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Editor note: Kennedy Miller is a 16-year-old writer and artist who has been writing and sharing her travel and financial wisdom since 2016 in publications including Business Insider and Points With A Crew. It’s never too early to begin collecting points and miles from your travels. In this post, Kennedy shares advice for her fellow teenagers on how they can earn points and miles.
I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to travel a lot. I’ve been on many trips throughout my childhood and teenage years. In 2018, I went to China and Taiwan with my dad. In the summer of 2019, our family spent a few weeks in Spain and Portugal, just to name a few.
Now that I’m older, I’ve been working on earning my own points and miles. You may think that since I’m a teenager it wouldn’t be possible to earn points and miles, but it’s actually possible!
There are a variety of ways that teenagers can earn points and miles, so you can pick the one that works best for you and your family. Let's review your options.
Age Limits On Enrolling In Loyalty Programs
You don’t have to be 18 to enroll in a loyalty program. Most programs allow you to open an account at any age with your parents’ permission. Some people enroll their children when they are only a couple of days old. This way they can start earning miles at a very young age.
Another reason why it’s so great to start early is that many airlines don’t expire miles until you reach a certain age. Here are a few examples:
- American Airlines AAdvantage miles don’t expire until you turn 21.
- Air Canada Aeroplan miles don’t expire until you turn 18.
- Delta SkyMiles don’t expire at all.
- United MileagePlus miles also don’t expire.
Once you reach the certain age, your miles will start to follow whatever the company’s policy is for miles expiration.
Earning Miles By Flying
With airline tickets, the person who is actually flying will earn miles regardless of who booked the ticket. Miles are earned “butt-in-seat”, meaning whoever’s butt is in the seat gets the miles. It doesn't matter who reserves or pays for the flight.
With hotels, it’s a bit different. There are no “body-in bed” points. Usually, whoever books the hotel room earns the points for themselves. It's even possible to book a hotel room for someone else and still earn points to your account.
So, earning miles by flying is one of the easiest ways to boost your balance. All you have to do is book a ticket somewhere — or have someone do it for you — and earn miles as you enjoy your trip!
Ways To Earn Points And Miles Besides Traveling
If you aren't able to travel much yet but still want to earn points and miles, there are a lot of other ways to do so. Here are a few ways to earn miles and points without traveling that teenagers might be able to take advantage of:
I think one of the best ways to earn miles is by signing up for an airline's credit card. Some airlines give you miles and/or points just for signing up for their card, and you get even more for using it. You won’t be able to apply for your own credit card until you’re at least 18. So, you might be able to be an authorized user on your parents’ account. The miles you earn as an authorized user will go to your parents’ account, but it’s still helping to grow your family’s miles and points balance.
Another thing you can do is take advantage of online shopping portals. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically where you click on a website link through the airlines website and you earn miles for it. All you have to do is go to the shopping portal website instead of going to the retailer’s website directly. The best part of this is that the miles you earn from shopping portals can go into your own account instead of your parents’.
Booking With Partners
You can also earn miles by booking your hotel or rental car through the airlines’ website. Many airlines and hotel chains partner with other travel companies. You can earn extra points by booking your travel through partners.
No, I’m not talking about swimming. Family pooling means that some airlines allow families to share their miles and points with each other. Some examples of loyalty programs that offer family pooling are:
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways Avios
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Frontier Airlines
- Hilton Honors
- IHG One Rewards
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- World of Hyatt
Family pooling is a lot more common among hotel programs, but recently, there are more and more airlines that offer it. So, if one of your parents does a lot of traveling for work, you might be able to take advantage of their points.
When It Might Be Better To Have Your Parents Earn Points Instead
It’s good to try and earn your own points and miles. But, it might make more sense to have one person have all the points instead of having a few hundred points in several different accounts. If they’re all in different accounts, that might be a hassle when you’re trying to book something.
If everyone in your family only has a few miles or points in their account, you might not be able to book any kind of award. That’s why family pooling is such a good option because it makes it easier to get enough points to book an award.
As you get older, you might want to take more control over your points and miles and that’s a great idea. You can be in charge of your own account and use your own points and miles. When you’re older and earn more money and have more freedom, it might be easier to earn more miles and points on your own.
The Bottom Line
As I get older, I’m excited to be able to travel by myself and use my own points and miles. But for now, I’m very grateful that there are opportunities for teenagers to be able to earn points and miles.
It’s also great that you usually don’t have to worry about your points and miles expiring. It’s exciting to share miles and points with my family and travel with them while still earning my own points and miles for when I’m older.
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