April 12, 2011
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: The current sign-up bonus offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios. 25,000 upon first use, and another 25,000 when you spend $2,500 within 90 days.
This is the fifth installment of my series on maximizing British Airways miles. Since so many of you got in on the super-lucrative 100,000 mile BA Visa sign-up bonus (see details of the current 100K offer), it would be beneficial to check out: General tips, Post 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10 – Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.
With British Airways, their frequent flyer program is different in many ways from traditional “legacy” US programs. One of the most unique aspects is BA’s Household Account feature. The Household Account allows you to pool miles from up to 6 other members of your “household.” Key things to note:
1) There has to be a head of household. This person will have full control of who joins/leaves the Household.
2) Anyone can join your Household, they just need to have the same address as the Head of Household on file in their Executive Club account. Your address on file can be changed at any time, free of charge.
3) When awards are booked, the miles will be pulled proportionately from each member’s account. For example, if there are 4 members in the household:
Tom: 35,000 miles, 42% of total Household miles
Dick (Head of Household): 19,000 miles, 23% of total Household miles
Harry: 15,000 miles, 18% of total Household miles
Sally: 14,000 miles, 17% of total Household miles
Collectively the Household has 83,000 miles. Harry and Sally decide they both want to go from New York to Buenos Aires on spring break, but neither of them have the 40,000 miles needed for the coach award on American Airlines. Under most loyalty programs, they’d still be short and would be stuck paying fees to transfer miles between accounts. However, since the Household has enough collective miles to book two 40,000 awards, they have nothing to worry about. They can simply log in to their British Airways account and book the awards and the 80,000 miles (which is 96.39% of the total Household’s mileage balance) would come proportionately from each account. So to see how many points they’d each be left with simply take the leftover balance (3,000) and multiple it by each of their % ownership of the account.
Tom: 1,260 miles, 42% of total Household miles
Dick (Head of Household): 690 miles, 23% of total Household miles
Harry: 540 miles, 18% of total Household miles
Sally: 510 miles, 17% of total Household miles
Remaining balance = 3,000 miles
The good thing is, this process is automated, so no long division required.
While the Household account is free, British Airways did put some rules in place to limit abuse:
1) You can only book awards for people in your Household. This is probably the biggest thing to note; what you gain in flexibility to pool miles, you lose in ability to redeem for anyone else. The one exception to this is the 2 for 1 companion certificate, which you get after spending $30,000 in a calendar year on the Chase Visa (more on that in a future post).
2) Once it’s created, you can only add/delete members every 6 months. Household accounts were not created so you could pool miles with random people. The intention is that it’s with your immediate household, though they leave the interpretation of who qualifies as a Household member up to the Head of Household, which is generous.
3) You can disband a Household Account at any time, but you can’t re-create another for 6 months
4) Suspicious activity will be flagged and remember – BA can take all of your miles away at any time. Pressing your luck with a fraudulent Household Account isn’t worth it.
5) Only people 18+ can redeem for awards. If the Household Account is disbanded, all miles of minors go to the head of household.
6) Only redeemable miles are pooled. Each member still continues to earn elite points individually.
7) Like regular BA miles, Household miles expire after 36 months of no activity (though its very easy to keep accounts active, especially if you have the BA Visa).
I recommend reading the rules on Household accounts before signing up for one. If you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer since I am currently a Head of my BA Household Account – oh the power!
16.1 The following are the specific terms and conditions that apply to Household Accounts. If there is any conflict between the terms and conditions in this Clause 16 and any other clause herein, these terms and conditions will prevail to the extent the term or condition relates to, or regulates the operation of the Household Account:
16.1.1Members can apply for a Household Account by completing the application process available online at ba.com.
16.1.2A maximum of seven individuals are allowed per each Household Account. All Household Account members must permanently reside at the same residential address. Subject to Clause 16.1.4 (b) below, there is no age requirement to belong to a household account.
16.1.3Only one Household Account per residence is permitted. Business addresses are not permitted for Household Accounts. Only permanent residential addresses are permitted for Household Accounts.
16.1.4To create a Household Account:
(a) the application process on ba.com must be completed naming the relevant members; and
(b) a primary member must be designated in respect of the Household Account who must be 18 years of age or over and, in all cases, an existing Member of the Executive Club.
The remaining members of the Household Account (other than the primary member) can either be existing Members of the Executive Club or new Members. At the time of joining the Household Account, new Members will receive an Executive Club Membership number and may be provided with a Card.
16.1.5Only the primary member of the Household Account may submit a change of address, details of the addition to and removal of members from such account or the dissolution of the account. This will change the address on the account and/or status of the account for all of the Household Account members. The primary member can make such changes by using the process available online at ba.com.
16.1.6If the primary member of the Household Account dies or leaves the Executive Club, the remaining Household Account members, who are over 18 years, must nominate as between them another member (or a new member) to become the new primary Household Account member. Failure to do so will result in the dissolution of the Household Account. The new primary member must satisfy the criteria in Clause 16.1.4(b) above. Details of the new primary member must be notified to British Airways in writing at the address specified in Clause 16.1.5.
16.1.7Once a Household Account is established, new member(s) may not be added or existing member(s) removed more than once every six months. A Household Account may not be dissolved or re-established more than once every six months.
16.1.8Mileage will be tracked and recorded individually under each member’s own Executive Club Membership number by British Airways. Provided a member has been active in the Executive Club programme, each member may access an online statement at ba.com detailing their own transactions and the household Mileage in total. For the avoidance of doubt, infant fares do not earn Mileage.
16.1.9Executive Club tier level is attained for the individual (not the household) based on the individual member’s Tier Points earned.
16.1.10Any Household Account member can individually redeem from the Household Account, regardless of who earned the redeemed Mileage, including without limitation, all or part of the total Mileage earned by the other members of the Household Account. Each member is solely responsible for discussing with other Household Account members decisions concerning the use and redemption of Mileage under any Household Account as between members.
16.1.11When a redemption is made Mileage will be taken from each Member’s Mileage balance in proportion to the size of each Member’s Mileage balance.
16.1.12Parents or guardians may nominate persons under 18 years of age to be a member of a Household Account and this will entitle them to earn and, subject to the remainder of this Clause 16.1.12, redeem Mileage. Requests and bookings relating to Awards may be made by any Household Account member provided they are 18 years of age or over. For the avoidance of doubt and apart from the ability to earn Mileage and receiving the benefit of Award travel by virtue of Mileage being redeemed for their benefit by any Householder Account member over 18 years of age, Household Account members under 18 years of age are not entitled to the Services by reason of their being a Household Account member.
16.1.13If a participant dies, ceases to reside at the Household Account address or ceases to be a Member of the British Airways Executive Club, the unredeemed Mileage held by that person will be removed from the Household Account balance.
16.1.14Subject to Clause 16.1.12, Awards can only be issued by British Airways to members of the Household Account (and will not be issued to persons that are not members of such an account), as designated/nominated by a Household Account member at the time of issuance, after which Awards may not be transferred or reissued to a different name.
16.1.15Awards will be mailed only to the residential address noted on the Executive Club Household Account records. In some countries Awards may have to be collected from designated places.