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How to Gift Your Credit Card Rewards, Points, or Miles

The holidays are a season of giving, but if you’re trying to stick to a budget this year, you’re likely looking for ways to reduce your spending while still giving your family and friends presents they’ll enjoy. That’s where your accumulated credit card rewards can come in. You can gift them to others, without having to spend another dime. This article explains how.

Key Takeaways

  • Most credit card rewards programs don’t allow you to transfer your points directly to another person, but you can convert them to miles and give the person those.
  • You may, however, incur transfer fees.
  • Two exceptions are JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines, which make it easier to transfer miles free of charge.
  • Other ways to gift your miles include using them to buy gift cards or merchandise for the people on your list.

Gifting Your Credit Card Points or Miles to Someone Else

If you’re like many people, your travel plans for the past year may have been disrupted due to COVID-19. So you may have a larger-than-usual stockpile of credit card miles or points sitting in your account.

In most cases, you can’t transfer points or rewards directly to someone else; instead, you have to redeem them for frequent flyer miles and then give the miles to the person of your choice. While some airlines charge costly transfer and service fees, there are two notable exceptions:

  • JetBlue. JetBlue’s credit cards allow you to earn points you can redeem for flights. And with JetBlue’s Point Pooling program, you can create a “pool” of up to seven friends or family members. As you earn points, 100% of your points are entered into the pool, and the designated “pool leader” can redeem those points for award flights with zero transfer fees.
  • Hawaiian Airlines. If you or the recipient have a Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard, Bankoh Hawaiian Airlines Visa check card, or Hawaiian Airlines Visa credit card-Japan, you can share your miles with other people without paying transaction fees. To do so, log into your credit card account and click on the “Share Miles” option. Enter the recipient’s name and the number of miles you want to transfer. 

Other Ways to Use Your Credit Cards Rewards for Holiday Gifts

Because most airlines charge fees for transferring your points or miles to another person, it’s not always the best use of them. However, there are other ways you can use your rewards to give meaningful gifts: 

1. Make Travel Arrangements for Them

While transferring miles usually incurs a fee, you can avoid that by booking another person’s travel arrangements for them. You can give them a handmade gift certificate that says you’ll cover the cost of their flight or hotel stay. Once they’ve made their plans, you can go ahead and book their travel through your credit card rewards redemption page, using your rewards as the payment method. 

2. Use Your Rewards to Purchase Gift Cards

Most rewards cards offer multiple redemption options, and many include gift cards as one of them. You can use your points for cards that you give as gifts, or you can get cards for popular retailers and use them as your payment method when you do your holiday shopping. 

3. Redeem Your Points for Merchandise

Many cards have the option of redeeming your rewards for merchandise, such as jewelry or electronics. For example, you could use your rewards to purchase a tablet, necklace, or new luggage for your gift recipient. 

4. Request a Bank Deposit or Statement Credit

If you use your card to buy holiday gifts, you can redeem your credit card rewards for bank deposits or statement credits and pay yourself back for those purchases. 

5. Donate to Charity in a Loved One’s Name

Many credit card companies offer the option to donate your rewards to select charities, so you can make a donation in the name of some else as a gift. For example:

  • American Express. You can use your Amex points to make charitable donations through Just Giving. 
  • Citi. You can redeem your points for charitable donations to organizations like Susan G. Komen, SmileTrain, and World Central Kitchen. 
  • Discover. Discover allows cardholders to donate their rewards to charities like the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, or the World Wildlife Fund.

The Bottom Line

The points, miles, and other rewards you’ve built up in your credit card accounts are a resource worth considering when you do your holiday gift shopping this year. But check on the rules for transferring miles and watch out for any costly transfer fees. Rather than transferring points or miles, you might find that redeeming accumulated rewards directly for travel reservations for family or friends could yield the most value. Otherwise redeeming points or miles for gift cards or merchandise can be a more convenient option during the holidays, even if maximum points or miles redemption value potential isn’t fully realized.

Do Credit Card Rewards Expire?

In most cases, credit card rewards don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. However, some rewards—particularly those that involve airline miles—will expire if you don’t earn or redeem rewards at least once every 18 months. It’s worth checking your credit card agreement so you know the rules. 

Can You Give Credit Card Rewards to Someone Else?

Most programs don’t allow you to transfer your credit card rewards directly to another person unless they also have an account with that program and are an immediate family member. To transfer your rewards to someone else, you typically have to redeem them for airline miles and then share those miles. Or, you can redeem the rewards for gift cards or merchandise and gift those instead. 

Can You Get a Tax Deduction for Donating Credit Card Rewards?

Many credit card companies give their cardholders the option of donating their points, miles, or cash back to select charitable partner organizations. However, donations of your credit card rewards aren’t normally tax-deductible.