If you have accumulated a lot of frequent flier miles or rewards points throughout the years, you may or may not have wondered what will happen to them if you become incapacitated or pass away. This is something important to consider and company policies may or may not decide what happens to them.
Some individuals wonder about the frequent flier miles of a deceased loved one. The fact is that you are not going to be able to take those miles with you to the afterlife, so what happens to them is a very good question. The issue, however, is that rewards cardholders usually do not think about what will happen to their miles when they pass on.
Statistically, outstanding frequent flier miles and other loyalty reward points have an average value of $50 billion, but only 12 percent of consumers in the United States are aware of the program policies in regards to passing those points on. This shows that the loyalty marketing industry is huge, but many are not taking advantage of the fact that they can pass on their hard-earned loyalty rewards to loved ones.
Just look at how loyalty programs are soaring in the United States. Americans have over 2.5 million memberships in these programs. Over 2011, that is an increase of 26 percent. Much of this can be attributed to the fact the population is aging and, as people age, they accumulate points due to increased traveling. Age also brings about the fact that the probability of a person dying increases.
It has been found that nearly 76 percent of individuals have never thought about bequeathing their loyalty programs. For those who are advancing in age, this is something that they may want to consider, especially if there is a large number of miles. There seems to be a hoarding mentality among rewards points collectors. This is because they have the goal of saving them and then redeeming them at a time in which they can take their dream trip.
Donate Or Redeem
While anyone can pass away at any age due to a sudden health issue that makes traveling impossible or due to an accident, the older population has a lot to consider. Those who are in their 60s or older who are sitting on a lot of points should start thinking about what to do with their miles.
One option is to redeem the miles for tickets that can be issued to other people. A second option is to donate the miles to a charity. There are many nonprofit organizations that use the points to do such things as provide someone with transportation to a life-saving medical treatment, as well as make the wishes of a terminally ill child come true. Family members have even been flown halfway across the world in order to be with an injured soldier.
If you decide that you want to pass on points to a loved one after you die, the difficulty lies in sorting out the airline, hotel, and other loyalty rewards programs. You also have to look at which ones will allow you to bequeath your points.
Reviewing Company Policies
Some companies allow points to be inherited. Some allow the inheritance to be only by a partner, spouse, or the joint account holder. Some charge no fees to do a points transfer, while others do. Many company policies regarding points are not always posted online, so it is possible to talk with a customer service representative who is not aware of this policy until they research it.
Along with the variations in the company policies, there are also different variations within the company itself. The rules can say one thing, but the customer service representative can say something completely different.
There are also times than an airline's policy may say that you can't transfer points, but a phone call to the customer service line to inquire may result in it being allowed anyway. In many cases, all that is required is a death certificate or other legal document proving the death in order to transfer the points. This ensures that fraud is prevented.
It is up to the company to decide whether or not to allow points to be passed on. However, the common complaint is that the information is not readily available and tends to be hidden in the fine print. The reason why this may be could be because companies do not necessarily consider points to be an asset that belongs to the program member. However, the members have a different view on this.
For instance, someone who has raced up a million miles is going to see this as very valuable. It takes years to rack up this many points or miles. However, the policies regarding the rewards program can change during that time.
One way to deal with this issue is to include the points in your will. Many law firms have included loyalty points in wills over the last decade. The program member may decide to pass their points on to their children, spouse, or to a close friend. Attorneys advise including points in a will even if the point balance is low at the time the will is drafted.
The inheritance of points can also be outlined in a power of attorney form so that a person’s wishes can be carried out. More and more people are becoming incapacitated before they die, so a power of attorney can be useful in this case.
To make sure your points are passed on accordingly, it is important to keep an accurate record of your account numbers and passwords and store it in a safe location, such as a safe deposit box or a safe.
If you have a high quantity of rewards points or frequent flier miles, you may want to make arrangements for them so that they are not lost. Many individuals put a lot of effort into accumulating points and it is good to know that it is possible that they can be passed on to someone else if they can't be used.