One upside from the current upgrades to Avios functionality on ba.com – should they ever be finished – is a change to how British Airways Household Accounts work.
As of 12th November, you no longer need to live at the same address as another person to be in a BA Executive Club Household Account with them.
You can confirm this in the Executive Club terms and conditions here.
This change just tidies up a rule most people ignored
In truth, a lot of people – including myself – have always ignored this rule.
British Airways posts virtually nothing to its members via snail mail these days, especially if you have no elite status. There was therefore nothing to lose by changing the home address of family members to yours in order to add them to your household account.
I did this years ago to put my children – who otherwise couldn’t have an Executive Club account – in an account with my parents-in-law. This allowed me to keep my own account ‘free’ to give me maximum flexibility to make redemptions for whoever I needed to.
Many people, of course, preferred to stay within the letter of the rules and did not form a household account with people who they did not live this. You can now do so. (When, you know, ba.com is working properly ….)
Why would you want a British Airways Household Account?
The key benefit of a household account is that it lets you pool together points from a number of people. The main reason to do this is if you need to make a redemption which requires more miles than any one person has in their account.
There is a secondary reason too – using a household account is the only way to earn Avios when your children under 18 fly.
There are alternatives to a Household Account
Before we got into the details, remember that there are other ways of achieving the same goal:
- You can transfer miles between accounts by paying a fee. This may be easier than getting a Household Account and being tied by its restrictions.
- If you are a British Airways Executive Club Gold member, you can transfer 27,000 Avios to anyone else for free, each year. The cap is 162,000 Avios transferred out per year.
- You can book a flight for someone else directly from your Executive Club account. You don’t need to pool your miles with someone else to be able to redeem for them.
- If one person only has a small balance, remember that Avios allows one-way redemptions. One person could use their small balance to book a one-way flight and the other person book the other leg from their account.
How does a British Airways Household Account work?
You are NOT fully merging your accounts when you create a household account at ba.com.
Each member retains their individual Avios balance. When you log in, you see both your own balance and the household balance.
When you redeem ….. the points are taken PRO-RATA from the balance of each person
When you earn ….. the points go ONLY onto your personal balance
For example, if you have 9,000 Avios and your partner has 4,500, a redemption for 4,500 Avios will see 3,000 taken from you and 1,500 from your partner. It is a pro-rata split.
However, if you earn 4,500 Avios from a flight, your balance goes up to 13,500 and your partner remains at 4,500.
Following the ba.com IT changes in November 2021, Executive Club statements now show Household Account spend transactions in a clearer way. The ‘head of the household’ sees a number of transfers into their account from the other family members, and then a single outgoing transaction for the full redemption value.
How to open, close and add members to a family account
You can form a British Airways Household Account here. Each member will receive an email which includes a link to click to confirm their membership. Once the account is formed, you can also create accounts for children. The account can have a maximum of seven people in it.
As discussed above, there is no longer any obligation for all members of the Household Account to live at the same address.
You can only make one change to the Household Account every six months. I am not sure if this means that you cannot close a Household Account which is under six months old.
How does the ‘Friends & Family’ list relate to Household Accounts?
With a ba.com household account, the ‘Head of the Household’ can also add a further five people as ‘Family & Friends’. These names can be deleted and replaced once they have been on your list for six months.
The Household Account can redeem Avios for flights for these five people too but their Avios are not merged with the Household Account. (You can learn more about British Airways Executive Club ‘Family & Friends’ lists in this article.)
Redeeming Avios whilst in a family account
A British Airways Household Account lets you redeem for anyone in the Household Account OR one of the five ‘Family & Friends’ members. You cannot redeem for anyone else.
This could potentially be an issue if your ‘Family & Friends’ list is full and no-one on it has been there for six months and so is eligible for removal.
How to use ‘Combine My Avios’ with a family account
There is an odd quirk with ‘Combine My Avios’ for members of household accounts. You cannot move Avios from Iberia Plus to anyone who is in a BA Household Account.
This is not a problem, because you CAN move Avios from a programme running on the avios.com platform (Aer Lingus AerClub, Vueling Club) into a BA Household Account.
If you have Avios in Iberia Plus which you want to move your BA account, and your BA account is in a household account, this is what you need to do:
- Go to the Aer Lingus website and open an AerClub account
- Log in to avios.com using your AerClub account details
- Use the ‘Combine My Avios’ function on avios.com to pull your points from Iberia Plus into avios.com
- Do a second ‘Combine My Avios’ transaction on avios.com to push your points from avios.com to British Airways Executive Club
This HfP article explains how ‘Combine My Avios’ works in more detail, including the avios.com workaround.
Household Accounts and children
One reason to get a British Airways Household Account is that it allows children to earn Avios points and tier points when they fly.
An under-18 cannot have their own standalone British Airways Executive Club account but they CAN be invited to join a Household Account.
Can you use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher if you are in a Household Account?
Yes. The Avios you need are taken pro-rata from each member of the Household Account.
However, there is one restriction. The second traveller MUST be either in the Household Account or on the ‘Friends & Family’ list of the ‘head’ of the Household Account.
Whilst anyone can be added to a ‘Friends & Family’ list – they don’t need to share your address – you can only change this list once every six months. In certain niche scenarios this could be a problem.
Do Households Accounts stop the expiry of your Avios points?
A Household Account CAN help stop Avios expiry but not automatically.
Avios points will expire if there has been three years of no activity – ‘activity’ means either earning or spending – on the account. This is very unlikely to happen for most HfP readers.
Being in a Household Account does not automatically stop your points expiring, unless one member of the account has British Airways Executive Club elite status. In this case, all members of the account are protected.
However, because redemptions by a Household Account result in Avios being taken pro-rata from every member, this creates ‘activity’ for everyone and resets the three year clock. This means that, in reality, expiry is unlikely.
What happens if you close a Household Account?
Nothing happens to the adult members of a Household Account. Each member retains the Avios balance that it had, individually, inside the Household Account.
Any account opened for a child is closed and the Avios are lost. A few years ago, British Airways would transfer the Avios of the children to the ‘head’ of the Household Account which clearly had benefits. This no longer occurs and the Avios are lost.
The head of a Household Account can remove individual members without breaking up the entire Household Account. If you are no longer on good terms with the head of your Household Account, the Executive Club terms and conditions specifically allow you to apply to BA to be removed without the permission of the account head.
British Airways Executive Club Household Accounts are not for everyone. If you don’t like the idea, you can get much of the flexibility of a Household Account by redeeming one leg from one account and the other leg from another account.
If you are keen, though, I hope the summary above has clarified how they work.
The changes introduced in November 2021 make it easier for people who live at different addresses to be part of a Household Account without having to tell any white lies.