What happens to all those points after you're gone? - Macleans.ca

What happens to all those points after you’re gone?

How to Will your FF points – Will Them or Lose Them


You love your Frequent Flyer miles. Collect them. Count them. Admire them. Unfortunately, you can’t take them with you.

Many avid collectors leave thousands of unredeemed reward points when they die. Quite often, those left behind are unaware of them until the next account update arrives – and the value of this asset hits home. With a proliferation of reward programs, Canadians now collect points from retail establishments, gas stations, and drug stores, so it may be worthwhile to understand their value and their restrictions.

With most FFP’s, surviving spouses or children who want to transfer valuable points to their account can do so based on certain criteria. Air Miles and Aeroplan, the two largest Canadian reward programs, require the following:

  • With Air Miles, you need a copy of both the death certificate and the will which clearly recognizes that the legitimate heir of the mentioned assets is the same as the person requesting the transfer of said points. In the case of Aeroplan, if it is the surviving spouse requesting the transfer, only a death certificate is required. If a non-spouse heir wishes to receive the miles, they must provide a will or notarized letter identifying them as the chosen beneficiary.
  • Air Miles makes it very easy once they have received the required documentation. In my personal experience, the customer service rep was kind and helpful, and effected the transfer with a genuine degree of understanding. There was no penalty imposed as a result of our request.
  • Aeroplan’s policy is more cumbersome – and, more expensive. First, a transfer fee of $30 is imposed, which is certainly not outrageous. However, Aeroplan charges an additional one penny per point transferred. So, for example, a minimal account with 30,000 points would engender a $300 extra charge. A serious collector’s estate with 500,000 points would force the spouse to pay $5,000 for ownership of the account.

Outstanding reward points represent major capital, totaling the largest overall currency in the world. As a standing liability carried over from year to year, airlines are understandably eager to terminate accounts. And given the grief of a surviving spouse, he or she may not care to investigate the process. That’s why it pays to understand program policies for passing on points to a survivor while you can.

By Ron Pradinuk
Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre, a travel products retail outlet www.journeystravelgear.com , as well as Winnipeg based Renaissance Travel. He is past national president of the
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies.

Photo Credits: Petar Neychev

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What happens to all those points after you’re gone?

  1. I would like to correct the last fact stated in the article about Aeroplan as as of yesterday, March 31st, 2011 and after a comprehensive review and analysis, Aeroplan has introduced a second option to its mileage transfer policy following the death of a member to ensure it meets member satisfaction and helps enhance members' overall experience. The spouse of the deceased Aeroplan Member or, if there is no spouse, the surviving residual heir(s) of the estate will be able to redeem the outstanding balance of the deceased Member for a period 12 months from the declaration of death by providing supporting documentation (by mail or e-mail) and paying a processing fee of $30 (plus taxes). We're confident that our new policy will be met with approval from our members, partners and employees and all other relevant stakeholders.
    Isabelle Troitzky, Director of communications at Aeroplan Canada