Points and Miles Expiration

Points and Miles can expire.  Learn the ins and outs of points and miles expiration for Travel hacking.
Points and Miles Expiration

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.

Airline Miles/Points

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.

Rules Vary

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.

Time's Up. Points and Miles Expiration explained for Travel Hacking.
Time’s Up

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.

5 Top Travel Credit Cards

I love traveling for pennies on the dollar using credit card points and miles. The question I get asked most often is; “Which credit card should I apply for?” The answer almost always requires me to ask a few questions. Those questions help me better understand the needs of the person traveling. For the most part though, there are certain travel hacking credit cards that come up time and time again. So, here are my 5 top travel credit cards for the beginner travel hacker.

Travel Credit Card Number One

For most people getting started, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is my absolute favorite first travel credit card. There are many reasons I recommend this card.

  • Currently it has a sign up bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed in the Chase Travel Portal
  • Earn 2 x points on all Travel and Dining
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad
  • The annual fee is only $95

As a starter travel hacking credit card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can’t be beat. The 60,000 bonus points at sign up are worth $750 at a minimum. By transferring them to Chase airline and hotel partners, you can stretch those points even further. I did this on my trip to Norway and got a value of 10 cents per point on my business class fare on Lufthansa. Also, you get the additional perk of travel and purchase coverage. All of the above makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred a great first travel hacking credit card.

Travel Credit Card Number Two

I’ve written about why I like business credit cards so much as a travel hacker. However if you think that you don’t have a business, you might be surprised at what counts as a business for the purpose of applying for business credit cards.

Have you ever sold something on Etsy, eBay or Amazon? How about a little side gig playing or teaching music? Do you board or walk dogs? What about babysitting and tutoring students? Do you own a rental property or rent out a room on Airbnb? How about selling tickets on StubHub? Maybe you drive occasionally for Lyft, Uber, Door Dash or GrubHub… There are lots of business activities that qualify you for a business credit card.

Now that we got that out of the way let me tell you about my favorite business credit card. It’s the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card.

  • Currently it has a sign up bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed in the Chase Travel Portal
  • You can combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points from this card with those earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and or Reserve cards
  • Earn 3 x points on all Travel, Shipping, Internet, Cable, Phone and Advertising spending on Social Media and Internet
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad
  • Get Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Get up to $600 per claim in coverage for cell phone loss and damage
  • The annual fee is only $95

Need I say more? As with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can get greater points value by transferring them to Chase airline and hotel partners. This card has a permanent spot in my wallet.

Travel Credit Card Number Three

For now, let’s stick with business cards. Chase has another excellent business credit card. Travel credit card number three is the Chase Ink Business Unlimited credit card. Here are the reasons this is a great credit card:

  • Currently it has a sign up bonus of $500 cash back equal to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when you combine your points from this card with those earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and or the Chase Ink Business Preferred cards
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 x points on all purchases
  • Get Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Get Purchase Protection against damage or theft
  • Receive Auto Collision Damage Waiver protection
  • The is no annual fee

The fact that there is no annual fee with this card makes it a great card to keep long term. Use your Chase Ink Business Unlimited card to earn 1.5 x points on spending that usually earns only 1 x points with other Chase credit cards.

Travel Credit Card Number Four

Can you tell that I have a love affair with Chase credit cards as well as business credit cards? If you can’t qualify for business credit cards, this next one is for you. It’s the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card. This is a personal credit card from Chase.

  • Currently it has a sign up bonus of $200 cash back equal to 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when you combine your points from this card with those earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and or the Chase Ink Business Preferred cards
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 x points on all purchases
  • Get Purchase Protection against damage or theft
  • Receive Extended Warranty Coverage of one additional year
  • The is no annual fee

Again, use this card to earn 1.5 x points to fill in those points earning gaps from other Chase credit cards. We’ve got one more Chase credit card to round out my 5 top travel credit cards.

Travel Credit Card Number Five

I’m sticking with Chase credit cards with this final credit card. This card is also a personal credit card for those who don’t qualify for business credit cards. It’s the Chase Freedom Credit Card a relative of my number four pick credit card.

This credit card has a unique points earning opportunity. Each quarter of the year, you have the opportunity to earn 5 x points in specific categories. In the past, these included, gas stations, grocery stores, department stores and movie theaters. You must register to participate each quarter. Here is the list of perks with this card:

  • Currently it has a sign up bonus of $200 cash back equal to 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are worth 1.25 cents each when you combine your points from this card with those earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and or the Chase Ink Business Preferred cards
  • Earn 5 x points on all purchases in rotating quarterly categories up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter
  • Earn unlimited 1 x points on all purchases
  • Get Purchase Protection against damage or theft
  • Receive Extended Warranty Coverage of one additional year
  • The is no annual fee

This is a great no annual fee credit card to round out your wallet. The biggest benefit it offers is the ability to maximize bonus category spending at 5 x points. This card is on my list to add to my personal wallet.

There You Have It

We’ve come to the end of my 5 top travel credit cards list. There are many more great cards out there. I have more to recommend to you. If you already have one or more of these cards and are looking for your next card, please reach out to me. I am here to help you.

Do you have a favorite travel credit card not listed? Scroll down and leave a comment and tell us which one it is and why you love it so much.

Note that some links in this post are referral links. This means I get rewarded (usually with points/miles) if you apply for and are approved for a credit card. It does not cost you anything to use my referral links but helps me maintain this blog.

The Travel Credit Cards in My Wallet

Part Two

If you have not read Part One of this series, you can find it here:

My Travel Hacking Credit Cards

A while back, I wrote Part One of My Travel Hacking Credit Cards. Today, I show you and explain why I got the rest of the travel credit cards in my wallet. Settle in as there are currently 9 more travel hacking credit cards to tell you about.

Close a Travel Card

In June of 2018, I learned that Marriott and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) would merge into one points program. Note that Ritz Carlton also merged into the newly named Marriott Bonvoy program. For that reason, I chose to close my SPG American Express Business credit card. As it was a business credit card, closing it did not lower my credit score.

The points I had accumulated in the SPG program were converted at a rate of 1 SPG to 3 Marriott Bonvoy Points. I wound up with over 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when I converted the SPG points.

Open a New Marriott Bonvoy Card

I like to apply for business credit rather than personal travel credit cards whenever possible. Most, but not all, business credit cards do not show up on your credit report. Marriott has such a large variety of hotels that I wanted to accumulate more Marriott Bonvoy points. When I closed my SPG American Express card, I opened the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus credit card.

The card came with a 50,000 point sign up bonus after a minimum spend of $3,ooo. The annual fee of $99 was waived the first year. I earned a free night certificate on my one year anniversary this past June. In effect, that free night certificate pays for the annual fee on the card going forward. I’ll reassess this credit card as my renewal date approaches in 2020. By then, I may want a different Marriott Bonvoy. There sure are a lot to choose from as I discussed in this post all about Hotel Credit Cards.

More Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. I took a 4 day trip to Phoenix Arizona for less than $15 using Chase Points. The versatility of Chase points makes them really valuable to me. I’ve transferred Chase points to Hyatt and Marriott for hotel stays and to United and Southwest Airlines for flights. It was time to earn another juicy sign up bonus of Chase points.

The Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Chase currently offers 3 Business credit Cards. Two out of the three have no annual fee. I chose the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card. It had a 50,000 point sign up bonus after the $3,000 minimum spending requirement. I earn 5 x points on office supplies, cable, phone and internet. After meeting the minimum spend, I put all my 5 x point category spending on auto pay with this credit card. Other than those regular monthly expenses, I put little else on the card. I love that I consistently earn 5 ultimate rewards points for every dollar spend in the bonus categories.

More Hotel Points: Hilton

In part one of My Travel Hacking Credit Cards, I wrote about the Hilton Honors personal credit card. Since I knew I had several trips where I specifically wanted to stay in Hilton Properties, I closed my personal Hilton American Express card and opened up a Business Hilton Honors credit card. There are times when closing a credit card makes sense. In this case, I had a very small credit limit and the account was not my oldest.

The sign up bonus on the new business credit card was 125,000 Hilton Honors points after a $3,000 minimum spend. The card comes with a $95 annual fee not waived in the first year. One perk that I use often is the automatic Gold status. This has gotten me free bottled water on check in. In addition, I receive free cooked-to-order breakfast for me and anyone else staying in the room. There are other perks too numerous to list that I enjoy as well.

Chase Business Ink Preferred Card Number 2

When the annual fee came due on my Chase Ink Business Preferred card, I decided to cancel it. As I now had the no-fee Chase Business Ink card, I felt that I didn’t need the other card. A few months later, I regretted my decision. I called Chase and they were unable to reinstate my closed credit card. They told me to re-apply, which I did. Not only did I get the card again, but I earned an additional 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points! Sometimes, mistakes pay off. This card has a referral bonus of 20,000 points. After referring one friend to this card, I had more than covered the cost of the $95 annual fee.

Next Up: Capital One Spark for Business Card

Capital One Rewards points are great for travel expenses that aren’t standard airfare and big hotel chains. I use these points for transportation like train rides, Uber and Lyft. I’ve also used my Capital One Rewards points to cover hotel stays when not at a chain hotel. I already had a personal version of Capital One Rewards earning credit card. The first year the annual fee was waived. I negotiated to waive the annual fee in the second year as well. However, I had already used up most of the points earned at sign up. It was time to look at Business cards from Capital One.

I chose the Capital One Spark for Business. It had a 50,000 Rewards point sign up bonus after $5,000 minimum spend. The annual fee of $95 was waived in the first year. It earns 2 x points per dollar spent. Redeeming points for travel purchases with this card is easy. I do it in the Capital One App on my phone. I’ll reassess when I get close to the anniversary date for this card.

Time for Airline Credit Cards

As I was diving further into Travel Hacking, I wanted to diversify my airline points. I already had an American Airlines miles earning credit card. Up until then, I would transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United and Southwest when I flew on those airlines.

Chase offered a great deal on the Business version of it’s United Explorer MileagePlus credit card. At the time, the signup bonus was 75,000 United points after $5,000 minimum spend. For some context, I flew one way to Oslo, Norway in a lie flat Business Class seat on Lufthansa ( a partner airline to United) for 70,000 points. I knew I wanted more United points so I applied for this travel credit card. Those points will come in handy for future trips both abroad and domestic.

A nice perk of this card is free checked baggage. Usually, I travel with a carry-on bag. However, there are times when I check a bag just to relieve myself of having to schlep it around the airport. Being under five feet tall, I appreciate not having to lift my carry on over my head to reach the overhead bins on the plane. If you are still following along with me, there are just three travel credit cards left in my wallet.

Beloved Southwest Airlines

I’m a big fan of Southwest Airlines. One of the things I like best about this airline is that there is no charge to cancel a flight even up to an hour before the flight. There are often great deals on their Wanna Get Away Fares. The airline has a generous 2 free checked bags policy. Finally, the staff of Southwest is one of the friendliest and most helpful that I’ve encountered.

Southwest offers several credit cards. There are three personal and one business. I chose the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card. The sign up bonus was 60,000 Rapid Rewards points. This card had a $3,000 minimum spending requirement. On my one year anniversary, I’ll receive bonus points.

Since I travel on Southwest quite a bit, it made sense to get this card. This frees up my Chase Ultimate Rewards points, that I had been transferring to Southwest, for other uses. There was no annual fee the first year on this card. I’ll reassess when the $99 annual fee comes due next year. I’ll likely look for a personal Southwest card at that time.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

The deal was too good to pass up. Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card and earn 3 x points on any type of purchase up to a total of $20,000 spent in the first year. This was an opportunity to earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With this offer, there was no signup bonus. There is never an annual fee on this card. I love using this card for any purchases where I don’t already earn 3 x points or more. With strategic planning, I will easily meet $20,000 in household expenses in my first year with this card. Then, the card still offers 1.5 x points on all purchases. Again, in cases where I don’t earn more than 1 x points per dollar, this card is great.

My Most Recent Travel Credit Card

It pays to be patient. I have been receiving travel credit card offers both online and by snail mail. Each offer gets progressively better over time. I was in no hurry to acquire Delta Skymiles. However, when the offer went to 70,000 Delta Skymiles as a signup bonus, I pulled the trigger.

The card is the American Express Delta Gold Skymiles credit card. Minimum spend with this offer was only $2,000. The timing was perfect as I had some specific larger purchases to make. The $95 annual fee is waived in the first year. There’s a free baggage allowance with this card. I’ll likely use the Skymiles in the first year. If I can’t negotiate a waived or reduced annual fee in year two, I’ll downgrade the card.

So there you have it, the travel credit cards in my wallet. It may seem like a lot of cards. I get that. It helps that I have a spreadsheet where I keep track of all of my travel credit cards. At a quick glance, I can see when annual fees are due so I can call to get fees waived or reduced. On a regular basis, I carry no more than 3 credit cards in my wallet. That’s a manageable number.

What’s your favorite travel credit card and why? Scroll down and leave a comment. I love to hear from you.

Note that some links in this post are referral links. This means I get rewarded (usually with points/miles) if you apply for and are approved for a credit card. It does not cost you anything to use my referral links but helps me maintain this blog.