Don’t let possible free travel go to waste! Unfortunately, in the travel rewards world, most points and miles have expiration dates.
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In this guide, we’ll cover six easy ways to keep your rewards active. So you can continue to stock up on rewards towards your next dream vacation.
When Do Points & Miles Expire?
Most rewards programs have currencies that expire after a period of inactivity, often two or three years. So if 24 or 36 months go by without you earning – or sometimes redeeming – points or miles, you’ll lose them.
Each program has their own expiration policy. Some are more restrictive while others are more lenient. Below you’ll find a list of the most popular airline and hotel programs with 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||No|
|Southwest||24 months with no earning activity||Yes|
|United Airlines||No expiration||–|
|Virgin Atlantic||36 months with no activity||Yes|
*No expiration with a cobranded card or elite status.
|HOTEL CHAIN||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**||Yes|
|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.
***We independently collected information from public sources to form our best partner redemptions. This information is subject to change without notice.
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
You have plenty of options to keep your points and miles from expiring, but we’ll only focus on six of the easiest ways below. Keep in mind, you’ll want to give yourself a couple of months before your rewards expire, so there’s enough time for the new activity to post to your account.
The most obvious way to keep your rewards active is by taking an eligible flight or by completing an eligible stay with the applicable airline or hotel chain.
For most airline and hotel programs, redeeming is also considered a valid activity to extend the lifetime of rewards. If so, booking an award flight or stay will also keep your account active.
You can also keep your account active by donating your rewards to charity. The points or miles are generally withdrawn from your account immediately, meaning you’ll extend the expiration date of your remaining account balance the moment you click the confirm button. This is the perfect solution if your rewards are expiring in a day or two.
Some loyalty programs waive rewards expiration if you hold 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.
You can also keep your account active by spending with a cobranded card. For example, a $1 purchase on the The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® will add a mile to your AAdvantage balance and extend your expiration date at the end of your billing cycle.
Most airlines and hotel chains have their own dining program. Simply link your credit card to the dining network, and you’ll get points or miles when you make a purchase at participating restaurants. Keep your account active just by eating out at a partner restaurant, even if it’s just a cup of coffee! Rewards earned this way usually post within a week.
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 previously mentioned, Some loyalty programs waive rewards expiration if you hold one of their cobranded credit cards.
Here are some cobranded credit cards to consider.
Reinstating Expired Points & Miles
What if your account is past expiration? Is there anything you can do to salvage your points or miles? Depending on the program, there might still be hope. Some airlines and hotel chains will let you reinstate your rewards, but for a fee. For example:
- Alaska Airlines will reinstate miles up to one year after expiration. The fee is $75.
- American Airlines will reinstate miles that expired after 2002. The fee ranges from $40 to $2,000 and depends on the number of miles you want to reinstate.
It’s up to you to decide whether or not paying the reinstatement fee is worth getting back the points or miles you lost.
Being fully informed, including knowing when your rewards expire and how to keep them active, is essential to getting the most out of a loyalty program. While expiration policies might differ from one program to the next, most require some qualifying activity in a set period of time.
With this guide, we hope you’re armed and ready to keep your points or miles from expiring.