Amex Makes it Harder (but not impossible) for Families To Share Points

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I saw some bad news today about one of my favorite types of flexible and transferable points…looks like American Express Membership Reward points can no longer be transferred into anyone’s hotel and airline programs the way they could be in the past.  While it may not necessarily have been in line with the terms, you were functionally able to transfer your Membership Reward points into anyone’s hotel or airline account account as long as you had the name and account number.  This meant I could top up my mom’s Aeroplan account with some points so she would have enough to redeem an award, or send some HHonors points to a cousin who needed a few more points to redeem a free night.  No more.  Well, sort of.

I tested the new transfer functionality out by trying to transfer some points to Aeroplan as I had in the past, and it defaulted to my mom’s account info since that was an account I had transferred to before.  I don’t even see the option to change it to my Aeroplan account, though I’m sure that is possible by calling in if nothing else. When I select ANA it defaults to my account as that is the one I have used for that program.  When I select a program I have never transferred to it makes me select my name from a drop down box where there are no other names and then add my frequent flyer number.  Presumably there would have been authorized users to select from the drop down box if I had any on that account…which I guess I need to add!

Membership Rewards Transfer

The solution to all of this is to just add your family member as an authorized user if you think you will be sharing points into their hotel or airline accounts.  This is an easy solution for a close family member you trust such as a spouse, parent, older child, etc.  If you need to book a flight for someone less frequently it may be easier just to transfer the points into your frequent flyer account and then book for them from there.  Some programs are easier than others to do this, but with most it is possible.

This is a bit of a pain for those used to the convenience of sharing Membership Reward points with their family members, but the reality is I know that folks used this feature for more than just kind-hearted sharing, so I can understand Amex wanting to clamp down on the points essentially being sold to others.

This Flyertalk thread makes it sound like the transfer would work to anyone with the same last name, but the functionality in my account didn’t look that way when I tested it today.  Again, solution is just add the person you want to share with as an authorized user and/or just transfer to your own frequent flyer account and book for them from there.

Will this impact how you share your points with family members?

Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing this development.


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  1. That seems like an expensive proposition if you only have a platinum card. Probably not worth the extra fee, just to transfer in miles.

  2. What about transfers to a child’s acct? Thats what really concerns me (topping off, keeping miles alive, etc)

    • Jason, I’ve read 15 is the min age for Amex to be an AU though haven’t tested that. I agree the kid thing is a bummer. Maybe there will be a solution for that. Personally I don’t have any kids accounts that would be an issue with but looking to shopping portals or similar is an option if there ends up being no Membership Rewards transfer solution.

  3. I have to agree with AMEX here. I don’t think it does any good for the frequent flyer/stayer programs that we enjoy to have abusers selling miles/points. The sale of points/miles increases the cost of the program and decreases redemption opportunities for those of us who earned the points. This system allows transfers to family and close friends (you don’t actually have to give the card to an authorized user, but you are certainly not going to authorize a stranger), but puts a crimp in abuse.

  4. No surprise – I agree with you. It’s inconvenient, but for families using the program the way Amex probably intended, it’s still workable (via Authorized Users).

    I think that this was intended to shut down people that were basically hoarding MR points and then selling them on the black market.

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