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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.

  • Fiona says:

    My OH and I took out Wills last year and stipulated that our BAEC Avios were to transfer to the surviving partner.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    I think what most people tend to forget is that the main cause of death throughout the world is the “Heart Stopping”
    Now if before that happens you have issued instructions to your solicitor who you want your Avios to go to.
    BA will comply regardless of t&c “NOT” because they have to because they clearly don’t !
    But because of the Adverse Publicity it could cause if it reached the press
    It’s easier to transfer a few points to those who can be bothered to formally get a solicitor’s letter signed before they’ve departed

    • J says:

      It could also be that they aren’t keen to have it tested in court.

  • john says:

    My wife died last year. When I contacted Amex to advise them of her death, they automatically sent out M&S vouchers in the post to empty out the MR points she had. I would have preferred the points transferring to me but didn’t have a will for the fight at the time.

    With BA it seemed at the time the most prudent thing was not tell BA and use them up via the household account. However, since the Nectar tie up, I have linked my nectar account to her BA account and moved them all over to my account to make life simpler!

    • Julian says:

      A good suggestion as I hadn’t considered that option. Although as that means Avios now also have a cash value I can see fellow beneficiaries of an estate who are not Avios collectors demanding they get their cut at the Necar convert in to cash rate per Avios.

  • David S says:

    It would be great if Rob could utilise one of his Widget forms for a simple vote on this in addition to the comments. Would you take the BAEC points of a deceased family member and use them yourself? Yes, No or Don’t Know

  • Swiss Jim says:

    My mum died yesterday after a short illness. We are all understandably distraught. But life goes on. Jokes are fine. As is the general chatter around points and what people find acceptable. Let’s not all chastise each other – life I know is all too short.

  • Julian says:

    I find it disappointing Rob has not updated this article one jot the last time it was published a year or so ago.

    Anyway a real situation as my mother died some time ago and given how complicated her estate is including lots of directly held shares and a property in Spain this was one of the much lessor concerns.

    I don’t think that BA would actually require a solicitors letter as stated but only a signed letter from the executors of the estate along with a copy of the Grant of Probate indicating if one or more of the beneficiaries are Avios collectors or want to be become collectors and to which beneficiaries the executors want the Avios to be transferred to. What they don’t want to do is to transfer them to people who are not legally beneficiaries of the estate.

    Anyway some how haven’t written the probate letter so far as there were so many others to do and only 40,000 Avios involved.

    If a beneficiary who has the username and password of the account or at least access to their parents email account (from where the password can be reset) wishes to go down the unofficial direct spend by a beneficiary route a few gottyas to watch out for are that Reward Saver rates disappear after two years inactivity on the account since the last transaction on it (collection or spend) and not the date of death of the person and that the Avios are wiped out after 3 years inactivity. The best way around this is to do a survey that credits a few points to the account and turn up on the account in two or three weeks and this resets the 2 and 3 year clocks.

    Anyways there were only 40,000 Avios in my mother’s account, which is no doubt why I haven’t bothered with the “official” route. Some how though due to the negative aspect of dealing with all my mother’s affairs and its affect on my life initially followed by COVID haven’t spent all the Avios yet. Hope to soon if we can travel more normally next year without face mask on planes, social distancing and all the rest of the man trying to make himself look in control of a normal cyclical natural event he can’t control garbage.

  • C F Frost says:

    I think there should be a tie up between the Coop’s 15% off deal that’s there for you every time you write your will. Because, you know, one does that quite a lot. As well as a 15% cash bonus, could the Co corner the market by offering an uplift on Avios balances on the event of death?

    • Julian says:

      I think it would be more sensible for the Co-Op as leaders in this area to offer to produce wills for current Avios collectors that include a specific a clause nominating who the Avios should go to.

      Having said that it should be within the gift of the executors of the estate armed with a grant of probate to approach BA indicating to whom the Avios should be distributed. Involving a solicitor might wipe out the value of the Avios for an Avios holding of only a few thousand or few tens of thousands of Avios.

      • Mikeact says:

        My younger disabled brother died recently and as his only living relative told me to make sure I used up his Tesco vouchers on Gin…..job done.
        His ashes will be scattered next Sunday ,suitably remembered with gin and tonics.

  • BuildBackBetter says:

    Slightly related to the topic – any suggestions for good will writing services?

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