When you get into Travel Hacking, you’ll begin to earn valuable points and miles. It’s not unusual to have a variety of different types of reward currencies on hand to use toward future travel. However, did you know that those precious miles and points can expire. Let’s dive into points and miles expiration to learn how you can keep those hard-earned points and miles. We’ll look at each of the three broad categories of credit card points and miles.
Fixed Value Points
Anyone who has been a loyal reader of this blog knows that I cherish my Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. These points are known as fixed value points. They are earned by using a specific bank’s credit card. You’ll earn a certain number of points per dollar spent. Redeem your points in the bank’s travel rewards portal. You can also transfer these points to travel partners. These points can be used towards airfare, hotel, rental card and other types of travel.
Other examples of fixed value points are American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Rewards and Bank of America Travel Rewards. These points are tied to the specific credit card on which you earn the points. The points won’t expire as long as you keep the credit card account active. By active, I mean that the credit card account is open, you use it at least once a year and pay any annual fees if required.
I value these fixed value points so highly because you can use them in the credit card travel portal to pay for all kinds of travel. Often though, the best value comes from transferring to travel partners like airlines and hotels. It’s always good to have this type of point on hand.
When it comes to Airline miles, there are almost as many miles earning credit cards as there are airlines. A few examples are the AAdvantage Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United Mileage Plus miles programs. In general, these types of points can only be redeemed for flights. They can be redeemed on the specific airline attached to the credit card. Often, you can redeem miles/points on partner airlines within the same airline alliance. Read more about airline alliances in this post: Avoid These Three Mistakes.
Each airline has its own guidelines on how and when points/miles expire. As of this writing, Delta, Southwest and United are three of a handful of airlines miles/points programs with no expiration date.
In most cases, if you keep the airline miles credit card open and actively spend on the card, your points won’t expire. Taking a flight and redeeming miles/points is another way to keep your points/miles from expiring. Some airlines have shopping programs/portals where you can earn airline points. That’s yet another avenue to keep your points active. Take a look at this list to see the expiration information for most airlines.
List of Airline Miles/Points Longevity
Aeromexico 24 months
Air Canada 12 months
Alitalia 24 months
Alaska 24 months
American 18 months
ANA 36 months
British Airways 36 months
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) 36 months
Delta never expire
Emirates 3 years but no way to extend
Etihad 24 months no way to extend
Flying Blue: Air France/KLM 24 months
Frontier 6 months
Hawaiian 18 months
Iberia 36 months
JAL 36 months no way to extend
Jet Blue never expire
Korean Air 10 years no way to extend
Lufthansa 36 mos no way to extend. If you have co-branded credit card or elite status there is no expiration
Quanta 18 mos
Singapore 36 mos no way to extend
Southwest never expire
Spirit 3 months
United never expire
Virgin Atlantic 36 months
Hotel Rewards Points
If you have a hotel points earning credit card such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, Hilton Honors or World of Hyatt, using the credit card for a purchase is often all you need to do to keep the points active. Hotel stays and points redemption also keep your points active. The expiration of points is much like with airlines as discussed above. Here is a list of the most popular hotel programs.
Best Western never expire
Choice Privileges 18 months
Hilton 12 months
IHG (Intercontinental Hotels) 12 months
LeClub Accor 12 months
Marriott 24 months
Radisson 24 months
World of Hyatt 24 months
Wyndham 18 months and 48 months after earned regardless of activity
Rental Car Agencies
Some readers may be curious about rental card loyalty points. Here is a list of expiration rules:
Avis 12 months then 5 years regardless of activity
Dollar 24 months
Enterprise never as long as you rent once every 3 years
Hertz 18 months
National no expiration. “Free Day” credits must be used by December 31st of the following year.
Thrifty 24 months
Finally, I thought I’d include Amtrak for those who are collecting Amtrak Guest Reward points. With Amtrak, guest rewards points expire after 24 months.
So there you have it! The points and miles expiration information to keep you on top of all of your travel hacking game. The best advice I can give you though is to use your points and miles and get out and see the world. Happy travels!
Have you ever had points and or miles expire? Scroll down and leave a comment to tell us about it.