4 tips for ensuring your loyalty program assets are handed down
Collecting Rewards Reward points and miles are a valuable asset. It's important to put as much thought and effort into bequeathing them as you do into earning them.
I never considered how valuable my frequent flyer miles could be to a loved one until I saw an episode of “Two and a Half Men,” during which a billionaire gave a teenager 250,000 miles because he just didn’t need them.
That’s a lot of miles to give away. Yet every year, many people do that unwittingly because they have not planned how to pass on their loyalty miles or points upon death. Only 13 percent of Canadians are familiar with their program’s policy regarding the transfer of a deceased collector’s points, according to a recent survey of almost 1,200 consumers, by LoyaltyOne. Almost 85 percent of those surveyed never considered what would happen to those points when they die.
Yet at the same time, 61 percent of those consumers said it was important for their loyalty program to have an easy-to-understand bequeathing policy in place.
Your account could go into dormancy after a period of inactivity; know when your points expire.
After further research we learned that some companies do, but not all are easy to understand. Here are a few key tips for ensuring your miles or points don’t disappear into thin air:
1) Get organized
For each program you are part of, create a folder for your membership number, recent statement, online log in and policy guidelines. Keep in mind you may have to call customer service to get this last bit of information and should try to get it in written form, such as an email. Keep all of this information updated and in a safe place, like a fireproof lock box, and be sure your family members know where to find it. Those who inherit points should have the above information ready, along with the account information of where they’d like the points transferred.
2) Keep track of the points/miles you’re accumulating
Several online services and apps, including AwardWallet.com and UsingMiles.com will manage your loyalty programs, and monitor your points or miles so you can keep on top of your assets. These free services will alert you when points or miles are about to expire and also provide tips on making the most of them.
3) Consider the fees
Many programs charge a fee — typically $50 to $75 — to transfer points from account to account. If a fee is involved, it would dilute the value of small gifts. In such cases, it could be worth calling customer service to negotiate.
4) Use them
Reward yourself by using your points and miles, or consider gifting points to loved ones or a charity now. Planning how to distribute points will require you to give thought to how to divide this asset among family members, charities and other recipients. Discuss your plans with heirs so they understand your wishes.
You don’t have to be a billionaire to have a reward portfolio of value. If we put as much thought into bequeathing our points and miles as we do into earning them, we can ensure future generations will enjoy them, too.