Rule number one of credit card points is that they’re not transferable*. If John Tan has 100,000 Citi Miles on his Citibank Premiermiles card, he can’t transfer those to the account of his brother Jack Tan. John Tan’s Citi Miles can only be transferred to John Tan’s frequent flyer account, and both banks and FFPs do regular audits to ensure this rule is adhered to. Anyone who transfers points to an FFP that isn’t their own risks having the points confiscated and the account shut down.
*exception; OCBC allows you to transfer OCBC$ to another cardholder at a cost of OCBC$2,300 (920 miles) per transfer
This then raises the question- if John’s the one who’s always flying and spending, how can he share some of the good life with Jack? One option is that Jack could apply for a supplementary card for John, so the points that John accrues from spending become the property of Jack, who can then transfer them to his FFP (remember- points accrued on supplementary cards are the property of the principal cardholder).
But suppose Jack is a deadbeat. Or a retiree. Or a minor. Or doesn’t qualify for a card for whatever litany of reasons. What then?
Redeeming award tickets for someone else
Although you can’t transfer credit card points to someone else’s account, most FFPs allow you to redeem award tickets on behalf of someone else.
Some programs are super liberal about this. For example, Avianca LifeMiles and Alaska Mileage Plan, allow you to redeem an award ticket for anyone you please. You could enter “Queen of England” at the personal details page and the system wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Other programs are slightly more restricted- they use a nominee system, which allows you to redeem award tickets for a limited number of people. KrisFlyer is one such program.
Breaking down the KrisFlyer award nominee system
KrisFlyer allows you to nominate up to 5 individuals as nominees for awards.
Here’s the ground rules of the KrisFlyer nominee system:
- Child or infant nominees are treated the same as an adult (i.e. they take up 1 of your 5 slots)
- There’s no fee for adding new nominees
- However, there is a fee to replace or delete existing nominees, and once a nominee is added he/she can only be replaced or deleted after 6 months
Why does (3) exist? The biggest worry that KrisFlyer has is creating a resale market for award tickets. You know those “cheap first and business class” Google Ads you see on some sites? Those websites are run by award brokers, who acquire miles cheaply en masse through various schemes and flip them to consumers in the form of discounted premium cabin tickets.
What KrisFlyer doesn’t want is people adding and deleting award nominees at will, then going on Carousell and offering discounted tickets for sale. To discourage this, KrisFlyer imposes both a lock-in period for new nominees plus a fee to change them. That said, it’s pretty easy to create new KrisFlyer accounts, so I have my doubts as to what extent this measure really discourages the creation of a resale market.
Here are the service fees involved for changing redemption nominees:
Adding a nominee
Adding a nominee is a fairly straightforward process. Login to your KrisFlyer account. Look for “Profile” at the top.
This opens up a second layer of tabs. Click on “Redemption Nominees”
Click on “Add Nominee”
Fill out the details of the person you’d like to nominate.
There’s an interesting field at the bottom which asks what your relationship to this nominee is. There’s no reason to be concerned- KrisFlyer clearly states you can redeem miles for friends and family, so you can nominate pretty much anyone. This field is probably as much for demographic information as anything else.
The award nominee feature is something that represents a high risk for fraud, because it allows someone to quickly empty out your account on award tickets for other people. When KrisFlyer implements its new OTP system you can bet that the addition of new nominees will require an OTP.
What is an authorised nominee?
There’s another field labelled “authorised nominee” that prompts you to check “yes” or “no”
This is how the KrisFlyer T&C describes an authorised nominee:
The nominees you have authorised will be able to make and change bookings for themselves and on your behalf after necessary verification. If they have been so verified, Singapore Airlines will not inform the principal member nor be held liable for issuing redemption tickets to the authorised nominees.
This needs some explaining. It doesn’t mean that your nominee gets a login of their own that allows them to access your KrisFlyer account. What it does mean is that if you book a ticket on behalf of someone else, that person can make changes at will on their own.
I must admit I’m slightly confused about the ability of nominees to “make bookings” – in my experience, being added as a redemption nominee to someone else’s account didn’t in any way let me access their miles through my own KrisFlyer account. The only way would be for that person to give their login details to me.
What can you redeem for award nominees?
Once someone’s been added as your award nominee ,you can redeem any sort of award ticket for him/her. Singapore Airlines, Silk Air, Star Alliance, Vistara, Virgin Australia etc etc… so long as it’s a KrisFlyer partner airline, you can make the redemption. You’ll see the option to add their name to the ticket at the booking screen.
KrisFlyer members can also use their miles to pay for part or all of the airfares of any of their five redemption nominees. This values your miles at ~1 cent each, and I really wouldn’t go for this option, unless you were desperate.
One last point that may be relevant to some of you. If you have a child who is old enough to have a KrisFlyer account but not old enough to travel unaccompanied (under 12 years old), you won’t be able to redeem the child’s miles unless there’s a redemption nominee of 18 years old or above travelling with him/her on the same flight.
And that’s the nominee system! Topics like this and more will be covered in our Miles for Beginner course, a structured, easy-to-understand intro course to the world of miles and points! Tickets are now available.