How to Use British Airways Miles: Post 5, Using Household Accounts to Your Advantage
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This is the fifth installment of my series on maximizing British Airways miles. Since so many of you got in on the super-lucrative 100,000 mile BA Visa sign-up bonus (see details of the current 100K offer), it would be beneficial to check out: General tips, Post 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10 – Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to check out my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.
With British Airways, their frequent flyer program is different in many ways from traditional “legacy” US programs. One of the most unique aspects is BA’s Household Account feature. The Household Account allows you to pool miles from up to 6 other members of your “household.” Key things to note:
1) There has to be a head of household. This person will have full control of who joins/leaves the Household.
2) Anyone can join your Household, they just need to have the same address as the Head of Household on file in their Executive Club account. Your address on file can be changed at any time, free of charge.
3) When awards are booked, the miles will be pulled proportionately from each member’s account. For example, if there are 4 members in the household:
Tom: 35,000 miles, 42% of total Household miles
Dick (Head of Household): 19,000 miles, 23% of total Household miles
Harry: 15,000 miles, 18% of total Household miles
Sally: 14,000 miles, 17% of total Household miles
Collectively the Household has 83,000 miles. Harry and Sally decide they both want to go from New York to Buenos Aires on spring break, but neither of them have the 40,000 miles needed for the coach award on American Airlines. Under most loyalty programs, they’d still be short and would be stuck paying fees to transfer miles between accounts. However, since the Household has enough collective miles to book two 40,000 awards, they have nothing to worry about. They can simply log in to their British Airways account and book the awards and the 80,000 miles (which is 96.39% of the total Household’s mileage balance) would come proportionately from each account. So to see how many points they’d each be left with simply take the leftover balance (3,000) and multiple it by each of their % ownership of the account.
Tom: 1,260 miles, 42% of total Household miles
Dick (Head of Household): 690 miles, 23% of total Household miles
Harry: 540 miles, 18% of total Household miles
Sally: 510 miles, 17% of total Household miles
Remaining balance = 3,000 miles
The good thing is, this process is automated, so no long division required.
While the Household account is free, British Airways did put some rules in place to limit abuse:
1) You can only book awards for people in your Household. This is probably the biggest thing to note; what you gain in flexibility to pool miles, you lose in ability to redeem for anyone else. The one exception to this is the 2 for 1 companion certificate, which you get after spending $30,000 in a calendar year on the Chase Visa (more on that in a future post).
2) Once it’s created, you can only add/delete members every 6 months. Household accounts were not created so you could pool miles with random people. The intention is that it’s with your immediate household, though they leave the interpretation of who qualifies as a Household member up to the Head of Household, which is generous.
3) You can disband a Household Account at any time, but you can’t re-create another for 6 months
4) Suspicious activity will be flagged and remember – BA can take all of your miles away at any time. Pressing your luck with a fraudulent Household Account isn’t worth it.
5) Only people 18+ can redeem for awards. If the Household Account is disbanded, all miles of minors go to the head of household.
6) Only redeemable miles are pooled. Each member still continues to earn elite points individually.
7) Like regular BA miles, Household miles expire after 36 months of no activity (though its very easy to keep accounts active, especially if you have the BA Visa).
I recommend reading the rules on Household accounts before signing up for one. If you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer since I am currently a Head of my BA Household Account – oh the power!