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TPG reader question: What happens to your points and miles after a cardholder has died?

June 07, 2021
3 min read
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TPG reader question: What happens to your points and miles after a cardholder has died?
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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at tips@thepointsguy.com.


While we may not want to think about it, the death of a loved one means a host of logistical arrangements. For travelers, that can include what to do with a collection of points and miles that may be left behind.

If someone passes away, what happens to their stash of loyalty currencies? Does it disappear into the abyss without a trace or is there a way to retrieve them? This week, TPG reader Ira Serkes asks us this exact question.

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[pullquote source="Ira Serkes, TPG reader"]How do you transfer miles and points after the cardholder has died? I'm thinking ahead and thought it would be something I should at least plan for. [/pullquote]

The main thing you need to know is this: Your points and miles are not your property. You’ll see language saying the loyalty currency doesn’t belong to you in almost every loyalty program's terms and conditions. That's the bad news.

However, the good news is that most (but certainly not all) programs make it fairly easy to transfer points and miles upon death.

For instance, here are United's MileagePlus terms:

“In the event of the death or divorce of a Member, United may, in its sole discretion, credit all or a portion of such Member’s accrued mileage to authorized persons upon receipt of documentation satisfactory to United and payment of applicable fees.”

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(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, there is no catch-all process when it comes to points and miles after a cardholder's death. Some programs will allow you to transfer them with a simple phone call and a copy of a death certificate (United MileagePlus and American AAdvantage). Others may require a court order (i.e., Delta SkyMiles).

When it comes to card programs, Amex says that with Membership Rewards, in the event of death, an executor or personal representative may request to use the points in the program account in a one-time redemption by calling them.

For more specific information about individual programs, read our full guide to points and miles after you die.

However, the easiest tip may be to ensure that your loved ones have your login information so they can continue using your points or miles after you die.

Related: What happens to credit cards after a cardholder dies?

Bottom line

Dealing with the death of a friend or family member can be an incredibly challenging time. Thankfully, most programs make it fairly easy to retain a loved one's points and miles, contrary to what terms and conditions might actually say.

Those loyalty currencies may be worth thousands of dollars in free travel, so it's something you likely wouldn't want to go to waste. A quick call to the loyalty program in question will likely help you figure out the next steps. But in almost all cases, you can also log in and use a loved one's points or miles even after they pass.

Additional reporting by Richard Kerr.

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023