Ask Credit Card Finder: What happens to reward points after death?

Posted: 14 November 2018 9:00 am
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Will the points balance be passed on to additional cardholders or other family members?

Hi,
I have a Westpac Altitude Black credit card that I shared with my husband. He was the primary cardholder and recently passed away. As the secondary cardholder, is there any way I can claim these points, or are they lost forever when I notify the bank he has passed?
Thanks for your help,
P.

I'm sorry to hear about your husband's passing. I understand there must be a lot of practical details to sort out at this time – including the credit card account that you shared – and I appreciate you asking us about this so we can help in some small way.

I've checked the Westpac Altitude Rewards terms and conditions and, in this case, the Altitude Points that you or your husband earned with a Westpac Altitude Black Mastercard will be converted to a credit on the account if you notify the bank of your husband's passing within six months.

Once you have done this, the points will be converted at the same rate that applies for Altitude Annual Fee Rebate rewards. Upon checking the Altitude website on 15 November 2018, the current transfer rates are as follows:

  • 5,000 Altitude Points = $25
  • 15,000 Altitude Points = $75
  • 20,000 Altitude Points = $100
  • 25,000 Altitude Points = $125
  • 30,000 Altitude Points = $150

So, as an example, if the account you shared with your husband had 30,000 Altitude Points, then they would be converted to an account credit of $150. This means if there is an outstanding balance on the account, the points can go towards reducing it.

Note that the point conversion rate could change, depending on when you notify Westpac. You can check the Altitude Rewards website for the transfer rate that will apply, or ask the bank's representative when you contact them.

Also keep in mind that this is the only way for the points to be put to use in this situation, as additional cardholders are not able to redeem the points in any other way. Other details you may need to consider include the following:

  • If it's been more than 6 months: The points will be forfeited.
  • If the points have been earned on a card issued by American Express: The points will be forfeited.
  • If you were both earning Qantas Points instead of Altitude Points: The Qantas Frequent Flyer terms and conditions would apply to your points. Unfortunately, this would mean any Qantas Points earned in your husband's name would be cancelled.

As you're listed as a secondary cardholder on this account, you won't be able to use the card once you have notified the bank of your husband's death. Westpac will be able to advise you on other options, such as applying for a credit card in your name as well as options for paying off any debt that is left on the account you shared with your husband.

You can also find more information on that in our guide to dealing with credit card debt after someone has passed away. And please remember that you can reach out to us with any other questions that may help you deal with accounts during this difficult time.

What about other reward programs?

Unlike Qantas Frequent Flyer, the Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer terms and conditions give the executors or administrators of a deceased member's estate the option of transferring points to another Velocity account within 12 months of the member's death.

However, the amount of information other credit card reward programs include in their terms and conditions varies. For example, St.George Amplify Rewards has similar conditions to Altitude Rewards, while ANZ Rewards states that the points may be cancelled and the terms and conditions for American Express Membership Rewards (Gateway) discloses no explicit information about what happens when the primary cardholder passes away.

So, if you have a similar situation with another card, you could ask the provider about what options you have when you notify them of a loved one's passing. They will then be able to tell you what will happen to the points as well as any rights or responsibilities you may have as a secondary cardholder.

Ask Credit Card Finder is a weekly column written by Finder's credit card expert Amy Bradney-George. All rates and fees are correct at time of publication and we only give general advice.

Do you have a question? Reach out in the comments or speak to someone from our 24/7 customer service team.

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