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What Happens to Your Reward Points When You Die?

April 10, 2013
3 mins
A woman in a yellow shirt types her credit card details into her phone

Like most of us, you’ve probably been avidly collecting miles and points with the thought that someday you’ll buy something really cool.

But what happens if, heaven forbid, you die before you have a chance to spend them? Can they be left for a loved one in your will? A recent article in the Financial Post says that they can -- for the most part.

Canadians love their loyalty points

According to a 2009 loyalty marketing census, Canadians hold 115 million loyalty program memberships. In fact, the average Canadian household holds 9.2 memberships. The most popular program by far are Aeroplan and Air Miles. Aeroplan has some 4 million members, and Air Miles has 9.5 million.

Would you leave them to a loved one?

Many people wouldn't think about leaving points to someone in a will.

But if you collect thousands of points each year, you may wish to leave your points in a will. Check your policy closely to see if it’s possible.

Including your points in your will ensures that they fall into the right hands, plus it helps to avoid family conflicts. Depending on the program, rules vary. For instance, Air Miles will allow you to merge your accounts with the account that belongs to the deceased, but you’ll need a death certificate and a letter signed by either the executor or a legal representative.

Aeroplan’s estate transfer policy, on the other hand, will allow you redeem the balance upon declaration of death, provided you supply a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the will, as well as a $30 processing fee. Without a will, you’ll have to provide proof that you’re the spouse or heir of the deceased.

No afterlife for these points

Other credit card programs have even stricter policies, though.

The National Post made some inquiries of some of the more commonly used rewards programs. Upon the cardholder’s death, Shoppers Optimum Rewards Program shuts down the account, denying the right to transfer points that have been earned.

The American Express Company’s credit card rewards program won’t even send a package of forms without a call from an executor. Want to pass on your miles and points without the fuss? You could just hand over your account information, password and account number included.

Most programs allow you to use your points online, without verifying whether or not the account actually belongs to you. The National Post warns that this might actually be against the rules, though. Inheriting those points can be made easier with just a little preparation.

Before calling, be sure you have a copy of the death certificate, the deceased’s loyalty program account numbers, as well as their email address and home address. Also, open your own account so that there’s somewhere to transfer those points.

Finally, if you don’t have the will itself, be sure you have a letter from the executor.  


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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