Today, we will delve into when the banks and airlines can completely terminate your membership and what happens to your points if they do.
Sorry to be a downer – we hope noone ever gets into a situation where account closure is an issue. But forewarned is forearmed!
Bank Rewards programs right to terminate your membership
As we mentioned in previous articles, there are many sets of terms and conditions that govern your interactions with the banks. In this article we have looked into the Rewards Programs terms and conditions, but these often refer to your specific credit card’s terms and conditions.
When it comes to terminating memberships, all of the banks reserve the right to kick you out if you breach the terms and conditions of the credit card you have. Obviously these will all be different, and we won’t be covering them here, but they are all likely to have some of these basic provisions in common.
There are too many possible breaches to list here, so we will cover a few of the more likely scenarios.
Missing payments (default) and fraud
If you miss your minimum payments, your account will be in default and you will be in breach of your credit card agreement, which gives banks the right to terminate your rewards account.
The extent of the default required to terminate your rewards membership varies from bank to bank and not all of them specify. We’ve made a table of the banks that specify the period of default that will let them terminate your membership.
|Bank||Period of default before bank can terminate|
|Commonwealth Bank||30 days past due|
|Westpac||Two statements in a row|
|American Express||3 months|
Any fraud will also mean the bank can terminate your membership.
The period of default that gives ANZ the right to terminate your account is not specified, so arguably it is any default.
When it comes to fraud, your membership can also be cancelled if you fail to notify them of any fraudulent transactions once you become aware of them.
A notable feature of ANZ rewards is that if you do fall foul of any of these rules and your membership gets terminated, you will be given 60 days to use up your rewards before they are cancelled.
Commbank’s terms allow them to terminate your membership for ‘abuse of the awards’. This is a pretty vague statement and we have no idea what sort of behaviour they are trying to catch with it, but it is in there.
Apart from that, they have the usual default and fraud provisions, as well as the power to terminate your membership if you breach your credit card’s terms.
One of those terms which is worth noting is that you cannot receive any payment for transferring points to another person, so be weary when sending points to friends and family.
If you’re stung, Commbank gives you three months to use your points after your account has been terminated.
Westpac Altitude Rewards
If you earn points on business purchases with an Altitude card this will count as breaching the terms and conditions and will give Westpac the right to terminate your membership.
Altitude will also refuse to pay you any points or let you redeem any rewards if you are in default by two statements. But this alone doesn’t necessarily give them the right to cancel your membership and take points balances.
When it comes to cancellation, NAB seems to be pretty brutal. Their terms state that…
“NAB may cancel a card or close an account or both at any time without notice. Examples of when NAB may do this include, but are not limited to, when you are in default.”
There is no mention of letting members use up their rewards in the event that their membership is terminated.
Citibank & Citi Rewards
Citibank’s right to terminate is centered on default. If your account is in default, any default at all, Citibank will have the right to terminate your membership.
With broad powers like this, it is difficult to say when Citibank would choose to use this discretion. If you have any experience or knowledge on this, let us know in the comments.
If you do get terminated by Citibank, you lose your points immediately.
American Express & Membership Rewards
Similarly, American Express doesn’t give you any time to use your points if they cancel your membership.
However, their default period is quite generous. They will only have the power to terminate your account if it has been in default for 3 months. After three months however, it seems that any points you earned during that time will be automatically forfeited.
Like Commbank, American Express also refers to ‘abuse’ of the points program as a reason for termination. Again, no further explanation about what this means, so potentially quite broad.
Frequent Flyer Program rights to terminate your membership
Airlines are obviously concerned about different things than banks, so their reasons for terminating your membership are very different.
One thing in common with banks though is fraud, any fraud will get your membership terminated with all of the airlines and banks.
Apart from that, the other main trend when it comes to airlines terminating members is inactivity.
Breaching your frequent flyer programs terms and conditions
Not surprisingly, your airline rewards program will also be terminated if you breach any of the terms and conditions of that agreement.
These breaches can include things like selling, bartering or transferring your benefits other than in the way you are allowed, or double claiming status credits.
As with bank rewards programs, airline rewards memberships will be cancelled if a member commits misconduct or fraud.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Krisflyer members can have their membership terminated if, Singapore Airlines thinks they have misbehaved at an airport or on any flight with any airline.
‘Misbehaviour’ seems to be pretty serious stuff like verbal or physical abuse of an airline employee or passenger and damage to property. But it’s not limited to that.
Krisflyer will also terminate due to inactivity. If you haven’t used your account within 18 months of opening it, it will be cancelled. It will also be terminated if you don’t use your account in 39 months.
Why 39 months? Why, indeed.
Asia Miles has decided to go with 36 months. 36 months of no activity and your account will be cancelled. Asia Miles makes the note of mentioning that you won’t be notified when your account is closed.
They can also terminate your membership “at its complete discretion” but if they decide to do that you will get three to six months notice so you can use your miles.
Virgin Australia Velocity Rewards
Virgin will not close your account due to inactivity, but your points will expire after 3 years if your account becomes inactive.
Virgin will only terminate your account if you are in breach of their terms and conditions, or if they think you are. If they decide to do this they will try to give you 14 days notice.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas also does not mention closing accounts due to inactivity, but they will again take your points away if you leave your account inactive.
Instead, Qantas will only consider terminating memberships if there is a ‘material breach’ of their terms and conditions, or if you fail to pay them money you owe under Qantas Club, Frequent Flyer or Aquire.
But there is no need to stress if you are someone who has missed a payment or two in the past. If Qantas plans on cancelling your membership they will let you know and give you 21 days to fix your breach.
Summing Up – play within the rules, make your payments and you’ll get to keep your points (probably)
Banks and airlines can terminate your membership to a rewards program if you breach their terms and conditions.
When it comes to banks, they are most concerned with your account being in default. The period of default that gives a bank the right to terminate varies from one bank to another. Some banks will let you use up your points if they terminate your account, but not all of them.
Airlines are more concerned with inactivity than default, since most of them do not charge for membership.
Qantas however will terminate your account if you fail to pay any money you owe them, but you will get 21 days to repay it before your account is closed.
And of course, both airlines and banks will terminate your account if they reasonably suspect that fraud has occurred.