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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 2021)

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

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

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

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:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard 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. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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.

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

Comments (90)

  • Andrew Wells says:

    I lost a parent and a sibling to it. Please excuse my lack of humour on the topic, but using it for a cheap and unnecessary joke just doesn’t sit well.

    If Rob genuinely believes this is acceptable on reflection, then I’m afraid I disagree with that judgement as it is in very poor taste.

    • Ac says:

      By that rationale no one can ever make a joke about death from cancer, obesity, smoking, thunder bolts, being eaten by a shark, etc etc because someone somewhere lost someone that way?

      • Andrew Wells says:

        Of course there is scope for jokes about death in this world, however COVID jokes whilst people are still dying from it is still a bit raw.

        Squirrel – I understand your views and indeed, different strokes for different folks, for me it is an unnecessary joke, because it isn’t needed and it isn’t actually funny. Presumably why Rob runs a travel blog and isn’t (as far as I am aware) doing stand up.

        Anyway, will leave everyone to it as I’ve been a reader here for years for travel stuff. Will leave the commenting to others.

        • Joe says:

          So people are still not dying of anything else? Relative to most other common causes of death, covid is hardly killing anyone in the UK right now.

        • BJ says:

          @Andrew, I regret that our joking is upsetting for you and apologise for any hurt that mine personally has caused. However, I hope you don’t equate this joking with a lack of empathy for your loss because I don’t feel that this is the case. The loss, suffering and fear resulting from the pandemic has been undeniably enormous and heartbreaking. I think most people feel that but people just have to find their own ways of dealing with both the risks and the consequences, and these are going to vary a lot.

        • Bagoly says:

          @Andrew – I would have just said, different people have different views.
          I regard humour as good, and am happy to be splashed as a bystander, or playfully targeted.

          But “Presumably Rob.. isn’t doing stand up” is an insult.
          It’s an absolutely minor one, about which I’m sure Rob laughs, and I wouldn’t want it to be considered unacceptable.
          But his joke didn’t even include anything insulting anyone.
          So I suggest you take some time to reflect on your hypocrisy.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Sorry for your loss. I’ve lost family to various horrible diseases and you can crack all the jokes you want about them – it’s a way of saying “F you” to that disease. The standard phrase here is “just because you are offended does not mean you are right”. Gallows humour is an essential coping strategy for many; indeed they may be offended by an attempt to ban or curtail it, so don’t consider your view as a right and righteous path here that doesn’t cause offence. If you are offended by this VERY mild joke then never spend time with staff in care homes, hospitals or undertakers. Their humour is x1000 closer to the bone; just as it needs to be…

      • Chris Heyes says:

        The Savage Squirrel I agree God killed my relatives’ a long while ago I only managed to survive due to Norh allowing me into his canoe
        I had to endure a load of smelly Elephants for ages n ages

      • Number9 says:

        Will said squirrel, after being my Mums full time Carer for years, plus my Dads , and husband and working in hospitals and residential homes and privately caring my sense of humour is about as dark as it gets. Hence why most of my comments get deleted on this site lol

      • Zoe P says:

        A Ricky Gervais classic quote.

  • SydneySwan says:

    It is unconscionable behaviour for BA just to extinguish your points upon death especially if you have actually bought them. Curry’s don’t come and reclaim your TV or laptop if you die – it forms part of your estate. So should BA points / avios.

    • Anna says:

      The problem is, when you buy them you also (should) know that they still belong to BA according to their Ts and Cs. It would be interesting to know if this has ever been formally challenged, but it might be difficult if you are required to agree to abide by the Ts & Cs during the purchase (I can’t remember as I haven’t needed to buy any for ages, of course).

      • meta says:

        It’s inevitable that things will soon be challenged. Actually the Miles&More case is just the start. The clause in T&Cs about Avios/miles being airline’s property comes from a different era of loyalty programmes. Now that you can buy them or collect them by spending, when airlines move to revenu based redemptions, miles have started having a real monetary value. Only time will tell.

    • BJ says:

      It’s in the T&C we agreed with to join. At the end of the day there is various avenues to avoid pitfalls and besides good practice has always been to earn and burn and that will continue to be the case.

      • Number9 says:

        I’ve put my son on my BA account as proxy and told him exactly what to do.

      • Julian says:

        This can be challenged under the Unfair Terms In Consumer Contract Regulations as BA perfectly well knows. Hence why they do distribute the Avios to any legitimate executors who approach them with a Grant of Probate nominating the beneficiaries to transfer the Avios to.

    • Doug M says:

      I’m far more offended by the idea of buying Avios than I am with Covid death jokes.

  • Freddy says:

    Rob, your joke is soooo year 2020. The main leading cause of death at the moment is heart disease and dementia. Maybe have a joke about those next time!

    • Number9 says:

      My Mum died of dementia you can make as many jokes as you like won’t bother me or her. If you’re that sensitive don’t read an article with death, dying or dead in it.

      • Freddy says:

        Who said I was sensitive, just pointing out the inaccuracy of this joke. Just hope he doesn’t trot it out in a few years time. The youngsters won’t know what he’s on about

  • QwertyKnowsBest says:

    I wonder with the opening lines to this article if Rob thought, let’s stir em up and brighten my Monday watching them battle it out in the comments?

    • Freddy says:

      Rob loves loadsa comments to get advertisers to hand over loads of money. Little do they know, it’s the same 5 keyboard warriors battling it out over the entire day rather than 10000 unique contributors

      • Number9 says:

        But to be fair Freddy those same 5 people ( whoever you think they are) are the same ones who answer the same questions repeated daily by people who either can’t use the search button or are to lazy.

      • Barraclough says:

        Five or so keyboard warriors do seem to dominate the HfP chat blog BUT there knowledge, experience and most of their opinion, and occasional disagreements, is why many of us read the blog avidly, returning to it day after day. A grateful thank you.

        Having said that, some regulars do want to exclude topics which irritate them (e.g. Solihull, Che, Beardy, or requests which a cursory search would have revealed) but thousands of others reading the blog don’t live and breathe it’s every word, know how to do a search, or are aware of the expected etiquette! Live and let live!

      • Julian says:

        Its not 5 regular contributors in the Comments section of this website but at least 55 and anyway the advertisers only care about the readerships of the articles written by Rob and colleagues and not about the Comments made in response to them.

        • Rob says:

          If you look on the advertising page of HfP you’ll see we show the number of unique visitors alongside page views.

    • meta says:

      This article is just a re-hash of an article from Jan/Feb 2020!

      • meta says:

        And it had the same joke at the beginning.

      • Barraclough says:

        Yes, and I do remember the article but many readers may have forgotten it or be new to HfP.

      • John says:

        Someone asked for it in the comments yesterday or recently

        But their question was about Amex MR (forgot if anyone answered)

        • xcalx says:

          I posted the question on Saturday and it was mainly about Amex with the last sentence referring to BA amex points and no I had no replies re the Amex question. Mrs xcalx is ringing Amex this afternoon as she was a supplementary card holder on the account.

          We also want to find out how Amex knew about the death as we had only informed the dot gov site to stop her pension payments. Her bank 1st Direct also contacted us and explained that the DWP had informed them of the death. So it could be some sort of financial institute data sharing scheme.

          • xcalx says:

            *BA Avois points

          • Number9 says:

            I transferred all my Mums points out of Amex/Hilton before I told anyone official. Not that she knew she had any points anyway.

          • xcalx says:

            Thats what we planned to do at a later date, then the letter from Amex informed us the account was closed due to the death of the account holder. We didn’t inform them.

          • Nick says:

            The vast majority of people want not to have to call every single company when a close family member dies, so industry (fully supported by govt) has got together to find a solution that means they don’t have to. In the grand scheme of things, upsetting a tiny number of HfPers is unlikely to make them think again. Plenty online about how much people (and bereavement charities) value what’s been done, for those upset then maybe google a few articles and see how the ‘real world’ thinks.

  • SteveJ says:

    Housekeeping question.

    Back in the good old days I would use transfer my Avios to clear points out of certain household members accounts (to avios.com) so that when I made a booking I could wipe out certain accounts.

    Is there a modern day version of this? I haven’t opened Iberia accounts for all players as an example, would that work of they have no IB earned points?

    • P4D says:

      The same, open an Aer Lingus Aer Club account, log into avios and transfer.
      You cannot directly transfer Iberia from BAEC when you have a
      Household account so would need to go through an Aer Club avios account anyway

  • JW says:

    Makes me wonder — HMRC seems to generally say air miles and similar points aren’t taxable for income tax purposes, but it seems there are some circumstances where they could be taxed (EIM21618). So how do they view it from the context of inheritance tax? Would points have a taxable value they’d weigh against the nil tax threshold (and if so how would they value them?) It would be surprising if dumping your wealth into buying points an extremely niche IHT avoidance strategy

  • Dominic says:

    I get the feeling some people here are a little too sensitive.

  • Froggee says:

    When my dad passed away I was sad. But I made sure the lawyer contacted BA who, without issue, transferred his Avios to my mum. I wouldn’t have thought of this if it had not been for Rob’s prior article. One thing I have learned is there is no good way to go (at least not for all parties involved!) We found gallows’ humour helped us as a family at the time but everyone is different. There is nothing offensive in this article but I can certainly see people being triggered by it. One of the joys for Rob is he takes a view on what is reasonable and goes with it and I think his judgment is pretty sound.

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