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What happens to your Avios points when you die?

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Yes, a cheery subject for a Friday but with coronavirus on the loose …… (JOKE!)

More seriously, this is a topic that rarely comes up but does impact quite a few people, especially those who were hoarding Avios during their career to spend during retirement.

I focused on this a few years years ago.  I had been contacted by a reader whose father had passed away.  Both father and son had been in the same British Airways Household Account and the son had assumed that his late fathers Avios points would pass to him as head of the Household Account.  He was surprised to discover that this is not the case.

To be fair to British Airways, the rules of the Executive Club have always been clear on this point.   Clause 3.12.2 states:

upon the death of a Member, Avios Points, Tier Points and Lifetime Tier Points accumulated but unused at the time of death shall be cancelled.

BA Gold

Not all airlines have such a policy.  American Airlines, for example, will consider (and usually grants) transfers where the miles are specifically earmarked in a will.

The obvious way around this is the slightly dubious one of logging into the account of the deceased person and redeeming their Avios points for a flight for yourself.  British Airways does not insist that the credit card used to pay for a redemption is in the same name as the account holder so that would not be an issue.

Whilst this is technically against the rules, I would not personally chastise anyone who acted this way.

After my original piece three years ago, however, I was contacted by a solicitor who is also a ‘miles and points’ enthusiast.  He had dealt with a number of estates where the deceased had an Avios balance as one of their ‘assets’.

In each case, he had written to British Airways Executive Club with a copy of the Grant of Probate.  He advised BAEC that one of the residiuary beneficiaries had their own BA account and included the details.  Without fail, BA has agreed to transfer the Avios and tier points.

It appears that, when approached formally by a solicitor with the correct documentation, BA is willing to bend their published rules.

On a similar note …… you may want to consider making sure that other people can access your mileage account should anything happen to you.  If you have 1 million Avios in your account then, at a 1p valuation, you are looking at over £10,000 of value.  Not peanuts by any means and certainly not something you would want British Airways to wipe out on a whim.

PS.  If you missed it, take a look at our recent article on the top 10 reasons to get the free British Airways American Express credit card.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comments (72)

  • Evan says:

    There’s more to life than avios really though. They would be the last thing on my mind if a close relative or partner died. Didn’t even enter my mind when I was an executor. How important is a flight of any description at the end of the day? In the same vein critics of Rob’s humour also need to get a life….

    • Spurs Debs says:

      I’d be furious if my Son didn’t spend my points once I’ve gone. We went to a family funeral yesterday and after I told him exactly where my will was, where my passcodes were,what to do with family trust etc etc.
      And how to use my/ our points I currently have a balance of 500k points which have taken some doing to acquire, I would not be amused if they got wasted.
      A hunting would be forthcoming!

    • Spiral says:

      FWIW, the day my dad died I took out an BAPP – so I could put the funeral on it and get some Avios from the sign-up bonus. I also spent his Avios, along with a good chunk of mine, on two flights for later that year.

      The reason? I’d made a pact with a friend that the first year after my dad died, we’d both fly somewhere new that Christmas – as otherwise it’d have been unbearable (I live on my own and was grateful for my friend’s willingness to go on holiday with me). My dad was really pleased that I had these plans, too, and fully approved of them.

      I was very grateful that in his last couple of weeks, my dad left full lists of all his accounts and so on. I had access to his email, so was able to go in and check balances etc on the fateful day, which made getting probate much less of a hassle. Truth be told, keeping busy helped steer me away from depressive thoughts too.

      (In my dad’s case, it was lung cancer. We both knew he only had two months or so left, so made the absolute most of it. He is, of course, sadly missed by me.)

    • Pierre says:

      Well, we can also steer the conversation towards loyalty points in general, and the way other people see it.
      I lost my Mom a couple of weeks ago. In all her life she had always been savvy and got loyalty cards for most of the department stores and travel schemes she was using. Saw that as a loyalty bonus for all the shopping she had to do for her 4 kids with massive stomachs! 🙂
      When she passed away, it seemed normal to us to use whatever she accumulated over as a way to honor her way of life.

  • Colin JE says:

    This sounds like a good case for household accounts, but if it’s the head of the household who dies it could be harder to spend the Avios or at least make changes. I set up a household account but somehow or other BA Exec Club changed it to be my wife who was the head (IT error?). To add members to family and friends my wife has to come to the phone to authorise it.
    But on spending, I assume you could just carry on spending the Avios if anyone in your household account has died and their Avios will be used pro-rata. If your accounts are empty then it’ll be their Avios used in entirety. Why risk telling BA they’ve died if you risk losing the lot?
    Surely, it would be better for BA to formalise the transfer of Avios, and maybe even tier points, on death in their rules and reap some positive PR, as AA has.

    • Spurs Debs says:

      I’m head of our household account. Told my Son don’t tell them just spend them. Here’s my login details.

      • Polly says:

        That’s what we have done with our daughters..spend them all, say nothing.

        • Mikeact says:

          My eldest son has all my details of every program I have, all up in the Cloud…together with do’s and dont’s…hints and tips and certain contact details. Also, blog subscriptions, to keep up to date.
          He will also take over my grandfather Tesco card, and wrongly maybe, continue to use a couple of valuable credit cards.
          I know I can trust him to share fairly with his brother and sister.

    • Nick_C says:

      “I assume you could just carry on spending the Avios if anyone in your household account has died and their Avios will be used pro-rata. If your accounts are empty then it’ll be their Avios used in entirety.”

      Absolutely. And to ensure you used up the dead person’s Avios first, move everyone else’s out to Aer Club.

      Oh and if anyone on here is feeling feverish and has a reward flight booked, please ask your next of kin to come on here post mortem and tells us once they have cancelled your flights, in case they go back in the pool.

      To quote the late great Bob Monkhouse; when I die I hope to go quietly in my sleep like my dad. Not screaming and terrified like his passengers.

  • BlueHorizonuk says:

    Surely BA only know someone has passed away if they get told?

    But who would tell them?

    If they are part of a household account or you know their login details then surely you can just spend them until account reaches zero with BA being none the wiser.

    • Lady London says:

      Not even sure BA would even be bothered to run a job to see which of the Executive Club members are now 130 years old.

    • James says:

      My father only had a few avios points left when he died. BA havent been told of his death yet and are still emailing him. The avios went on wine not flights..

  • Matthew says:

    Whilst we are in Household accounts. Does anyone know what will happen in this scenario:-

    My account 30,000 Avios. Wife’s 50,000 so household 80,000. Redeem for 4 flights @ 20,000 each. Close Household account 6 months later. A week after that, cancel all flights. As household account no longer active, where do the Avios go? All to old head of household or 30,000 back to me and 50,000 back to my wife?

    Many thanks!

    • Rhys says:

      Whilst I can’t say for certain, I assume they would go back to individual accounts as Avios are held individually. Household accounts just let you link existing accounts together.

      • Matthew says:

        OK thanks Rhys. Thought they might but wasn’t sure how it would work when no household account existed anymore….

        • Shoestring says:

          under 18s lose all their Avios when a HHA is closed, so be careful on this point/ otherwise the Head of Household A/c just removes members of the HHA & they keep the Avios remaining under their name

          • Genghis says:

            Wasn’t this only the case under the old avios.com HHA, not a BAEC HHA?

            Cancelling flights after disbanding a BAEC HHA would refund avios from whence they initially came.

    • Peter K says:

      I had this exact issue last year. Booked flights, removed a couple of people. A few months later needed to cancel the flight and the exact amount taken returned to each account.

    • Matthew says:

      OK thanks for the info everyone.

  • Chris says:

    Last year BA transferred my late father’s points. I wrote a short but friendly message saying how much he’d enjoyed travelling with them and that I, as executor, wanted to transfer the points as part of the rest and residue of the estate. I may have included a copy of the will and probate. It was all processed within a few days.

    • Chris says:

      …I meant to add both Tesco and Nectar did the same within a day. It wasn’t a major effort, so subject to the value of the account and the time you have spare, it is worth doing.

  • Spiral says:

    In my case, my dad died (head of household). He had something like 40,000 Avios compared to my 300,000 ish.

    I used them up by moving some of mine to an Iberia Avios account, then using the balance (his plus mine) for a redemption. I then moved mine back again to my BA account.

  • BJ says:

    Late to ‘the party’ on this one but I will add a few points.
    @Dominic, stay well.
    @Spiral, found your comments uplifting and positive. FWIW, I prepaid a funeral plan to trigger my last Lloyds voucher. I told the funeral director and we had a good laugh about it. She said it was nothing compared to some of the requests for arrangements she had received over the years.
    @Various, I too furnished my partner with a full list of accounts data. I also provided him with electronic letters he only needs to sign and date in an effort to recover as many of my points and miles as possible.
    @Everybody, don’t forget that BA allows the nomination of third party nominees to manage accounts. The place to to do is under the account management options to the left of your account home page.

  • Gillian Adderley says:

    Do companion vouchers disappear too or can they be transferred within the household account?