The Top Six (Miles-Related) Reasons to Get Married
I’m jealous of married couples in the miles-and-points world. There are some awesome values that are unlocked by having a permanent travel companion. Here are the Top Six Miles-Related Reasons to Get Married, and the fix for single travelers who can’t take advantage of the same benefits.
Reason 1: Combine SPG Starpoints for Nights & Flights or Transfers to Airline Miles
One of the most user-friendly features of the Starwood Preferred Guest program is that you can transfer Starpoints from one SPG account to another as long as both accounts have had the same address on file for 30 days.
There are some incredible SPG redemptions that require specific thresholds of Starpoints, so being able to combine them gets you more valuable rewards than having two smaller balances would.
As an example, imagine you and your girlfriend both have 10k Starpoints. You could each transfer the 10,000 to your American Airlines accounts and have 10k AA miles each.
Or you can combine the Starpoints, so one of you has 20k Starpoints. Transfers of Starpoints in increments of 20,000 unlock a 5k mile bonus. So if you combined Starpoints, you can transfer the 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 AA miles.
Getting married would be worth 5,000 American Airlines miles in this case!
Even better if you both got the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and met its minimum spending requirement, you’d each have 35,000 Starpoints. Each of you having 35,000 Starpoints is OK, but one of you having 70,000 is better. If she transfers you her points, you can use the combined 70,000 Starpoints for a Nights & Flights award.
I wrote extensively about Nights & Flights yesterday. At the 70k redemption level, you’d get five free hotel nights at any Starwood Category 4 property and 50,000 American Airlines, US Airways, or Delta miles, which you could use for two domestic roundtrip flight awards, to get to that hotel.
Getting married would unlock Nights & Flights, which would greatly increase the value of your Starpoints.
Single’s Fix: You don’t need to be married to transfer Starpoints. You just need to have had the same address on file with SPG for 30 days. Finding any travel companion and pooling points will increase the value of your Starpoints. Or you can both the personal and business versions of the card on your own to get to 70,000 Starpoints.
Reason 2: Get Eight Consecutive Free Hotel Nights at Nearly Any Hyatt and Hilton Worldwide
The Hyatt credit card offers two free hotel nights at almost any Hyatt worldwide after spending $1,000 in three months. There is a $75 annual fee.
The Hilton Reserve offers two free weekend nights–Friday, Saturday, or Sunday–at almost any Hilton worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months of card memebership. There is a $95 annual fee. Rookie Alli has written about some of the top redemption choices.
If a couple both got both cards, they could get eight consecutive free nights.
- Saturday: his Hilton free night #1
- Sunday: his Hilton free night #2
- Monday: his Hyatt free night #1
- Tuesday: his Hyatt free night #2
- Wednesday: her Hyatt free night #1
- Thursday: her Hyatt free night #2
- Friday: her Hilton free night #1
- Saturday: her Hilton free night #2
The total annual fees for the first year–which are not waived on these cards–would be $170 per person, so there is some out-of-pocket cost, but this could still be an incredible eight night vacation at some of the world’s nicest and most expensive hotels at prices well within reach.
Single’s Fix: Singles are at a big disadvantage when it comes to hotel rewards because the same amount of points or free nights are needed to house one or two people.
Reason 3: Reap Full Value from a Southwest Companion Pass
Anyone who earns 110,000 Southwest points through flying or a few other ways in a year receives a companion pass that allows one designee to fly for just $2.50 per segment whenever the companion-pass holder is flying.
The companion pass works whether its holder is flying a paid ticket or award. If the holder is on board, the designated companion can be on board for $2.50.
The easiest way to earn the 110k Southwest points needed in a year is for one person to open a personal and business Southwest card when the bonuses are 50k per card. Opening those cards would normally mean more than $1,700 in free Southwest flights. With a companion pass, the value of free Southwest flights doubles to $3,400 for opening two cards!
Single’s Fix: Skip the Southwest cards. Open cards that earn you the perfect miles for aspirational travel. Post photos of yourself flying the world’s nicest First Class products and tag your married friends who are stuck on Southwest in the photos.
Reason 4: Borrowing and “Combining” Miles
In general you can’t combine miles across accounts or airline programs. (See Airline Miles Basics). But you can do things that are similar to combining miles. For instance, you can use one American Airlines account to book yourself an outbound and a different one to book your return thus getting the same result without ever combining miles.
Then because you are married, you can trust the person who borrowed the miles to offer you some of their miles for a later redemption, since you can almost always book anyone a ticket from anyone’s frequent flyer account.
Single’s Fix: Borrow your parents’ and grandparents’ miles. I’m pretty sure everyone has one relative with an unexplained and unused six-figure balance with a legacy carrier.
Reason 5: Access a Bigger Pool of Ultimate Rewards.
Ultimate Rewards can be transferred:
- from one of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to another of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards
- from one of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to one of your spouse’s Ultimate Rewards-earning cards
- from one of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to one of your partner loyalty accounts
- from one of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to one of your spouse’s partner loyalty accounts
Being able to combine your Ultimate Rewards with those of a travel partner can be convenient. For instance if one of you is traveling to Europe in business class alone, that costs 100k United miles–an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. If each of you has 50k Ultimate Rewards, you are better off transferring them all to one United account to book a roundtrip award than to two accounts to book two one ways. For one thing, a roundtrip United award can include a stopover, which one way awards cannot. For another, if you need to make a change or cancellation, you can do that for one fee if the trip is on one ticket instead of two fees on two tickets.
Single’s Fix: Ultimate Rewards can only be transferred to spouses, but American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred to anyone’s partner loyalty account.
Reason 6: A Trusted Authorized User to Help Meet Spending Requirements
Imagine a couple where each party spends $1,500 per month on credit cards. He could get the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold and add her as an authorized user to both cards. Their combined $9,000 of spending in three months would be enough to meet both spending requirements and earn 98k+ Ultimate Rewards. Then she could apply for both cards and add him as an authorized user for 98k+ more points.
Single’s Fix: With the spending levels in this example, there is no great fix. But of course, you could always put more of your spending on credit cards.
What are some other benefits that married folks have over singled folks when it comes to miles and points? Most of the benefits seem to relate to the “discount” of sharing a hotel room, but not all.