How to Keep Your Precious Points and Miles from Expiring

There are many ways to keep your hard-earned miles and points from expiring in loyalty accounts, even if you don’t plan to travel anytime soon.
Last updated Oct 6, 2020 | By Stephanie Colestock
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If you’ve been paying attention to us here at FinanceBuzz, you already know that we love our points and miles. These handy little rewards — which you can earn any time you travel, spend with the right credit card, or even shop online through a participating portal — can be redeemed for valuable flights, hotel stays, and so much more.

Sometimes, though, you’re unable to use your miles and points for a while. In fact, that’s a concern for many program participants right now, as we have watched worldwide travel come to a COVID-driven halt. Will your miles and points expire while you wait for the right time to travel again? And if so, what are some things you can do to prevent losing all those hard-earned rewards?

Let’s take a look at some of the top travel credit card and airline rewards programs, their usual expiration policies, and what sort of exceptions are being made due to the pandemic.

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4 top credit card rewards programs and their expiration policies

Some credit cards offer cashback rewards, whereas others allow you to earn points and/or miles with your spending. Considering how much those credit card points are worth, it’s important that you don’t let your earnings expire.

American Express Membership Rewards Program

If you carry any number of American Express credit cards, you’ll be able to earn points from your spending. Some cards offer welcome bonuses; others let you earn points on every dollar you spend; and some simply offer points when you spend in specific categories. No matter how they’re earned, though, these points are part of the Amex Membership Rewards program, which gives you the flexibility to redeem your points in a few different ways.

To get the most value from your Membership Rewards points, consider using them in the following ways:

  • Booking flights directly through Amex Travel, which allows you to score insider fares with more than 40 airlines at a rate of 1 cent per point
  • Upgrade your existing flight with points at a rate of 1 cent per point
  • Book Fine Hotels & Resorts at a rate of 1 cent per point through Amex Travel
  • Book vacations and cruises, or reserve prepaid hotel rooms, through Amex Travel at a rate of .7 cents per point
  • Transfer points to a partner loyalty program (such as your favorite airline or hotel) and then redeem those points directly for award travel

Amex transfer partners include Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, KLM, and Etihad Airways as well as Marriott and Hilton hotels, to name a few.

Do Amex Membership Rewards expire?

We’ve got some good news for you: Membership Rewards points do not expire. As long as your account is in good standing, your points will be waiting for you whenever you’re ready to travel again.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Program

Perhaps one of the (if not the) most popular credit card rewards programs is Chase Ultimate Rewards. These points can be earned through introductory bonuses, everyday and specific-category spending, and by shopping through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards offers cardholders the flexibility to choose how they want to redeem their earnings. You can cash out for a statement credit at a cent-per-point rate, or you can maximize those valuable earnings in other ways.

The Chase travel portal allows you to book (often discounted) flights, cruises, hotels, and rental cars directly, using your accrued points. Depending on the card(s) you carry, though, you may be able to get even more value from these redemptions.

For instance, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get a 25% bonus when redeeming their points through the platform: 60,000 points is suddenly worth $750 (or 1.25 cents per point). If you carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve, though, this bonus jumps to 50%, making 50,000 points worth $750 instead.

You may even be able to squeeze more value out of your points by using them with Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, including Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, British Airways, World of Hyatt, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Do Chase points expire?

Points never expire with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can, however, lose points if your account is no longer in good standing or if you misuse the program, engage in fraudulent activity, or file for bankruptcy.

Citi ThankYou Points

With certain Citi credit cards, you will earn what’s called ThankYou Points. However, unlike some other popular platforms, Citi’s ThankYou program can be confusing to navigate. That’s because the value of your points and even your basic redemption options will depend on which card(s) you carry.

You can earn Citi ThankYou points through welcome bonus promotions, by spending with a Citi ThankYou credit card, or by holding certain Citi bank accounts/products. These points can then be redeemed for things like cash back, gift cards, travel, or used with Citi transfer partners.

Do Citi ThankYou Points expire?

No matter how you plan to redeem your earned Citi ThankYou points, though, you can rest easy knowing that with many cards, these will not expire. There are a few older cards, such as the Citi Platinum with ThankYou Rewards, Citi Simplicity Rewards Card, and Diamond Preferred Rewards Card, that do allow their points to expire, however. It’s also important to keep an eye on the points that are given to or shared with you:

  • Points issued directly by ThankYou Rewards — such as promotional points — will expire three years after they are awarded.
  • Points shared with you by someone else will expire 90 days after they are shared.
  • If you earn points through a card such as the Citi PremierPass/Expedia Card, your points will expire after 18 months of account inactivity.

Capital One Venture Miles

A few different Capital One credit cards offer Venture miles as rewards for your spending. With the Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One VentureOne Rewards cards, you’ll earn Venture miles on your everyday spending, no matter what you buy or where.

Redemptions are simple: you can cash them in for a statement credit or paper check (at .5 cents per mile), redeem to cover eligible travel expenses charged to your card in the past 90 days, or even book a new trip through the Venture travel portal. You can also transfer your miles to a Capital One transfer partner, enabling you to use them for award travel or upgrades when you fly or stay in a hotel.

Do Capital One miles expire?

Capital One Venture miles don’t ever expire. As long as your account is open and in good standing, your miles will remain yours. However, if you close your account before redeeming all of those miles, you will lose whatever is unused.

5 airline miles programs' expiration policies

Airline miles can be used for everything from free flights to upgraded seats, early boarding, and even preferred status. You can earn points by taking flights, using a credit card that earns you miles, or transferring miles from a partner credit card rewards program to your favorite airline.

It’s important to keep an eye on your miles, however, as many of these programs allow your balance to expire over time. If you take a break from traveling — especially during and even after this COVID-19 pandemic — you’ll want to be sure you know where your miles stand.

Here’s a look at some of the popular domestic airline programs and whether your accrued miles will expire over time.

Do American Airlines miles expire?

Yes, your American Airlines AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of account inactivity. To keep these miles in good standing, you will need to earn or redeem miles with American or an American transfer partner before that 18-month point, which will restart the clock.

If you aren’t tracking your miles’ expiration date, you can reactivate them once within 18 months of their expiration date. There is a fee for this, though you can reactivate up to 500,000 miles (so it may be well worth the expense for some!).

Do Delta miles expire?

If you’ve been saving up Delta Skymiles, you’ll be glad to know they do not expire. Regardless of how often you fly — and whether you take an extended break from traveling (or just traveling on Delta) — your miles will be waiting when you return.

Do JetBlue points expire?

The miles you earn through JetBlue are called TrueBlue Points. Although they used to expire after a period of inactivity, the airline announced back in 2013 that they will remain active for life. So no, JetBlue points do not and will never expire.

Do Southwest points expire?

If you sign up for a Southwest credit card or join the Rapid Rewards program, you earn Rapid Rewards points. These points will never expire, regardless of account activity.

Do United miles expire?

Up until recently, United’s MileagePlus miles expired after 18 months of account inactivity. This past fall, however, the airline announced that these award miles would no longer expire, regardless of how often you earn or redeem miles.

How to prevent your points and miles from expiring

Although many of the bigger-name programs have shifted to a no-expiration points model, a few still require regular account activity in order to keep your earnings valid. Whether you are saving up miles with your favorite airline or points through a preferred hotel chain, here are a few ways you can prevent your points and miles from expiring:

  • Use a shopping portal when you buy online. A great way to earn extra rewards and keep your account(s) in good standing is to shop through an online portal every time you buy. If you’re worried about your AAdvantage miles expiring soon, for instance, sign up for the American Airlines eShopping portal. From there, you can earn miles (and reset your account activity) by shopping online at more than 950 stores, such as Sam’s Club, Apple, Sephora, Nike, and more.
  • Book a flight with miles. Depending on the program, you may be able to keep your account current by redeeming miles for things like an upcoming flight or seat upgrade. You can often book these pretty far in advance too, so start thinking about holiday travel if need be.
  • Transfer from a partner program. If you have points or miles from a travel rewards credit card sitting around collecting dust, transfer some of these to a partner program to keep other points or miles from expiring. Sometimes, you can even transfer over as little as 500 to 1,000 points at a time.
  • Buy extra points or miles. Many programs allow you to buy points or miles at any time to boost your account. If your balance is about to expire and you have no other options, buying as few points as possible can keep you from losing what you already have.
  • Donate your points or miles to charity. Not sure what you want to do with your points balance but don’t want to risk letting them expire? Help a good cause. Many programs will let you donate points or miles to charity, and this often counts as new account activity.

The bottom line

Earning rewards on the things you do anyway — like taking flights, staying in hotels, or spending on your credit cards — is a great way to enjoy free cash, gift cards, and even travel. The points and miles you earn from each of these programs are valuable, but if you aren’t careful, those rewards could expire due to account inactivity.

Keep track of which loyalty programs allow their miles and points to expire, and take note of your activity. If you’re coming close to losing your hard-earned rewards, there are many quick and easy ways to reset the clock, often without even needing to leave home.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
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  • Premium travel protection benefits