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It can be hard work to accumulate miles/points from your travels and credit card spending. You are very likely planning on using these rewards to pay for your future travel. For that to happen, you need to take these steps to protect your miles and points from expiring.
Protect Miles from Expiring
There are several steps you can take to protect your miles from expiring. Here are a few ideas of what you can do, including steps that don’t involve leaving your home. Hopefully, these steps can help you maintain your points and miles balance.
Track Your Rewards Accounts
The easiest way to let your miles and points expire is by forgetting you even have them in the first place. Making a list or spreadsheet of all the programs you have points with is a great first step. You can also use software like AwardWallet to help track your points.
How in-depth your list is depends on your personal preference. You might decide to only jot down the program name and your membership number on a piece of paper, a Word document, or a smartphone note. Or, you might decide to create a working Excel spreadsheet that includes a running tally of your current points balance for each program.
Pay Attention to Expiration Policies
Every airline and hotel has a different rewards point expiration policy. While some options don’t have an expiration date, there are some major travel brands whose points and miles do expire.
For example, these airline miles don’t expire:
However, American Airlines AAdvantage miles and almost every other travel currency do. You may be able to reinstate expired miles, but the process is expensive and may not be worth it. Instead, being proactive and knowing when your miles expire is better.
You can find this information in the loyalty program FAQs or the program terms and conditions.
Further Information: Do Travel Airline Miles Expire?
Earn or Spend Rewards to Protect Your Miles from Expiring
The easiest way to keep your points active and from expiring is to earn points by making a purchase or redeeming points for award travel. In most cases, the expiration clock will reset each time your point balance changes.
Some of the best ways to keep your miles & points from expiring include:
- Making a travel reservation
- Using the co-branded credit card
- Buy points
- Shop through their shopping portal
- Take a survey for points
- Sign up for dining clubs
Even if you don’t plan on traveling with a particular airline or hotel in the next year, they often offer several ways to earn points without having to buy an actual plane ticket or a hotel night that can cost hundreds of dollars.
Most, if not all, programs will never let your points expire if you periodically buy additional points or use their shopping portal that allows you to earn miles when you shop online at many national retailers. In some shopping portals, you can even buy just one iTunes song to reset your expiration date.
After all, a $5 or $10 purchase can be a relatively cheap “maintenance fee” to keep your point balance intact.
Related: 6 Unique Ways to Earn Airline Miles
Link Your Travel Accounts
You can also link your travel accounts to earn points from other travel purchases. Several airlines and hotels have a dining program that allows you to link your credit card to the rewards program. Each time you eat at a participating restaurant, points are deposited into your account automatically. You might also want to have a look at the best credit cards for dining since many are also some of the best for travel.
This tactic can also be used for rental car companies. Some rental car agencies partner with airlines and hotels and will reward you with their respective miles and points instead of rental car points, such as the best Southwest credit cards. As airline and hotel points can be much more valuable, this can be an easy tradeoff to make.
You may also be able to link your hotel loyalty account to your preferred airline. Instead of earning hotel points on stays, you can choose mileage instead. Airline miles are typically the most valuable travel points so making the switch can be well worth it.
Use a Co-Branded Credit Card
Another easy way to protect your miles from expiring is to apply for a travel credit card. As long as you own the co-branded airline or hotel rewards card, your point balance will never expire. And, you earn points with every purchase.
Some loyalty programs offer fee-free credit cards that make great secondary credit cards. Making a purchase on one of these cards at least once a year will ensure that your points are protected. Check out the best no-annual fee credit cards to learn more.
Regarding credit cards that charge an annual fee, you will need to decide if the credit card fee is worth the tradeoff of knowing your points will not expire. Airline travel cards will also include perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, or lounge passes to add additional value, if you fly with them during the calendar year.
There are some hotel credit cards that offer a free hotel night which can easily pay for the annual fee. Even if you don’t use the credit cards to make any purchases during the year, you can still redeem the reward night and keep your point balance with either program.
Transfer Points to Protect Your Miles From Expiring
Another protection option is to transfer points to your airline and hotel loyalty programs. The easiest way is to sign up for a travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card which allows you to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on a 1:1 basis to several major airline and hotel travel partners. This can be a wise option if you have points from Southwest Airlines, United, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott because they are exclusive Chase travel partners.
If you want to transfer points to Delta, Emirates, or Etihad, you can also apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express. You can also transfer your Amex Membership Rewards® points to several other airline loyalty programs.
Another benefit of owning a flexible travel rewards credit card is you earn rewards points on each purchase. These points can be redeemed for travel directly from the credit card travel portal or by making unlimited transfers to any of the travel partners.
Your credit card rewards points will never expire as long as you own the card. If you plan to cancel your rewards card, be sure to transfer the points to avoid losing them.
Redeem Points for Gift Cards and Magazine Subscriptions
Another option is to redeem your points for non-travel rewards. Unless your only option is to redeem points or lose them, this is generally a bad redemption option since it takes so many points to earn a gift card or subscription. However, some cards, like The Citi Premier® Card, allow you to redeem for gift cards through the ThankYou.com portal.
You might consider this option if you are going to cancel your account and don’t want to see your point balance vanish.
This redemption option isn’t as widely available as a few years ago so you may need to choose a charitable donation instead if you can’t redeem them for travel. Even charity donations can help use your travel points for good instead of simply vanishing into thin air.
In conclusion, there are several ways to protect your miles from expiring. Seeing your travel miles expire is disheartening when you don’t need to use them right now or simply forget you have a remaining balance. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to renew the expiration date and avoid account closures due to inactivity. A travel credit card is usually one of the best options as you can enjoy other perks even casual travelers can utilize.