What happens to loyalty rewards when you die?

Loyalty programmes are very popular and on average UK consumers each belong to five loyalty programmes. But do you understand the value of your loyalty rewards? What will happen to them when you die?

Loyalty programmes

Through loyalty programmes adults in the UK collectively earn approaching £6 billion each year in rewards.

However, a large part of this amount is likely to be lost because people don’t fully understand the value of their loyalty resulting in them failing to fully use them or even appreciate what will happen to their rewards when they die.

The Loyalty after Death report from TopCashback.co.uk,  has found that almost 75% of people do not know what their loyalty rewards would convert to in pounds and therefore underestimate their worth.

There really is a huge opportunity to benefit and save money on products and services with loyalty rewards.

As well not appreciating their value, over 90% of consumers do not know they can pass on their loyalty rewards to a loved one in the event of their death. Consequently people are failing to share details of their loyalty schemes and the benefits are therefore lost when they pass away.

Many do not even consider what to do with their loyalty rewards and over 40% wrongly believe that they cannot pass any of them on.

Tesco Clubcard

Just 5% people have left their passwords with a solicitor and 2% have included a list of their loyalty programmes in a will.

Adam Bullock, UK Director of TopCashback.co.uk, said: “Loyalty programmes can be incredibly rewarding and making the most of the benefits offered by companies, ensuring you get more for your money, is increasingly important in the current economic climate.

“While we would always encourage consumers to redeem their loyalty for themselves, people do like to save it up and therefore we also want to encourage consumers to have a plan in place to ensure their loyalty is not lost if they were to pass away.

“The first step is to leave the usernames and passwords of your loyalty schemes with a loved one or include them in your will.

“By doing this, people can at least be aware of the accounts you hold and the loyalty that is left behind allowing them to make a decision on what happens to the remaining loyalty.”

Can consumers bequeath their loyalty programme rewards?

Nectar card

According to the report different loyalty programmes each have their own policies when it comes to bequeathing loyalty when someone dies.

Schemes including Nectar, Tesco Clubcard and Avios allow points to be transferred to another person in the event of death.

However, some flight reward schemes and the IKEA family card do not allow for points to be transferred or passed on.

The majority of schemes require a death certificate and the process of transferring points can be lengthy.

Adam Bullock continued: “When planning what happens to your loyalty it is worth looking into the policies your loyalty schemes have on bequeathing rewards.

“While most will allow you to pass on your points it is not always the case.

“Depending on the policy you may want to make plans to use the points or transfer them to someone beforehand.

Avios

“Our policy on bequeathing cashback allows for members to name someone as a beneficiary in their will or for a loved one to withdraw any funds by providing a copy of the death certificate.

“Loyalty is huge in the UK and we would encourage all companies to follow a similar policy and allow their members to pass on their loyalty.

People should be allowed to hand down their property, their car and their air miles.”

Leigh Sagar, from STEP, said: “In legal terms, a consumer is entering into a contract with a company when joining a loyalty programme.

“The contract is not an onerous one, but it does contain certain terms and conditions that will be enforced by the court.

“These terms normally provide that only the registered user, or in some cases, persons in the same household, can collect and spend loyalty rewards.

“When the registered user dies, however, the points usually die with them unless their personal representatives contact the company in accordance with the required procedure.

“Although the terms and conditions usually state that the points have no cash value, they can be converted into goods and services that do have a value.

“Therefore, if the terms and conditions provide that the points can be claimed after death, unless they are of negligible value they should be declared as an asset in the tax forms that must be sent to HM Revenue and Customs before a grant of probate can be obtained.

“Legal advice should be sought in each case.”

Legal advice

Diane Ray, MoneyHighStreet.com “Speaking from personal experience, when a loved one dies there is so much emotion on the one hand and so much to do on the other that many things do get lost.

I expect that dealing with loyalty rewards, despite potentially being of reasonable value, may not be high on the list of priority matters to deal with at this very difficult time.

“That said, as with all personal finance matters, thinking ahead and planning is vital.

“Whilst noone likes to consider themselves or their loved ones demise, it is a certainty that we are all going to be faced with.

“Some upfront planning will make life so much easier for those left behind and dealing with your estate.

“As Adam Bullock suggests make sure your loved ones are at least aware of the loyalty schemes you belong to and ideally include the information with your will or leave it with a solicitor.

“Writing this article, I realise I have definitely fallen into the category of people who didn’t think rewards could be passed on and so have let those belonging to my parents and other family members be lost. Please don’t make the same mistake I did.”

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