divorce and splitting hotel points

The Ups and Downs of Dividing Airline and Hotel Points in a Divorce~ 3 min read

I get it. Your spouse is a workaholic who has travelled for work throughout your marriage while you stayed home to raise the kids. It can be galling. Especially if their absence has contributed to the demise of your relationship.

That said, there is a silver lining to all that travel now that your marriage is wrapping up. Many people who travel for work are able to accumulate substantial airline and hotel points, even when their employer reimburses them for their travel costs. In addition, some employers permit employees to keep the miles they accrue on corporate credit cards. Airline and hotel points, as well as credit card and loyalty award points acquired during the marriage, are marital property divisible in divorce in Colorado.

Depending on the number of miles or points your spouse has managed to accumulate it may or may not be a valuable asset. The value of miles and points can vary largely based on what program they are associated with. Some programs do assign their points with cash values, but some do not. Some programs permit points to be transferred for only a nominal fee; Some programs impose transfer fees high enough to make transferring points an unattractive proposition.

If a program doesn’t assign monetary value to points it may be worth researching an approximate value online. Many airline mile values fall somewhere in the range of 1 to 1.5 cents per mile. However, to get a more accurate valuation you may have to do some research about what you can potentially purchase with the award points. You may find that redeeming the points for cash or merchandise does not provide as much value as redeeming them for an airline ticket or hotel accommodations when compared to the monetary value of merchandise versus the value of the ticket or room.

Rules for transferring points or miles to other people can vary vastly between programs as well. Some programs do not allow miles or points to be transferred or make it very difficult to do so. Many of the larger airline carriers in the US do allow you to transfer rewards but make the fees so steep that doing so wouldn’t make much sense. Some rewards programs, like Marriott, even have specific language regarding point transfers in divorce, so ultimately, though it may sound painful, you might want to read the program’s policies surrounding the transfer of points or miles.

In cases where there is substantial value in airline miles or hotel points, and the points are difficult or impossible to transfer, it may make more sense to let your spouse keep their miles while you receive a different marital asset of similar value. Alternatively, you could try to negotiate a deal regarding the miles that benefits both you and your soon to be ex, such as letting your spouse keep the airline miles as long as they agree to be responsible for arranging your children’s flights, or perhaps an agreement that your former spouse will use the points to pay for a set number of trips for you or your children upon request.

Ultimately if the points aren’t worth much, then they may not merit a fight. If they are, then you should think twice before letting your spouse walk away with thousands in airline points just because points may not be considered a significant asset in the more traditional sense.