Your air miles may die with you…Unless you put them in your will

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For travellers saving up air miles for a blowout trip the idea of adding them into their will would be a laughable suggestion.

But doing so could be a sensible decision as, unbeknownst to many of them, their air miles will die when they do – unless their formal final wishes state otherwise.

Such restrictions are hidden in the small print of loyalty schemes including Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, a report reveals today.

In most cases death rules only become known about once it is too late and points cannot be spent.

While British Airways bans air miles being passed onto beneficiaries all together, Virgin Atlantic’s "flying club" states that customers can bequeath points to friends or family, but only if they are explicitly mentioned in their will. 

Meanwhile Intercontinental Hotels points expire once someone has been dead for a year.

Richard Branson, center, founder of Virgin Atlantic and the Virgin Group, poses for a photo after he arrived on a flight from London to Seattle

Credit:
 Ted S. Warren

Solicitors described the policies as "unfair" and told the Daily Telegraph that the clauses were so badly advertised that they had not seen a single case of air miles or loyalty points being mentioned in wills.

James Daley, director at Fairer Finance, said: "For frequent travelers air miles can be worth thousands of pounds and it is very unreasonable to say people cannot pass these on. Policies which say people have to put points in their will are especially unfair on people who die young as they are less likely to have made one."

Gary Rycroft, a wills specialist at law firm Joseph A. Jones, said: "We are increasingly living in a world where people have things like loyalty points rather than wadges of cash to pass on. People don’t know about these rules until its too late, and we are seeing more and more people sneakily break firms’ rules by using them anyway. 

British Airways aircraft at Heathrow Airport

Credit:
Steve Parsons

"While we would not advise doing this, it is difficult to see how dissolving air miles on death without making it explicitly clear to customers first stacks up with the Consumer Rights Act 2015."

By contrast loyalty points accrued at supermarkets and high street stores including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Boots can be passed onto friends or relatives with no restrictions. 

British consumers accrue £5.9 billion in loyalty points a year according to savings website Topcashback.co.uk

In a survey it found that just 7pc of consumers were unaware of their loyalty points rules for when they die. 

Adam Bullock, UK Director of TopCashback.co.uk, said: Loyalty points are a huge trend in the UK and we would encourage all companies to allow their members to pass on their loyalty. People should be allowed to hand down their property, their car and their air miles”

 

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