What Happens to Bank and Hotel Rewards Points When You Die?

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We recently documented the expiration and transfer policies of major frequent flyer programs, listing the rules for deceased estates and any possible workarounds. In this post, we’re going to cover the different policies for bank and hotel rewards points.

Terms and Conditions
It's essential to read the terms & conditions of loyalty programs if you want to pass your rewards points on in your will.

Transfer rules for hotel points in deceased estates are not as strict as frequent flyer programs, but they’re often still subject to discretionary policies putting members at the mercy of the loyalty program. Another reason to ensure your account is kept in good standing at all times or it could spell the end to a valuable asset in the event of a member’s untimely death.

Bank rewards, on the other hand, are a bit of a mixed bag. Amex has a very well documented process with information that is easy to find, meaning members are unlikely to make any serious mistakes.

Whereas Chase doesn’t have a published policy for bequeathing Ultimate Rewards points, although there are plenty of cases online of joint cardmembers making a successful case to take over a loved one’s account.

And Citi ThankYou Rewards makes it relatively easy to redeem the remaining points in a deceased member’s account with the right paperwork.

Hotel Rewards Programs

Carlson Resider Club Carlson – Allows transfers upon death at reps discretion if provided the correct paperwork.

Gold Points belonging to a Club Carlson member who is deceased may be transferred to the Club Carlson account of the deceased member’s beneficiaries in our sole discretion. The transfer request must include documentation showing proof of death, such as a death certificate, and proof of authority to make the request, such as court documents or the decedent’s will. Requests must be made within one year of the date of death.

Hilton Honors – Allows transfers to any Honors member with the right documents.

In case of the death of a Member, points in the Member’s account may be transferred to another active Member upon Hilton Honors Worldwide’s receipt and approval of certain requested documentation and information. To be eligible, transfer must be requested and all required documents and information provided within one year from the date of the Member’s death.

World of Hyatt – Can transfer points from deceased estate to a person sharing the same residential address.

World of Hyatt points are for member's benefit only and are not transferable to another person for any reason including divorce or inheritance. In the case of documented death of a World of Hyatt member, World of Hyatt points are transferable to a person sharing the same residential mailing address

IHG Rewards Club – Fee-free transfer upon death to member’s beneficiaries.

IHG® Rewards Club points may be transferred to the IHG® Rewards Club accounts of the member's beneficiaries. The request for transfer should be sent to the IHG® Rewards Club Service Centre by the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate, along with court documents showing authority, or by a sole beneficiary, along with copies of the decedent’s will and death certificate. The request must be received within one year of the date of death. Transfer fees will be waived

Marriott & The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Has a simple policy allowing for points to be transferred to a partner.

Points are transferable to a legal spouse or domestic partner in the case of documented death of the Member

When compared to frequent flyer programs, hotel rewards appear to offer a relatively simple path to claiming points from a deceased estate, with much clearer language and direct requirements.

Credit Card Rewards Programs

American Express Membership Rewards – Doesn’t allow points to be transferred out of the account, but you can effectively take over the Amex account and all of its points and liabilities.

You can't transfer points to any other person or program account. Additionally, points can't be transferred by operation of law, such as by inheritance, in bankruptcy or in connection with a divorce.

Anyone age 18 and above, who may or may not be an Additional Cardmember, may be eligible to assume liability and become the new Basic Cardmember. Once you have assumed liability of the account you may reinstate Membership Rewards points associated with the account.

Note: Membership Rewards points are forfeit immediately upon account closure, so it is best to ensure all points have been redeemed before shutting the account.

Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase does not have an officially published policy for deceased estates.

As far as we can gather, the policy is similar to the Amex policy above but a bit more restrictive. Chase will allow a joint cardmember or authorized user to take over the account, in which case the points will remain in the account. Any rewards points remaining in an account when it is closed will be forfeited.

Citi ThankYou Rewards – Will allow points remaining in the account to be redeemed with the correct paperwork.

You will lose your Points upon your death, and your estate, successors, and assigns have no property rights or other legal interests in such Points, except under this circumstance:

If we receive a written request within one year of your death from the executor or administrator of your estate, along with evidence satisfactory to us of your death and the identity and appointment of the executor or administrator, we can allow Points remaining in your ThankYou account to be redeemed for Cash Rewards. Contact the ThankYou Service Center at 1-800-842-6596 for more information.

Of all the policies we looked at across frequent flyer, hotel points, and bank rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards was the only program for which we couldn’t find a published policy for deceased estates.

Final Thoughts

The best policy we can recommend relating to rewards points for a deceased estate is planning for it while the account holder is still alive. For anyone actively collecting points and miles, legacy planning will have a huge impact if there is any chance of a substantial balance being left in a rewards account.

While account holders don’t technically own the balance in their accounts, a clearly labeled instruction for specific accounts in your rewards portfolio, that can be shown to program representatives, will go a long way towards ensuring balances end up in the right place.

What Happens to Bank and Hotel Rewards Points When You Die?
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Comments

  • Super helpful post and something I always wondered about.

  • If someone is a joint cardholder on an account, I don’t understand how issuers would be justified in clawing back accrued points.

    • In the case of a joint account holder, you should have no issues, but very few accounts are joint accounts. Most accounts are setup with a primary cardmember and authorized users, which do not share liability. A joint account holder shares liability with someone else. In fact, not all card issuers will offer credit card services with a joint account holder — it adds to the complexity of the account.

      • Thank you for clarifying this fact. I read “Joint Account” in the blog post and was instantly thinking authorized users. Definitely a good idea to leave instructions concerning loyalty accounts in your last will & testament‎.

  • I didn’t realize the same options wouldn’t be available for hotels as for airlines. Thanks for making me aware!

  • Wow, I did not even realize award wallet had this blog. I’m commenting to get the 5 miles for one of the members of my award wallet account, but I’m not sure what to do other than leave this comment. By the way, it’s an excellent topic for discussion

  • This was a really well-written and informative article because it never occurred to me that I might die! But it’s completely accurate that I better mention my points and miles in my will so my wife can hopefully continue to travel even if I’m not there anymore.

  • Excellent post with great information. Thank you.

  • This is part of a broader point about having an estate plan for your digital identity. Social media accounts, passwords, websites, etc. all need to be managed. The best thing is to appoint someone trusted to access a file with passwords in them, and to follow your instructions — deletion, legacy status, or otherwise.

  • thank you for this information, please extend the list of companies. thanks

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