Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > MilesBuzz
Reload this Page >

Legal question regarding miles

Legal question regarding miles

Old Dec 25, 11, 9:33 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 182
Legal question regarding miles

Firstly Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone on FT!

I had a question regarding my Uncle's miles. He is retired, very old and has millions and millions of miles in several programs. However he has no intent of ever using these miles to travel as he is too old. In this case he would love to sell his miles for some extra cash but that would be considered illegal (I think). Is it possible he can use these miles for the travel of family and friends and then charge them a fee for using his miles? Not sure if a lawyer's the only one who can advise in such a situation.

Thanks.
i_gtgo is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 9:49 am
  #2  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 47,841
The programs prohibit the sale of miles, but if your uncle wants to suggest to friends and relatives that a cash gift would be welcome in appreciation for the mileage awards, that would work. The key is for the recipient to be trustworthy and understand that the gift is very strongly suggested.
dhuey is online now  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:02 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Back to London...... bye Florida
Programs: Hilton, AA,, Delta
Posts: 5,051
Are you sure he has "millions and millions of miles"? All programs have expiration dates on their miles. If he is very old and has not had activity in his accounts there is a good chance he has lost most of his miles.

You may want to check the accounts to see if there really are any miles left.
MoreMilesPlease is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:22 am
  #4  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: GVA (Greater Vancouver Area)
Programs: DREAD Gold; UA 1.021MM; Bonvoy Au-197; PCC Elite+; CWC Au-197; CCC Elite*; WoH Dis
Posts: 49,990
Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
if your uncle wants to suggest to friends and relatives that a cash gift would be welcome in appreciation for the mileage awards, that would work.
Sorry, that's still selling as far as the airlines (and the law) are concerned. Tickets can be booked, but there must be no request, expectation, or even suggestion of any remuneration.
mahasamatman is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:28 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Programs: SPG GOLD
Posts: 215
Isn't there a way to convert miles to cash or gift cards? Either through the program itself or a third party?
sunk818 is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:31 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 404
If the program allows redemption for gift cards or merchandise, he could redeem them and sell the gift card or the merchandise.

Last edited by Ragnarok; Dec 25, 11 at 10:39 am
Ragnarok is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:32 am
  #7  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 1,677
So simply do a cash gift + some item = similar to scalping tickets for a show. Cash plus a bag of potato chips...or a vase...or a coffee cup. I have heard this is a way around it.

Now mind you, I am not a lawyer and this should not be construed as legal advice. Especially from a man named "Baloney."
BillyBaloney is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:36 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 182
Moremilesplease - I know those accounts are active as he has credit cards from the airlines he's accrued those miles on.

I did a quick search and found that there are various websites which will buy your miles for a penny or so per mile. They say that selling miles isn't illegal except in Utah. Not sure how they are buying miles when the airlines themselves frown at such activity.
i_gtgo is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:49 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Austin
Programs: AA P4L, WN, BA, DL, UA, HHonors, IHG
Posts: 3,422
Originally Posted by i_gtgo View Post
Moremilesplease - I know those accounts are active as he has credit cards from the airlines he's accrued those miles on.
I'm not sure that merely having a credit card actually protects the miles in a frequent-flyer account, although making an occasional purchase on the card normally would.

I did a quick search and found that there are various websites which will buy your miles for a penny or so per mile. They say that selling miles isn't illegal except in Utah. Not sure how they are buying miles when the airlines themselves frown at such activity.
There is a difference between "not permitted" (by the airline) and "illegal" (against the law).

I don't know how reputable any of the mile buying and selling websites are. If things go wrong, your elderly relative might lose all his miles.
Middle_Seat is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 10:51 am
  #10  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 47,841
Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Sorry, that's still selling as far as the airlines (and the law) are concerned. Tickets can be booked, but there must be no request, expectation, or even suggestion of any remuneration.
I disagree as far as the law is concerned. There is a huge legal difference between giving someone something of value while suggesting a gift in return, as compared to conveying something of value in exchange for a promise from the recipient to pay cash for it. In the former case, the donor is SOL if the recipient chooses to pay nothing. In the latter case, there is an enforceable contract (one that violates program rules). As a practical matter, the airlines will have no idea what the uncle and nephew might have said to each other.

I also wonder about these millions of miles from an uncle who is too old to travel. I'd quickly check these balances and make sure there is current activity to prevent expiration.
dhuey is online now  
Old Dec 25, 11, 11:00 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: NY
Programs: The local deli gives me 1 free sandwich after I buy 10
Posts: 4,023
Why sell the miles? I am sure he could travel to Hawaii in business class. I've see plenty of older folks traveling. You're never too old.
He can use those millions of miles and take everybody in the family to Hawaii in business. That would be more memorable than selling them.
Clincher is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 11:00 am
  #12  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 47,841
Originally Posted by Middle_Seat View Post

There is a difference between "not permitted" (by the airline) and "illegal" (against the law).

I don't know how reputable any of the mile buying and selling websites are. If things go wrong, your elderly relative might lose all his miles.
Yes, illegal is a vague term that can be used narrowly to mean criminal. Unlawful is normally used to mean in violation of a contractual or civil duty, and that describes the sale of miles.
dhuey is online now  
Old Dec 25, 11, 11:06 am
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 182
Thank you all for your valuable input.

I know the miles are good/active because he's been very keen on preserving them through credit card activity. He used to travel a lot and may have saved them for a rainy day but now sees no value in it for himself.

Gift cards will earn him around 1 cent a mile and I don't view that as a great deal. But I'm sure there are people who value it a lot more than that and would pay him for it.
i_gtgo is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 11:08 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4,840
NEVER EVER USE a company or broker that buys miles. You not only can or will loose the miles you sold but the everything in your uncles account.

You can find many news articles, flyertalk post on airlines like American, United, etc closing freq flyer accounts, brokers not paying customer, etc.

You even have true cases where miles have been transfered to relative and and at the airport checkin the relative is denied a travel and accused of getting their ticket from someone who sold their freq flyer miles.

BE VERY VERY CAREFUL. TRUST NO ONE
Centurion is offline  
Old Dec 25, 11, 11:10 am
  #15  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Berkeley, CA USA
Programs: Piggly Wiggly "Shop the Pig!" Preferred Shopper
Posts: 47,841
Originally Posted by i_gtgo View Post
Thank you all for your valuable input.

I know the miles are good/active because he's been very keen on preserving them through credit card activity. He used to travel a lot and may have saved them for a rainy day but now sees no value in it for himself.

Gift cards will earn him around 1 cent a mile and I don't view that as a great deal. But I'm sure there are people who value it a lot more than that and would pay him for it.
If the relative using the miles is not hurting for cash, I'd suggest that a cash thank-you gift of 1.5 cents per mile used would be appropriate. That's the value I use for tax purposes when I use personal miles for business trips (another hotly debated topic around here).
dhuey is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: