Points of View: Can I earn the miles if I buy someone a ticket?

Maybe you owe someone. Or, maybe you’re just that good.

Whatever the reason, you’re buying a plane ticket for someone else (hopefully on a profitable credit card). Can you earn miles on that flight? It’s your money after all.

Here are the points and miles you can earn as a ticket person — and those you won’t, no matter how much you wanted to.

Related: The best travel credit cards of 2023

Passenger or payer: Who earns miles on these flights?

Most airline loyalty programs have multiple ways to earn miles. It could be from renting a car with a partner, shopping in the airline’s duty-free magazine or using one of the airline’s credit cards. But what about flights—and specifically, what about flights you pay for but other people fly?

For simplicity, we’ll be referring to two individuals in this scenario: the passenger (the person flying) and the payer (who pays for the ticket with points, miles, or cash). Let’s see who gets the miles from the flight.


Frequent flyer programs require the name on the ticket to match the name on the frequent flyer account; otherwise, no miles or flight credits will be awarded. This can prove tricky for those who have recently changed their name or even those with a hyphenated last name (as not all computer systems accept it).

For example, Qantas has the following in its help center:

“Does the name on my Frequent Flyer account have to be the same as the name on my flight ticket?

Yes. Qantas and our partner airlines require name validation before crediting Qantas Points to Frequent Flyer accounts. If the name on your flight ticket matches the name on your Frequent Flyer account, points will be credited automatically. If there is a discrepancy between the name on your Frequent Flyer account and the name used on your airline ticket, you may not receive Qantas Points and Status Credits through the automated process.”

So, the name on the frequent flyer account and the name on the ticket must match exactly. You cannot enter your loyalty number on someone else’s ticket to receive miles for flights on which you were not a passenger.

Even if you pay for a ticket, only passengers earn miles from the flight. This applies to parents paying for flights for their children as well. That’s why kids need their own frequent flyer account.

How can you earn rewards when you pay for other people’s flights?

While passengers earn miles for flying, payers can earn points and miles in other ways.

First, you can make money with your credit card. By using a travel rewards credit card where “flights” or “travel” is the bonus category, you can earn bonus miles or bonus points for every dollar spent on tickets. This also applies to paying only taxes and fees on award flights booked with miles.

Related: Make the most of your airfare: The best credit cards to book flights

Second, if you pay for your ticket online, you may be able to use a shopping portal to earn extra points, miles, or cash back. While most airlines don’t partner with these sites, many online travel agencies do. Be aware of the potential pitfalls of booking with a third party site as opposed to going directly to the airline.

Finally, the payer and passenger may be able to combine their miles after the flight. Many airlines allow loyalty members to accumulate points, although the rules for each program differ.

Depending on which airline the passenger is flying and which loyalty program is credited to the flight, the passenger may be able to earn miles for the flight and then transfer them to the payer. However, there may be a fee for this, so check the program rules first.

Related: Can I transfer points and miles between loyalty programs?

The main thing is

While you may feel entitled to airline miles earned when you pay for someone else’s ticket, only passengers can earn miles from flying. The frequent flyer program will not award miles if the passenger’s name does not match the name on the loyalty account provided at check-in.

However, there are ways to earn miles when paying for other people’s tickets. It comes from using proper credit cards, stacking with shopping portals and potentially sharing miles through accumulating points after the fact.

Editor’s note: “Points of View” is a series of credit card decision assessments that will be used. If you’re facing a dilemma about which card is best for future payments, email us at [email protected] with the subject line: “Viewpoint Questions”.

Also in this series:

Check Also

Amex Green Card LoungeBuddy Credit: How It Works

In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone who is …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *