Loyalty club members often worry that a program will end up six feet under, leaving them with nothing to show for participating. But if you die, those points and miles amassed may be just as worthless.
Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards and Hilton HHonors are among the loyalty programs that generally do not allow points to be transferred after death, according to a new study from Colloquy, a market research firm.
"The issue is handled on a case-by-case basis, but HHonors will let members submit a death certificate for a one-time, fee-free transfer," said Dasha Ross, director of portfolio communications at Hilton Worldwide.
Other programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Citibank's ThankYou Rewards and Best Western Rewards, don't have policies detailed online—which the research firm reports can lead to conflicting interpretations from customer service representatives.
(See the chart below for policies for 13 airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs.)
"I don't think there's any sort of gamesmanship going on," said study author Jeff Berry. "Companies just have not thought through what happens when membership ends" because someone dies, said Berry, also Colloquy's research director.