We've had a few readers reach out asking about a rather difficult topic:
What happens to your points and miles when you die?"
Obviously, this can be a touchy subject. When someone dies, the last thing you're thinking about is what happens to their frequent flier miles.
But it's also a shame to let them go to waste. After all, people like me spend years racking up points and miles. I know when I die, I'd want to make sure my hard-earned points and miles can still be put to good use.
There's no simple answer to this question, but I want to share some tips and data points that may give you an idea of how you can turn a deceased loved one's points into more memories, and what you can do for yourself to make this process easier when you pass on.
Make sure you give access to your accounts to a loved one
The easiest way to ensure your loved ones will be able to use your points and miles is to share your login details with someone you trust.
If you pass away, those with your login info can easily log in and either transfer points out of your account or simply book travel under their own name using your points.
Contact the loyalty program and ask about which policies they have in place
Most loyalty programs understand that people can sometimes die, believe it or not.
As a result, they have policies in place to help salvage points, miles, and even elite status for next of kin.
Every program has a different policy in this regard, but let me give you a couple of examples from people that have told me about their experience first-hand.
Marriott Bonvoy will transfer points to a next of kin after providing documentation like a marriage certificate, death certificate of the deceased, etc.
If the deceased had elite status, Marriott Bonvoy will sometimes honor that status (or sometimes one status level lower) for up to a year for the next of kin, which is a very generous policy.
I've met people who have gone through this process with Marriott and say they make it very easy.
American Airlines is also very generous when it comes to transferring miles when someone dies. As long as you have proper documentation like a death certificate and proof of your relationship to the deceased, they'll accommodate points transfers.
Many programs do not have published rules on this topic but are able to accommodate point transfers in the event of a member's death. One thing you can do to increase the odds of having your points salvaged is to make this a point in your will.
Obviously, you should consult with an expert on the exact language you use, but specifying who you want to receive your points and miles after death can make the process a whole lot smoother if and when that happens.
Anyway, I know this topic can be touchy and difficult to talk about. But if you love to travel and cherish your points and miles, make sure your loved ones can put them to good use when you're gone.