Memberships in loyalty programs have increased more than 26 percent over the past two years according to the 2013 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census. That equates to tens of billions of dollars in rewards.These figures indicate that consumers place increasing value in their loyalty relationships and many of them consider their loyalty points an asset, which raises the question:What happens to that asset after the member’s death?

Some companies enable loyalty program members to transfer points, while others do not. Some impose a fee, while others will waive charges partially or entirely. In some programs, the transfer is restricted to a spouse, residential partner or joint account holder.To add to the confusion, not all companies’ polices are accessible online which obliges consumers to call customer service centers where regrettably, the representatives aren’t always well-informed sources.

Here are five tips you can use today to ensure your miles or points are passed down:

  1. Treat points/miles like a financial asset. Work with your estate-planning attorney to make clear what you want to happen withyour points when you die. This may mean appointing an executor to your estate and ensuring he or she is aware of your accumulated points or miles assets. For some programs, the miles or points go to the executor, who would decide what to do with them. Also, it may help to list your loyalty programs in a document separate from your will, to make it more accessible and easierto understand.
     
  2. Get organized. For each program you are part of, create a folder with your membership number, recent statement, online login details and policy guidelines. Keep in mind you may have to call customer service to get this last pieceof information and you should try to get it in written form, such as an email. Keep all of this information updated and in a safe place, like a fireproof lock box, and be sure your family members know where to find it. Those who inherit points should have the above information readily available, along with the account information of where they’d like the points transferred.
     
  3. Keep track of the points/miles you're accumulating. Several online services and apps, including Award Wallet, Points.com, Traxo, and UsingMiles.com will manage your loyalty programs and monitor your points or miles so you can keep on top of your asset. These free services will alert you when points or miles are about to expire and also provide tips on making the most of them.
     
  4. Consider the fees. Many programs charge a fee – typically $50 to $75 – to transfer points from account to account. Sucha fee can dilute the value of small gifts.,In such cases, it could be worth calling customer service to negotiate.
     
  5. Use them. Reward yourself by using your points and miles, or consider gifting points to loved ones or a charity now. Planning how to distribute points will require giving thought to dividingthis asset among family members, charities and other recipients. Discuss your plans with your heirs so they understand your wishes.