The Points I Couldn’t Give Away
A few months ago, I came into an unexpected windfall of hotel points. Club Carlson awarded me some points to compensate for a yucky experience at a Country Inn and Suites near Denver (see this post).
When I realized we would not be able to use the points easily within the next year, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to gift these points to someone who could really use them. Club Carlson has two properties near Port Canaveral, and I know several people with upcoming cruises. Bingo!
However, gifting these points proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I had a family who could use them, but then they backed out due to a change of plans. This happened two more times. I was beginning to wonder if I could ever give these points away! Finally, about a month ago, I found a taker. (A note from Leana: I was the taker. Thanks, Nancy!)
Readers, do you ever get uncomfortable requests to borrow your miles and points? Do your family and friends participate in this hobby and understand the ins and outs? I’d love to hear your thoughts (feel free to comment anonymously).
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.