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When it comes to using credit card rewards points, you know that every point matters. From airline tickets to hotel stays, maximizing your rewards points is a great way to save on travel. This is where the little known secret of points pooling can really come in handy. If you travel with a big family or if you have multiple rewards programs, point pooling can help you use points for those big-ticket travel items. Here’s a quick guide to points pooling and how to get the most out of your rewards programs.

What is credit card pooling?

Credit card point pooling is where you combine your rewards points from one credit card with another card or with another reward program. Let’s say you and your partner both have a credit card that accrues credit card reward points. Depending on your loyalty program, you may be able to pool your points together for a bigger point balance. The policies on point pooling vary significantly depending on the cards you have so if you’re interested in pooling, it’s important to look at the policy before you open up a card. Some credit cards offer a generous, family-friendly point pooling policy where you can really maximize the freebies. With other cards, although it may seem like you’re able to pull points together, in doing so you may pay so much on the transfer that it might not be worth it in the end.

Here are a couple of things to address when opening a new credit card if you’re looking to pool points with a partner or on your own through other rewards programs.

1. Is pooling or transferring points allowed?

2. Are there any costs associated with pooling or with the programs themselves?

3. Are you allowed to combine points with other people?

How to pool credit card points

If you’re looking to pool credit card points with other people in your family, one of the quickest ways to accumulate points is through a referral bonus. The ideal scenario here is you open a credit card with a big point incentive upon opening the card. You’ve already done your homework and they have generous point sharing terms so you go ahead and have your partner open an additional card. The ultimate win here is if there is also a referral bonus. In this case, right off the bat, you accrue points for opening your card, plus additional points for referring your partner. Now your partner also gets a nice chunk of points for opening their card.

Without even spending a dime, you and your partner already have a good amount of points to pool together just by opening your cards. This can be really helpful whether your partner is your spouse or just a travel buddy. If you and a friend are planning a big trip next year, for example, this strategy can work for you as well. You just want to make sure the card you’re signing up for has points that can be transferred without any fees or penalties. You also don’t want to waste combing your points for things like shopping or gift cards. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you use your points on travel. Bigger ticket items like airline tickets and hotel stays are really where you’ll get the most value out of your rewards points.

The best programs for pooling points

When it comes to pooling your points for travel, not all cards and rewards programs are created equal. Some of the best programs for transferring points are Chase, Capital One, Citibank, and American Express. Each of these credit card companies has one or more cards that make it easy and inexpensive to transfer points. In terms of hotel points, Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton are among the hotel groups that actually make the process pretty painless and inexpensive when it comes to pooling and transferring points. In addition to your credit card points and hotel rewards, airline miles may also be able to be transferred depending on the airline. Whichever route you go, check the fine print and do your homework. If done correctly, points pooling can be a great way to maximize your rewards programs. Happy travels.