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For many travelers, there might be periods when they don’t frequently use a specific airline or hotel loyalty program. During these times, it’s crucial to maintain the activity in your loyalty accounts to prevent your travel miles from expiring. When pondering the question, “do airline miles expire?”, here are some key points to bear in mind.
Do Travel Airline Miles Expire?
Points for the most popular travel credit cards don’t expire as long as you still hold the card in most cases. These popular points programs include:
- American Express Membership Rewards®
- Bank of America
- Bilt Rewards Points
- Capital One Miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards® points
- Citi ThankYou
- Discover it
- Wells Fargo
While you can keep accumulating credit card points, it’s possible to lose your balance if your card falls out of good standing or you close your account.
If you’re going to close your card account, you will need to redeem your points to get some return on your investment. You can also see if you can transfer your points to another card account within the same loyalty program. For example, you can transfer your Chase Sapphire points to your Chase Freedom family card.
If your travel credit card supports airline and hotel point transfers, you can transfer your points when you don’t want to redeem them today. You will need to watch out for any expiration dates for the airline or hotel brand.
When you have several secondary credit cards, remember to show activity on your old credit cards. You should make a purchase at least once every six months. Following this spending practice reduces the likelihood that the bank will reduce your spending limit or close your account due to account inactivity.
Tip: You can get a free weekly credit report through December 2023.
When Do Travel Airline Miles Expire?
Frequent flyer miles for domestic airlines are less likely to expire than for international carriers. Your miles can remain active until you die or close your frequent flyer account.
Here are the current expiration policies for the airlines:
- Air Canada: After 18 months of inactivity
- Alaska Airlines: Do not expire (Must show account activity every 24 months)
- American Airlines: After 24 months of inactivity
- Avianca LifeMiles: After 12 months of inactivity for general members and 24 months for elite members and co-brand credit card members
- Avios (British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia): After 36 months of inactivity
- Cathay Pacific: After 18 months of inactivity
- Delta Air Lines: Do not expire
- Emirates: 36 months from the date earned. Specifically, at the end of your birthday month.
- Etihad: After 18 months of inactivity for Bronze, Silver, and Gold members. They never expire for Platinum members.
- Frontier Airlines: Must earn miles every 12 months
- Hawaiian Airlines: Do not expire
- JetBlue: Do not expire
- Singapore Airlines: 36 months from the month you earn them (Can get a 6-month mileage extension to expire no later than December 2023)
- Southwest Airlines: Do not expire
- United Airlines: Do not expire
For airline miles that do not expire, it’s important to log into your account at least once a year. Doing so makes sure your account information and email address remain current. Airlines might close your account if they cannot make contact with you after a series of attempts.
Another way to keep your airline account active is by using a branded airline miles credit card. Making purchases earns frequent flyer miles that count as qualifying activity.
Unfortunately, transferring travel miles from a Chase Sapphire, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, or Capital One Venture card won’t renew the expiration date for your miles.
When Do Hotel Points Expire?
Hotel points tend to have the strictest expiration policies of the different travel rewards programs. The good news is that hotels have been extending point expiration dates as most hotel rooms stay empty.
- Choice Privileges: After 18 months of inactivity
- Hilton Honors: After 24 months of inactivity
- IHG One Rewards: After 12 months of inactivity
- Marriott Bonvoy: After 24 months of inactivity
- Radisson Rewards: After 24 months of inactivity
- World of Hyatt: After 24 months of inactivity
- Wyndham Rewards: After 18 months of inactivity and 4 years after the checkout date
Like airline miles, making purchases on a hotel credit card lets you earn hotel points to show account activity. Many hotel credit cards with an annual fee also provide accelerated “gold” or “platinum” loyalty status. This status lets you enjoy some exclusive perks when you book a stay.
Don’t forget about your other hotel credit card benefits, like the hotel night certificates. These certificates typically expire 12 months after you receive them. But the certificate may have a temporary extension giving you several more months to redeem your free night.
Ways to Prevent Travel Miles from Expiring
There are several ways to keep your travel rewards from expiring. The expiration and point renewal options vary by the loyalty program. Some programs make it easier to avoid point expirations than others.
Use a Branded Credit Card
Making purchases on a co-brand airline or hotel credit card can extend your points balance indefinitely. Most US airlines now offer credit cards without an annual fee. Even if your miles don’t expire, if you don’t have a credit card, occasional purchases can’t hurt your status.
Sign Up for Dining Rewards
Many loyalty programs offer a dining rewards program. By dining or getting take-out at a participating restaurant, you can earn loyalty points by paying with a linked credit card or debit card.
Use Online Shopping Portals
It’s common for airlines to offer online shopping portals. Chase Ultimate Rewards has a shopping portal, for instance. Instead of going directly to your favorite online store, visit your frequent flyer account first, and activate a shopping session. Most online stores award up to 5 miles per $1 on your pre-tax purchase amount.
Redeem Miles for Magazines and Newspapers
Before the pandemic, travel programs offered several non-travel ways to redeem your points. These redemptions don’t have a high redemption value but can require fewer points than an award night or flight.
It’s possible to redeem your points for magazines and newspapers with several loyalty programs. However, you’ll also find merchandise and gift card rewards to be more common. Note that the redemption value isn’t as high as using them for flights or nights.
Summary of Do Airline Miles Expire?
So, do travel airline miles expire? While it’s uncommon for credit card points to expire due to account inactivity, this practice is common for airlines and hotels. Many carriers suspended point expirations during the pandemic but those extensions are no longer active. It’s essential to track your points balances, and potential expiration dates regularly.
Do credit card points expire?
Most credit card points for US banks do not expire as long as your account is current and you don’t request an account closure. Make sure you make the minimum monthly payment to avoid account closure. Using your card for a purchase at least once every six months is an easy way to show activity and earn points.
Related: The Best Travel Credit Cards
Do airline miles expire?
With the exception of American Airlines, miles don’t expire for the largest US airlines. Frequent flyer miles for international airlines are more likely to expire between 18 months and 36 months without account activity. The point expiration terms and conditions vary by airline.
Having an airline credit card can prevent miles from expiring for most airlines with an expiration policy.
Do hotel points expire?
Hotel points usually expire between 12 and 24 months of account inactivity. Earning or redeeming points redeems your balance. Like airlines, a hotel credit card can prevent point expirations with periodic card purchases to earn hotel points.
Hopefully, these tips with help clear up any confusion regarding travel rewards and miles expiration rules for 2023.