Creating a British Airways household account is a simple, relatively painless process that I personally thinks makes a lot of sense for many families. I was recommending a friend do this for himself and his wife the other day so thought I’d do a quick refresher on why you might want to create a household account and how to do it.
Pros and Cons of a Household Account
For the unfamiliar, a BA Household account gives you the ability to pool miles with another member of your household living at the same address. This is particularly useful when you have miles split up between spouse/family accounts, since you can minimize “orphaned” miles.
Example: my wife wants to take a flight from Boston to Charlotte that will cost her 7500 Avios. She only has 6000 Avios, while I have 3000. If our accounts are separate, we cannot book this ticket without transferring or buying more Avios. However, if we create a household account, we can book the tickets since we have 9000 Avios total between the two of us.
In my experience BA takes a proportional number of miles from each account (so in this case it would be something like 2475 from me and 5025 from my wife). Don’t quote me on that last part though, I never really do the math because it doesn’t matter – in a household account Jess’ miles are mine and vice versa.
I think this has become particularly important due to Chase and AMEX’s more stringent point transfer policies. For Chase, you can still get around transferring to non-spouses (though I personally would never do this), but for AMEX, you can’t transfer to a spouse’s frequent flyer account unless they are an authorized user on the card. This is a problem if, like me, you only have an AMEX Platinum card which costs a whopping $175 to add an AU.
In my example above, if we had separate accounts, I would not be able to transfer the 1500 extra Jess needs to her account because she isn’t an authorized user on my AMEX card. Thus, to book her the ticket, I’d have to transfer 4500 to myself – wasted points. This is why I love the household account. You can even book tickets for people outside the household as long as you designate them as a “family/friend”.
The cons of a household account exist mainly for people who try to game the system. Technically, everyone whose miles are being pooled needs to live at the same address (though family/friends do not). That means members of your household can use your miles at anytime to book their own travel. But you really shouldn’t be creating a household account with anyone you don’t trust.
Also if you are pooling with people not living at your house, I guess there is some risk that you get “caught in the lie” and get in trouble, but I doubt it.
The biggest con is not being able to book tickets for people outside your household or circle of family/friends, but in reality this is not big deal. You can have up to 7 people total in your household plus 5 family/friends who you can book tickets for but who do not pool their miles (this didn’t use to exist so at the time it was a real con). Anyone you add to either list must remain for six months. So I guess if you have than 12 people you are booking tickets for, this is a real con, otherwise, I think household accounts are a no brainer.
Another con that is easy to work around is the fact that “Executive Club Members must be 18 years or older before they can spend their Avios”. To get around that, I just designated M as a family/friend and not a member of our household (otherwise her miles are just stuck and wasted in our household account, though I guess they are stuck and wasted regardless. What kind of policy is that!?).
Oh and one more important thing to note is each individual member of a household earns Avios and tier points in the same manner as they always have.
Creating the Household Account
Creating a household account could not be simpler. Log in to your BA account and navigate to Executive Club => Household Accounts. From there you will be basically taken to a page listing most of the stuff I went through without the lovely commentary.
After that it’s simple, click the “create household account”, and then nominate members. You’ll need their Executive Club number (if they have one) and last name. If they don’t have an Executive Club number yet, you’ll have to include their e-mail address and they will be sent an Executive Club sign up form.
Then you’re all set! You can start using your pooled miles immediately, like I did for my parents after a couple of fails. You’ll also notice when you manage your account that you’ll see two pools of Avios: “My Avios” and “My Household Account Avios”. At this point, all that matters is the latter.
I’m sure most of you have one of these already, but just wanted to make sure everyone has set up this super useful feature with British Airways. Honestly, at this point I can’t think of any real downside – though my jetlag is hitting hard so who knows how my brain is functioning at the moment. But I think in most cases this will make sense. And don’t forget AMEX has an Avios transfer bonus until 1/31/15 if you’re thinking of going somewhere soon!