If you’ve gotten quite a bit of rewards and miles stocked up from your previous travels, then don’t let them go to waste. In the travel rewards world, many points and miles have expiration dates.
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In our guide, we will go over the six easy ways to keep your rewards active. This will help keep the rewards you earned stay active so you can use them towards your next dream vacation.
When Do Points & Miles Expire?
There are plenty of rewards programs out there and they all have varying expirations depending on the period of inactivity, often two or three years. So, if you go 24 or 36 months without earning or redeeming points or miles, you will lose them.
Each program has their own expiration policy. Some are going to be more restrictive than others while others are going to be more easy-going. Below, you will find a list of the most popular airline and hotel programs with their points and miles expiration details.
|AIRLINE||EXPIRATION TERM||CAN EXTEND WITH ACTIVITY?|
|Aeromexico||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|Air Canada||12 months from last activity||Yes|
|Air France/KLM||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|Alaska Airlines||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|Alitalia||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|American Airlines||18 months from last activity||Yes|
|ANA||36 months from earning||No|
|British Airways||36 months from last activity||Yes|
|Cathay Pacific||36 months from earning||No|
|Emirates||3 years from earning||No|
|Etihad||24 months from earning||No|
|Hawaiian Airlines||18 months from last activity||Yes|
|Iberia||36 months from last activity||Yes|
|JAL||36 months from earning||No|
|Korean Air||10 years from earning||No|
|Lufthansa||36 month from earning*||No|
|Qantas||18 months with no activity||Yes|
|Singapore Airlines||36 months from earning||Yes|
|Southwest||24 months with no earning activity||No|
|United Airlines||No expiration||–|
|Virgin Atlantic||36 months with no activity||Yes|
*No expiration with a cobranded card or elite status.
|AIRLINE||EXPIRATION TERM||CAN EXTEND WITH ACTIVITY?|
|Accorhotels||No expiration with activity once a year||Yes|
|Best Western||No expiration||–|
|Choice Hotels||18 months from last activity||Yes|
|Hilton Hotels||12 months from last activity||Yes|
|Hyatt Hotels||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|IHG||12 months from last activity*||Yes|
|Marriott Hotels||24 months from last activity**||No|
|Radisson Hotels||24 months from last activity||Yes|
|Wyndham Hotels||18 months with no activity
& 4 years overall
*No expiration for elite members.
**No expiration for Lifetime Elite members.
As you can see, some programs allow any activity to extend your rewards’ expiration. Other programs don’t allow any extensions, period.
We love the programs that don’t have any expiration on their rewards, because you’ll never have to worry about losing your points or miles. That includes Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, United Airlines and Best Western Rewards.
6 Easy Ways To Keep Your Points & Miles Active
There are plenty of options out there in terms of keeping your miles and points active, but here we will focus on what we think are the six best and easiest ways to do so. Keep in mind, you will want to give yourself a couple of months before your rewards expire, so there is enough time for the new activity to post to your account.
The best way to keep your points and miles active is to book an eligible flight or by completing an eligible stay with a partner airline or hotel chain. For most airline and hotel programs, redeeming is also considered a valid way to extend the lifetime of your rewards.
Keep your account active by donating your rewards to charity. The points or miles that you earn can be withdrawn from your account immediately, meaning you will extend the expiration date of your remaining balance the moment you click the confirm button. This is a good solution if your rewards are set to expire in one or two days.
Some loyalty programs out there will waive their expiration dates if you are a cardholder of one of their cobranded credit cards. For example, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card gives you automatic IHG Platinum status. At this elite tier, your points will never expire. Likewise, if you spend with your card, you maybe able to keep your account active.
Most hotels and airliners have their own dining program. All you have to do is link your credit card to the dining network, and you will get points or miles whenever you make a purchase at one of their partner restaurants. Keep your account active just by eating out a partner restaurant, even if it’s just a cup of coffee.
Online shopping portals let you earn miles by clicking through to a participating merchant when making an online purchase. This might be the easiest option to keep your account active, because any purchase – even a music download or a movie rental – counts.
Another option is to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Capital One® Rewards, Citi ThankYou® Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards®. We recommend transferring the least amount possible. For most programs, that limit is 1,000 points.
If you don’t have a credit card with transferable points, you can convert points from most hotel programs, including Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and Wyndham Rewards. These exchange rates aren’t the best, but it’s a good option to keep your miles from expiring.
CoBranded Credit Cards
As mentioned above, using cobranded credit cards in any way can waive rewards expirations on select loyalty programs.
The United Explorer Card offers 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
• Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases
• Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
Perks of this card include:
• Getting up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS fee credit
• Get your first bag checked for free (up to $140 savings per roundtrip). Terms apply.
• Get priority boarding perks & visit the United Club with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
• 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks
• Get one-year complimentary DashPass, a membership for both DoorDash and Caviar that provides unlimited deliveries with $0 delivery fees and lower service fees on eligible orders. After that, you are automatically enrolled in DashPass at the current monthly rate. Activate by 12/31/24.
This card does come with a $95 annual fee, however, the annual fee is waived for the first year.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card offers 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
Earn up to 60,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) With Status Boost per year. You can earn 15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to four times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status.
You can earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases & 1X mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
This card does come with a $550 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Seems hefty but perks like being able to check your first bag free on Delta flights. In addition, you can enjoy complimentary access into the Delta SkyClubs for you when travelling on a Delta flight, complimentary access to The Centurion Lounge when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card., fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. (See Rates & Fees)
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
In addition, you'll earn 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
• Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases.
• Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
• Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
You're able to redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more.
This card does carry a $99 annual fee, but there are no foreign transaction fee.
The IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers 140,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
You'll earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
This card offers several perks that you'll sure enjoy like: an Anniversary Free Night at IHG Hotels & Resorts (plus, enjoy a reward night when you redeem points for a consecutive four-night IHG hotel stay) And as long as you're a cardmember, you'll have Platinum Elite status.
You'll get Global Entry or TSA Pre?®, or NEXUS Statement Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
There is an annual fee of $99.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card offers 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy through 1/31/24. Offer ends 8/9/2023.
Each Card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
With this card, you'll earn:
• 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy program
• 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
• 2X points on all other eligible purchases
• $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each Card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
A Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member will earn 50% more points on eligible purchases at participating hotels for each U.S. dollar or the currency equivalent that is incurred and paid for by the member.
Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through any Authorized Enrollment Provider for TSA PreCheck (up to $85) when you pay the application fee with an eligible Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
$100 Luxury Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
This card comes with a $650 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. However, you can receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy(R). Certain hotels have resort fees. (See Rates & Fees)
Furthermore, enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass Select membership.
Reinstating Expired Points & Miles
Let’s consider that your account has already expired, what can you do? Is there any way you can salvage your points and miles? That all depends on the program. Some airlines and hotel chains will let you reinstate your rewards, but for a fee. It is up to you to decide whether or not the reinstatement fee is worth the expires points or miles.
Knowing when your points or miles expire is key to keeping them active. Using this guide can show you some easy ways that you can keep your account from expiring and how to get the most out of your loyalty program. While expiration policies will differ from each loyalty program, most require some activity in a set period of time. Use a cobranded credit card to easily keep your account active!
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