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While I can’t remember ever seeing it written down as an official policy, I have heard some success stories of people being able to transfer their American Express Membership Reward points to a spouse’s Membership Rewards account. This didn’t seem to always work, though perhaps being an authorized user on the account might have helped. Even though it didn’t seem to be a guaranteed way to move points into one account, it was a way that sometimes worked for spouses. Note that this is different than being able to transfer your MR points to another person’s airline or hotel account, which still works.
I hadn’t heard a success story in a while and it honestly had slipped my mind that it ever worked, but was reminded of this way to move points by a reader this week who emailed asking if the policy had changed. He had been able to transfer points between his Membership Rewards account and his wife’s a year ago, but was told he could not when he tried to do it this week. Based on reading this Flyertalk thread that seems to be a common theme. Folks had some success until a certain date (perhaps late in 2013), but now aren’t having that same luck.
This issue comes up most frequently when someone wants to close their last Membership Rewards earning credit card, but isn’t yet ready to transfer all the points out to a hotel or airline partner. Once you transfer the points you lose the flexibility of being able to take advantage of potential future transfer bonuses, or be able to move them where you want them based on award availability and destination choice once your vacation plans are definite. Transferring them to your spouse’s Membership Rewards account kept them safe and flexible until your plans were certain.
This used to be a more common problem when the Amex cards that earned fully transferable Membership Reward points all came with annual fees that were in the triple digits, however that is no longer the case. Thanks to the annual fee free EveryDay Credit Card and the Everday Preferred Credit Card that comes with a $95 annual fee, there are now much affordable ways to keep your Membership Reward points safe than there were in the past. I have even already heard success stories of people downgrading their Membership Rewards earning cards that come with higher annual fees to one of these products.
If it is indeed the case that you can no longer transfer points to a spouse’s Membership Rewards account even as a courtesy or exception, that is a loss, however it is a much smaller loss than it would have been in the past. Simply get a fee-free Membership Rewards earning card and keep them safe and flexible. It doesn’t hurt that the EveryDay Credit Cards are actually pretty useful for earning as well as keeping the points safe. Alternatively, you can still choose to just transfer the points out to a hotel or airline partner, and then close out all of your Membership Rewards earning cards if that is what you really want to do.
While we are on the topic, here is a post on which programs do allow spouses (or even non-spouses) to combine points or miles for free.
For most of us it will make sense to keep our individual Membership Reward accounts open and active thanks to the new annual fee free way to do it. I’d love to hear your current strategy when it comes to keeping your Membership Reward accounts, as well as if you have had any recent experience trying to transfer to your spouse’s Membership Rewards account.
Disclosure: In the interest of being totally transparent, I do have a relationship with Amex related to the EveryDay Credit Cards, but this post is outside of that relationship. There are no affiliate links in this post, just links to the best offers currently available.