Credit card holders could lose their Airmiles

16 February 2009 / by Rachel Mason
Millions of people face losing all the Airmiles they have collected through buying with their credit cards and shopping online if they fail to collect any in the next six months.

Airmiles – the UK's longest-running loyalty programme – has written to 1.7 million customers who have 500 Airmiles or more but have not collected any in the past two years, telling them that if they do not collect at least one Airmile in the next six months, their accounts will be closed and they will lose any Airmiles they have accrued.

The company's actions have angered customers, and Simon Calder, the Independent's travel editor likening the move to banks closing savers' current accounts through lack of activity.

Mr Calder told the BBC: "That's a bit like having a bank account where you're told, 'Ah, well, you haven't put any money in it for a couple of years so we've closed it down and kept your money.'"

Around six million people in the UK hold an Airmiles account and can collect Airmiles in a range of ways, commonly by using an Airmiles credit card, but also for other every-day purchases, for online shopping, buying petrol and on certain mortgage deals. Once collected, Airmiles can be redeemed for flights.

Up until now, Airmiles customers have been safe in the knowledge that their loyalty points have no expiry date, but now, the British Airways-owned scheme has imposed a deadline on its customers telling them that their accounts will be closed and the value lost unless they collect again within the time limit.

But Airmiles, which recently launched a TV campaign about the benefits of the scheme, says that the majority of members who regularly collected Airmiles did not have to do anything and the move had resulted in a positive response from thousands of customers who hadn’t been collecting to start again.

Airmiles also said that the deadline gives people who feel that the scheme is no longer for them the opportunity still to use their miles during the next six months before their account expires.

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