What Will Happen To Your Reward Points And Miles After Your Death?

This is a guest post, written by Andy Masaki: Andy is a blogger and financial writer associated with the Oak View Law Group. He is a debt expert and a member of several online forums where he shares his advice as well as tips to lead a financially independent life. In this article he shares some research on whether you can pass on reward points to beneficiaries in a Will.

Most people opt for a rewards credit card or a loyalty card to earn from spending. You can either get cashback offers or accumulate reward points on your every purchase. After you accumulate a substantial amount of reward points, you can redeem it later on while making another purchase.

If you are a frequent traveler, you can sign up for an airline’s frequent flyer program as well! You can find many airline networks like Star Alliance, Oneworld, etc., consisting of domestic and international carriers. If you sign up with their frequent flyer program, you can earn miles while traveling with their partner carriers too.

Reward points in your Will
Credit: 123rf

No doubt, signing up for a rewards card or a loyalty program is a good way to save money. Let’s say, you are accumulating hundreds of thousands of reward points or miles to redeem afterward. But have you ever thought what will happen to your reward points or miles after your demise? Can you pass on your reward points to your heirs when you write your Will?

Well, the answer is complicated, because it depends on the issuer and their respective policies. If you go through the terms and conditions of your rewards card, you may find the fine print that outlines what will happen to your rewards points when you pass, but who has time for that?

It was widely reported that Anthony Bourdain included his Airmiles in his Will. Is this really possible?

We’ve done the legwork for you and have listed the policies about the afterlife of reward points and miles of the best-known rewards cards and airlines.

Let’s start one by one!

American Express Membership Reward points :

After your demise, American Express will allow a one-time redemption to the beneficiaries of your will. Either your beneficiaries can redeem the points by a gift card or they can transfer the points to a Membership Rewards transfer partner program.

However, keep in mind that the executor of your Will has to call the customer helpline of American Express to redeem or transfer your points.

Citi ThankYou Reward points :

All your rewards points will be forfeited upon your death. However, the executor of your will can request them within 1 year of your demise, as long as they can provide supporting evidence. If granted, your beneficiaries can redeem your points in ThankYou account for cash rewards.

Chase Ultimate Reward points :

In the rules and regulations documents, they clearly state that if an account holder closes his/her account or dies, all the reward points will be permanently forfeited.

However, in practice, if the executor of your will notifies Chase about your death, the reward points will be automatically available for cash in the form of an account statement credit.

Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards :

Your reward points will be forfeited upon your death. Unfortunately, your points can’t be transferred or redeemed through inheritance.

American Airlines :

Usually, miles of American Airlines are not transferable. However, if you mention your beneficiaries in your Will, American Airlines may transfer your miles. Your beneficiaries will have to provide supporting documents along with applicable fees if any.

United MileagePlus :

United doesn’t allow transferring miles. However, the executor of your Will can request for transferring of your accrued miles along with supporting documents and applicable fees. By doing so, United might transfer your accrued miles to your beneficiaries.

JetBlue TrueBlue :

In the JetBlue TrueBlue reward program, you can earn points and pool them with your close ones by using its Points Pooling program. It is important to note that if you’d like your beneficiaries to be able to redeem your accrued miles, you will have to pool your reward points with them prior to your death.

Delta Airlines :

Well, Delta Airlines has strict rules about transferring of reward points after the demise of its members. So, unfortunately, your beneficiaries won’t be able to redeem your accrued miles upon your death.

If you’re unsure, contact your rewards program provider to find out their policy on transferring accumulated points to beneficiaries upon your death.

Personally, I feel that companies should have a policy of transferring reward points after a member expires because he/she has accumulated these points by spending their hard-earned money by purchasing or flying with their company throughout his/her lifetime.

I would suggest you sign up for a loyalty program that has a transparent transfer policy of reward points after a member’s death because in case of your demise, your beneficiaries should be able to redeem your reward points like the way they will inherit your assets.

Hence, if your rewards points or frequent flyer miles aren’t transferable, you may want to consider signing up with rewards programs that are more flexible. Otherwise, it’s better to spend your reward points and miles before they expire due to inactivity.

There are  various redemption options like:

●      You can convert your points of ThankYou Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and other flexible reward programs to specific hotel or airline programs.

●      You can do online shopping through the loyalty program’s shopping portal. You need to visit their website and choose one of the participating merchants. Then you can redeem your points or miles by purchasing electronic items, apparel, magazines, etc.

●      You can consider donating your miles to a charity. You may find various charities that will readily accept your airline miles.

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