When a California resident passes away, the credit card reward points and airline miles they accumulated are sometimes worth a significant amount. This is especially true if they used a particular card whenever possible to earn elite or premium status. Credit card companies usually include language in their terms and conditions that makes it clear that reward points are not property and are not legally owned by cardholders, but that does not mean they cannot be transferred.
Transferring credit card reward points
Each credit card company has its own rules and procedures for transferring reward points. Some companies allow customer service representatives to take care of this over the phone, but a copy of the death certificate will probably be required to complete the transfer. Navigating this estate planning process is usually much easier when the executor or heirs have the user names and passwords needed to log into credit card accounts. Lenders are notified when an account holder passes away, so the time available to transfer points may be limited.
Using credit card reward points
Credit card points can sometimes be redeemed for cash, but they are usually worth a lot more when they are used to book flights, reserve hotel rooms or choose gifts from the issuing company’s reward program. When points are transferred, it is a good idea to find out if they have an expiration date. Some credit card companies work with charities and allow their cardholders to donate reward points.
Simplifying the process
If you have earned credit card reward points or miles that you would like to pass on to your heirs, you should make sure that the person you choose to act as your executor is aware of them and knows how to transfer them. You should compile a list of your credit card account user names and passwords.