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What happens to your British Airways Avios points when you die?

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Yes, a cheery subject for a Monday but with coronavirus still 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.  It was brought up in our comments section on Saturday so I thought it was worth sharing again with a wider audience.

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 AccountThe 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.

What happens to your Avios points when you die?

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.

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 a few 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.

A Nectar transfer is another option

Since Avios and Nectar launched their partnership earlier this year, there is another option.

If you look at the Nectar rules here, you will see in Clause 12 that:

“{p}oints can only be transferred from a Nectar Account to another Nectar Account on death or divorce if adequate evidence of the legal division of points is given to us”

Avios can be transferred to a linked Nectar card at the rate of 50,000 Avios per month.  You may want to move the Avios of the deceased into a Nectar account and then contact Nectar to move the points across to the beneficiary of the will.

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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (90)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • James says:

    Nothing like a light hearted joke about death on a Monday morning.

    • Alex Sm says:

      Especially if it’s the same one reprised from February 2020! Word by word, just with different day of the week 🙂

  • Barraclough says:

    Continuing this gloomy Monday morning theme, at least Amex allows transfers on death – another reason perhaps not to transfer Membership Reward points to Avios until needed.
    https://www.americanexpress.com/us/help/deceased-cardmembers.html
    “{T}he Membership Rewards® points accumulated by a deceased Card Member may be reinstated to a new Basic account or redeemed by the Estate or an eligible party”.

    Nectar also allows transfers on death.
    https://www.nectar.com/about/privacy-and-legal/collector-rules
    Its Collector Rules at Clause 12 say:
    “{p}oints can only be transferred from a Nectar Account to another Nectar Account on death or divorce if adequate evidence of the legal division of points is given to us”.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    Rob. I like it, “I would not personally chastise anyone who acted this way”.
    Hmmm what would happen if you would, banned from HFPs ?
    Chastised by Rob, bet there are a lot of HFPs you’d like to chastise lol

  • BJ says:

    Nectar now creates an opportunity for good housekeeping to put our affairs in order for the only certainties in life.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      And one could always burn the last of their stash on a one way flight to Switzerland.

  • Amy says:

    I was under the impression I already could use all the points belonging to anyone in my household (as I’m head). Without having to log in as them. 😔

    • John says:

      Anyone in your BA household can use everyone’s points, not just the head. And you don’t get to choose whose points you use as it’s proportional (but you can move out your own points if you want to use everyone else’s – useful to clear out the accounts of deceased members – then move your points back).

      • Amy says:

        Thanks I didn’t realise I could move mine out then back in. So by what you’ve said why would I need to log in (as per the article) to use a deceased person’s points?

        • Rob says:

          You don’t, if you’re in a HHA, although you may want to tidy up the HHA by getting the deceased removed anyway.

  • CK says:

    For those HFP readers who may have lost loved ones due to COVID, I think the joke is fairly insensitive. But that is my opinion!

    • Chris Heyes says:

      CK and of course you are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone
      Myself who is in the queue at 74 hoping it’s a long queue
      I don’t mind a joke or two
      In fact I might read Robs article out at my funeral

    • CarpalTravel says:

      I have lost a close relative, it still made me chuckle. If I lose my sense of humour then I’ll have a lot more to worry about that an article on a website.

      • CarpalTravel says:

        *than

        I personally find the lack of an edit button more upsetting!

        • Alex Sm says:

          Yes, we need to campaign harder to make Rob finally introduce edit/delete button!

    • BJ says:

      A very personal thing but I have always found that many people use humour too help them cope with sensitive issues including death, and in my time I’ve heard everything from mild to wild and it all helps. Important to recognise people’s sensitivities but it is clear there was no intention to cause offense here.

      • Number9 says:

        Well said BJ, just asked my Mum if she’s offended she said no use my points how you want. she’s currently sitting in my lounge in a Gucci bag, she was more offended I’d left her in a crappy bag from undertakers.

        • BJ says:

          Almost always something in your comments makes me smile 🙂 I guess another name change is now imminent?

          • Number9 says:

            Yes it is BJ can’t decide might revert to my original name.

  • John says:

    Laithwaites recently ‘paid’ for the champagne for the life celebration of a family member….

  • Paul Pogba says:

    Could booking a holiday on somebody elses Avios account be considered fraud? People can occasionally get moody when wills aren’t what was expected and whoever has the BAEC password jetting off in Club World might lead to phone calls being made.

    • Anna says:

      More likely to be a breach of BA’s Ts and Cs only as long as any cash element was paid by the person booking. But yes, wills cause an awful lot of problems in families and there would be very little anyone could do if the account was drained by someone with legitimate access!

    • Julian says:

      I think it really comes down to how many Avios are in the account. If there are millions and they are all used by one beneficiary without agreement with the others or the executors then there could be an issue. And of course now due to the Nectar deal the Avios points collected by the deceased do now have a cash value. But given the typical profile of Avios collectors the value of the Avios will usually be a tiny percentage of the total estate and there is never perfect equity in distributing all the assets in an estate especially re the contents of the deceased’s home or homes. most of which will usually in any case be deemed near worthless by an official valuer.

      • Bagoly says:

        Although now that Nectar offers a route to near cash, it’s hard as an executor not to value Avios at 0.8 pence each.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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