Household accounts (HHAs), are a good way of combining Avios from multiple accounts for redemptions. There is however, quite a lot of confusion surrounding them. This is exacerbated by the fact that there are actually two types of Avios household accounts with different rules; one is available on avios.com and the other on ba.com.
I am going to shed some light on both versions and clear up any uncertainty about which one allows you to do what – with some interesting quirks thrown in along the way.
Why would I want a household account?
There are two key reasons why anyone would want to open a HHA:
They allow members to combine their Avios without having to pay costly transfer fees.
They enable under 18’s to earn Avios and elite status
There could be any number of scenarios where you require more Avios than you have in your account at the present time. Being able to pool your miles with a partner or other family member(s) is probably the quickest way to top up your account immediately for that last-minute redemption.
Ordinarily, combining the Avios from two accounts is a costly business. BA will charge you up to £175 for the privilege. And while you can transfer a maximum of 162,000 Avios in a calendar year, transfers per individual member are capped at 27,000. That amount isn’t going to get you very far if you are after a last-minute Club World redemption somewhere.
Under Executive Club rules, under 18’s cannot have their own standalone British Airways Executive Club account. If a child is part of a HHA however, they are able to accrue both Avios points and tier points which count towards elite status.
Note: The above is only possible for children over 3 years of age, unless you have booked them their own seat.
The ba.com version
This HHA variant allows you to create an account with up to six additional family members whose Executive Club accounts are registered at the same address as yours.
Unlike the avios.com HHA which I analyse below, members still retain an individual balance and will be able to see both their own balance and the HHA balance when viewing their Executive Club account.
Traditionally the key disadvantage of being in a ba.com HHA was that you were limited to redeeming Avios only for the six other members of your HHA. This placed severe restrictions on many who enjoyed the flexibility of using their Avios to book tickets for anyone.
To ease this slightly, BA added the ability to create a ‘Family and Friends’ list a few years back. This allows you redeem Avios for an additional 5 specified Executive Club members who don’t need to share the same address as you and their Avios will not be pooled into the HHA.
Any Avios earned while part of a ba.com HHA will still be attributed to your individual balance, unlike the avios.com version.
There is a fairly complex system of calculating how many Avios are taken from each member’s account when a redemption is made from the HHA.
In short, the Avios will be taken pro-rata from each member’s account according to the sum of their overall contribution to the Avios total in the account.
For example, Alex has contributed 100,000 (50%) of the total 200,000 HHA Avios balance. When a redemption is made, 50% of the Avios required will be taken from Alex’s individual balance and the rest from the other household members.
How to open one
You can open one by visiting the Household account page on ba.com here.
There are several important facts to be aware of:
- Only the nominated ‘Head of Household’ will be able to make changes to the account.
- Changes can ONLY be made once every six months – this includes removing members – so think carefully before doing this.
- If you have a 2-4-1 voucher you will only be able to use it with a person who is either part of your HHA or on your ‘Friends and Family’ list.
How to close one
You can do this online, but remember that you will need to wait a minimum of six months from creating the HHA to closing it. This is because opening the account will have constituted a ‘change’ and changes are only permitted once every six months (as above).
The avios.com version
This model sees all of the Avios accounts being combined into one larger pile. When you log in to your account you will only see the combined total but not how much each individual member possesses currently.
It isn’t clear if there is a restriction on the number of members that can be part of an avios.com HHA.
Since you will only be able to view a combined household total, any Avios earned will simply be added to the general pot, with no differentiation as to which member earned them.
This is a key difference, say you require 120,000 Avios for a peak Club World redemption to New York – that amount will be deducted from the overall total.
How to open one
Simply login at avios.com and visit the “Your Account” section. There will be an option under “Manage my account” to “Create a Household account”. Follow the prompts from there and the household account will be up and running within a couple of minutes.
How to close one – opportunity calls?
The process is really straightforward – visit this page on the avios.com website and download/fill in this PDF. In the past, this form had to be posted to Avios, but they now permit a scanned email copy. On the only occasion I have had to this, I had an email confirmation within 24 hours that the account had been split.
An interesting quirk is that the form allows you to specify exactly how many Avios should be redistributed to each member. There is nothing stopping you requesting 100% of the HHA to go to one member. This immediately presents some interesting leverage opportunities…
Unlike the BA version, there is no 6-month restriction on how long you must wait to make a change to the HHA.
Any other interesting quirks to be aware of?
- No status sharing – If you share a HHA with a BA Gold member for example, this does not entitle you to lounge access, extra baggage etc.
- Combine my Avios issues – HHAs cause notorious issues for those trying to use the ‘Combine my Avios’ tool that allows you to move Avios freely between ba.com/avios.com and Iberia Plus. The official line seems to be that BA HHAs retain the ability to use this function whereas avios.com HHAs do not.
- Kids can’t redeem on their own – Although HHAs are a good method of allowing kids to ‘have their own’ Executive Club account, they cannot make their own redemptions. This has to be done by the Head of Household.
- Automatic closing of kids accounts – When you close a ba.com HHA containing kids, their accounts are automatically shut down. This is because they cannot function as standalone accounts of course. Interestingly, when this happens, any Avios they may have accumulated are automatically allocated to the Head of Household’s account. Again, this has the making for some interesting opportunities…
Personally, I don’t use a household account. I don’t like the idea of restricting myself to redeeming Avios solely for the members of my HHA (+the Family & Friends list).
I like the avios.com HHA in that it can be closed at any point without any time restrictions. That said, if your sole reason for creating a HHA is to allow your kids to accumulate Avios, you would need a ba.com HHA of course.
One way round that issue would be to put your kids in a household account with your partner/other family member. That way they can still earn Avios and Tier points, while you retain the flexibility when redeeming Avios.