What happens to your British Airways Avios points when you die?
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Yes, a cheery subject for the first day back at work after a Bank Holiday but ….
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. 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.
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 – and American Express cards do not have name verification anyway – so that would not be an issue.
Whilst this is technically against the rules, I would not personally chastise anyone who acted this way.
British Airways will, unofficially, transfer Avios on death
After my original piece a few years ago, 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, British Airways 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, there is another option.
If you look at the Nectar rules here, you will see in Clause 12 that:
points 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.
The Nectar points could then be moved back into Avios by the recipient, albeit with a loss due to the different transfer rates (300 Avios = 400 Nectar, 400 Nectar = 250 Avios) or spent at Sainsbury’s, Argos or at eBay.co.uk.
You could also pay to transfer Avios from the account of the deceased
Since earlier this year, British Airways will allow you to transfer 27,000 Avios per calendar year from one account to another for a flat fee of £15.
If you had access to the account of the deceased this would be another option of moving points out without having to involve a solicitor.
Make sure other people can access your BA account – or you can access the account of other family members
On a similar note …… you may want to consider making sure that other people can access your mileage account should anything happen to you. On the BA website you can up someone else to have access to your account as a ‘third party nominee’ and to give instructions to the call centre – I have this set up for my wife’s account so I can call up to make bookings from her account.
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 from UK credit cards (June 2023)
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 Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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 bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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.