What Happens To Your Loyalty Rewards After You Die?
With the winter season upon us, many Canadians are planning their escape to a warmer climate. And many may be cashing in the points they have accrued through loyalty rewards programs for travel perks.
With the growing popularity of loyalty rewards programs, a recent CBC article served as an important reminder to consider the terms of these programs when doing your estate planning. The article told the story of a Victoria, B.C. woman who was surprised to learn the cost of transferring the points that had been accrued by her stepmother, who had recently passed away leaving 250,000 Aeroplan miles behind.
Under Aeroplan’s terms and conditions, Aeroplan miles cannot be “exchanged for cash, assigned, traded, willed or otherwise transferred….” However, at paragraph 4 of the terms, Aeroplan reserves the right to allow members to transfer miles to another account or transfer miles after death, in its sole discretion.
According to the CBC article, Aeroplan does offer two options to transfer the miles of a deceased member. The miles can be transferred for a fee of $30.00 and a charge of $0.01 per point, which would result in a charge of $2,530.00 for someone with 250,000 points. In the alternative, the survivors and heirs can transfer the miles for a flat fee of $30.00, but the miles must be used within a period of one year.
As we have previously discussed on this blog, the terms of each loyalty program will vary in their ability to bequest accrued points. As a result, it is advisable to retain the assistance of an estate planning professional who can advise you on your right to transfer or will your earned rewards.
In certain circumstances, based on the contractual terms that govern the program, you may be able to make a gift of your rewards under your Will. You may also want to contact the program to confirm what information will be required to effect the transfer of points upon your death.
Finally, it would be prudent to create a document for your survivors and heirs with the particulars of your rewards program memberships. As noted above, there may be options available with limitation periods within which points must be used before they expire.
Thank you for reading and have a great long weekend.
Umair Abdul Qadir