With all the banks competing for a share of your wallet by offering benefits and huge points bonuses, getting started with collecting points and miles can be daunting. For families hoping to offset their travel costs, there's even more to consider.
What points can couples earn and share to book travel together, just as a traveling pair or with kids, too? What airline programs complement each other, and which don't? What about hotels?
Just as with solo travelers, not all credit cards and points programs are created equally for family travel. So we'll break down the best options that families should focus on to get ahead.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® cards are two of the absolute best travel rewards cards on the market, no matter who you are. The Chase Ultimate Rewards points that both of these cards earn are essentially a requirement for award travel success.
Not only can you use the points and miles to book cash flight deals with points, but you can also transfer the points to 13 different airline and hotel transfer partners to unlock even more value.
But here's the thing: Chase Ultimate Rewards are also among the best for family travelers.
That's because as long as you share the same billing address on your Chase account with another cardholder, Chase allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points between the two accounts. This means both spouses, partners, and even roommates can earn the same sign-up bonus on the same card, then pool those bonus points together under one account.
So while earning 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred may not sound like much – it's worth at least $750 toward travel – you can quickly double-down. Your spouse or significant other could open the same card, eventually combining those together for a total of more than 120,000 Ultimate Rewards points – worth at least $1,500 toward free travel.
Read our guide on how to transfer Chase points between accounts.
Or you could each open a different card for a powerful duo: One with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the other with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in three months, but these points are worth more when redeeming for travel through Chase, at 1.5 cents apiece. That means they will be worth $900.
So if you combine the 110,000 total bonus points under the Chase Sapphire Reserve account, that's worth at least $1,650 toward travel. And you also get unbeatable travel perks with the Reserve card, like lounge access for the cardholder and up to two guests, $300 in travel credits, an application credit that covers TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and more.
Thrifty Tip: Not sure which Sapphire Card to go with? See our full guide to help determine which one is right for you.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Capital One Venture Miles
Capital One Venture Miles are another fantastic option for family travelers. These can be earned from both the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the no annual fee Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
We think the Capital One Venture Rewards Card is one of the best options for travel rewards beginners. With a low annual fee that is even waived for the first year and an up to $100 credit to cover the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry once every four years, it's another solid choice. Additionally, it earns 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
But what makes these cards a great option for family travelers is the way in which Venture Miles are redeemed, and how easy they are to combine between accounts.
When it comes to using them, all you need to do is pay for any travel expense, whether that's a flight, hotel, Airbnb, cruise, or anything else that counts as travel, with your Venture card. You can then log into your account and use what Capital One refers to as the Purchase Eraser feature.
This allows you to apply your miles at a rate of 1 cent each to remove any travel-related charge from your account in the form of a statement credit. So 75,000 miles will redeem for $750 towards travel. There is no requirement to book through Capital One. Just spend as you normally would and use the Purchase Eraser once the transaction posts to your account.
And like the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards listed above, there are no restrictions to the number of users in the same household who can carry the card and earn the welcome offer bonus. But here is the kicker: Capital One Venture Miles can be transferred to anybody with a Capital One miles-earning account. There are no restrictions that the accounts be at the same address or that the users are family.
So for example, spouses could both open the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card, earn 75,000 miles each after spending $4,000 in the first three months ($8,000 total) and then combine them into one account to use towards a redemption. This would net you 150,000 total miles which could be redeemed for $1,200 in travel expenses.
To combine your points, you'll need to log into your Capital One online account and head to the “Use My Miles” option. From here you can select “Share Rewards”, and you can opt to transfer points to another user's Capital One account. You may need to call in to complete the transfer, but this is a feature that will eventually be available online within your account.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
Hilton Honors Points
Hilton Honors points are a great points currency for family travelers.
To start with, Hilton makes it easier than any other hotel chain to combine points with other members via their points pooling feature. With this feature, Hilton Honors members have the ability to combine the points in their Hilton Honors loyalty account with up to 10 other Hilton Honors program members.
You must have a minimum of 1,000 points in your account to make a points transfer, and you can transfer a maximum of 500,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, Hilton caps members from receiving a maximum of 2,000,000 points per calendar year, which is quite generous.
Second, Hilton Honors points are some of the easiest hotel points to earn because of their relationship with American Express. Amex and Hilton offer four different co-branded credit cards, and each family member is eligible to earn the welcome offer bonus on each of them once per lifetime. Because of this, it doesn't take much effort for a family to rack up 200,000 to 300,000 or more Hilton points quickly. Make sure to see our guide on which Hilton Honors credit card is right for you.
Finally, we love the Hilton Honors loyalty program because of the free breakfast benefit they give to both their Gold and Diamond program members. Just for holding either status, you will get free breakfast at almost any Hilton property for both you and a guest. And the best part about this is just for holding the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, or the Platinum Card® from American Express, you will get Gold status.
And if you hold the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you will get their top tier Diamond status. That's one of the reasons we think it's the best hotel credit card out there.
Getting free breakfast during your travels can save you hundreds of dollars, and Hilton is the only hotel program that offers the benefit for their mid-tier status holders.
Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Card.
Click Here to get more information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
World of Hyatt Points
World of Hyatt Points are another great option for family travelers, and make a great compliment to Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That's because Hyatt is one of the 13 transfer partners available from Chase Ultimate Rewards and you can transfer points into your World of Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio (1 Chase point = 1 Hyatt point).
While Hyatt does allow you to transfer points to other program members, they make you jump through a few hoops to do so. First things first, if you want to transfer your points to another World of Hyatt member, you need to fill out the PDF form at this link with information from both the transferring account and the recipient account.
Once completed, the form can either be mailed in or scanned and emailed to World of Hyatt’s customer service team. Once received, Hyatt should process the information and complete the transfer within 2-4 weeks. However, in our experience, email is the quickest method and Hyatt has processed the request within 2-5 days every time we have done it. This should be much quicker than sending it in via snail mail.
There are even more restrictions to be aware of when making a points transfer with Hyatt:
- Members can combine their points with another program member once every 30 days
- There is no limit to the number of points you can transfer
- There is no limit on the number of times you can complete a points transfer
- Hyatt lists in the terms and conditions of the transfer form that transfers must be made for a specific redemption. Whether or not this is actually enforced isn’t clear, but the fact they call this out specifically likely means you shouldn’t abuse it. This language can be found below:
“Members may combine the necessary number of points from their World of Hyatt account with those in one other specially designated World of Hyatt account in order to have a sufficient number of points to redeem a particular award.”
All that said, transferring points can be a great option for families to extend the length of an award stay. Hyatt has some of the only all-inclusive hotels in the world you can book with points and we think they are a fantastic value. Especially the family-friendly Ziva locations.
And the World of Hyatt Credit Card offers each family member the ability to earn 60,000 World of Hyatt points. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 30,000 World of Hyatt points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
You can also earn 2x points per dollar spent on up to $15,000 of spending in the first 6 months of card membership for another 30,000 points (60,000 points total).
It also offers a free anniversary night each year on your cardmember anniversary. Enough for me to justify the $95 annual fee each and every year.
While I wouldn't recommend Hyatt be the first program you concentrate on for family travel, it is a fantastic companion program if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points because of the transferability. See our full guide to transferring Hyatt points.
Click Here to learn more about the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Just because you can open multiple accounts per household and earn twice as many points and miles, doesn't mean you should. If you struggle with making credit card payments on time and in full, this isn't for you. Any benefit your family will gain from travel rewards will be wiped out from the high interest rates these cards charge on carryover balances.
But if you can be financially responsible with multiple accounts, these four programs are a great option to greatly reduce the cost of your next family trip. They all earn valuable points and make transferring them between members fairly straightforward.
Question on pooling Chase points: if my wife gets ONLY a Freedom/Freedom Unlimited card, can we transfer those points to my Sapphire card?
I know this works for my own Freedom cards, but I wasn’t sure if you need to hold a Sapphire card for them to “count” as UR points.
Great question! While I don’t know this for sure, it should work. Your spouse should be able to transfer them as long as you’re in the same household.
It works. I have the sapphire card and my wife has freedom, and we transfer points.