Maximizing British Airways Avios Series: Household Accounts
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This is the next installment on my new Maximizing British Airways Avios series. Other posts include Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Distance-Based Awards, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets, The Avios and Cash Option, Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia, Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.
One of the most unique aspects is British Airways’ Executive Club is its Household Account feature. The Household Account allows you to pool miles, free of charge,with up to 7 other people.
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) Elite status is earned by the individual, not by the Household, so your status depends on your individual travel.
4) When awards are booked, the miles will be pulled proportionately from each member's account.
The Spring Break Example
For example, if there are 4 members in the household:
Bill: 32,000 miles, 11% of total Household miles
Hillary: (Head of Household): 28,000 miles, 8% of total Household miles
Mitt: 300,000 miles, 79% of total Household miles
Ann: 9,000 miles, 2% of total Household miles
Collectively the Household has 369,000 miles.
Let’s say Bill and Hillary decide they both want to go from New York to Bogota on spring break, but neither of them has the 35,000 Avios each needed for the roundtrip coach award on American Airlines via Miami. (Unfortunately Avios cannot be used for private jets.) 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 35,000 Avios awards, they can still take their trip without extra fees.
To do so, they can simply log in to their British Airways account and book the awards and the 70,000 Avios (which is 19% 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 (299,000 Avios) and multiple it by each of their % ownership of the account.
But what if Mitt and Ann don't want to let Bill and Hillary use their hard-earned Avios? They could leave the Household on their own at any point and their miles would then be their own, but as long as they are a part of a Household, there'd be no way to stop the others from booking awards. This is why you should only add people you trust to your Household account!
Going back to the epic spring break trip, this process is automated, so no long division required of the Household members. It also makes it easy to book awards for Household members without having to worry about mileage transfers going through and extra taxes and fees. However, the drawback is that you can’t select the amount of mileage going out of any individual’s account—for instance, you can’t just take 20,000 Avios out of one account and 10,000 out of another since the formula depends of the proportion of overall Household Avios in each individual member’s account.
The British Like Their Rules
While the Household account is free to establish, 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 outside your Household. The one exception to this is the 2 for 1 “Travel Together” companion certificate, which you get after spending $30,000 in a calendar year on the BA Visa.
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 it’s very easy to keep accounts active, especially if you have the BA card).
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!