Americans who keep large balances of unused American Express Membership Rewards points, or airline or hotel points, are not all that different from those who choose to buy gold or Bitcoins. They are choosing to store value in something other than U.S. dollars.
And while you're considering whether your frequent flier miles or hotel loyalty points are income, consider this list of items considered income according to IRS Publication 525:
- Found property. If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession.
- Whistleblower's award. If you receive a whistleblower's award from the Internal Revenue Service, you must include it in your income.
Just so you know.