Expiration Policies of Major Hotel & Airline Programs, Summarized

Many of us participate in multiple loyalty programs, with miles and points scattered all over the place. Points and miles are like currencies with value (largely) controlled by the hotel or airline, and many of them expire after a period of inactivity.

Diversifying your points and miles portfolio is great, since there are strengths and weaknesses to each program. However, it can sometimes be hard to keep track, since different programs can have very different expiration policies. For that reason, I figure I’d do a quick roundup of the expiration policies of major programs.

Different airlines and hotels' loyalty programs have different expiration policies

Different airlines and hotels’ loyalty programs have different expiration policies

Two Types of Expiration Policies

You will notice two different columns in the tables below. Many programs have “rolling” expiration policies, so as long as there’s some account activity within a set duration, the expiration date can be extended. For example, let’s say you earned 1,000 Hyatt points in December 2014. If you then let your Hyatt account stay dormant, those points will expire in December 2016. However, if you stay at Hyatt and earn points in November 2016, your expiration date for all the points in your account will get extended by another 24 months, to November 2018.

What qualify as an “account activity” can vary between programs, though. Some programs, like Qantas, do not count transfers between family members as an eligible account activity. Others, like Southwest, do not count redemptions as an account activity. There are also programs that with policies that supercede their expiration policies. For example, IHG points do not expire for elite members; the 12-month clock doesn’t start until you lose your status. These tables isn’t exhaustive, but if an expiration date for some of your points is coming up, make sure you check what counts and what doesn’t!

Some programs have a “hard expiration” date for miles, regardless of whether you have any account activity. For example, Singapore Airlines miles expire 3 years after they’re earned. If you earned 1,000 miles in December 2014, those miles will expire in December 2017. Even if you fly them again and earn 1,000 more miles December 2016, your “old” miles will still expire in 2017.

Expiration Policies of Major Hotel Programs

Months Without Activity “Hard” Expiration
Best Western Do Not Expire
Choice Privileges 18 Months
Club Carlson 24 Months
Hilton HHonors 12 Months
Hyatt Gold Passport 24 Months
IHG Rewards Club 12 Months
La Quinta Returns 18 Months
Le Club AccorHotels 12 Months
Marriott Rewards 24 Months
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) 12 Months
Wyndham Rewards 18 Months 4 Years

Expiration Policies of Major Airline Programs

Months Without Activity “Hard” Expiration
Aeromexico Club Premier 24 Months
Air Canada Aeroplan 12 Months
Air France/KLM FlyingBlue 20 Months
Alaska MileagePlan 24 Months
Alitalia 24 Months Program’s Expiration
American AAdvantage 18 Months
Avianca LifeMiles 24 Months
ANA Mileage Club 3 Years
British Airways Executive Club 36 Months
Delta SkyMiles Do Not Expire
Emirates Skywards 3 Years
Hawaiian Airlines 18 Months
JetBlue TrueBlue Do Not Expire
Korean Air 10 Years
Lufthansa Miles & More 3 Years
Qantas Frequent Flyer 18 Months
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 18 Months after Enrollment 3 Years
Southwest Rapid Rewards 24 Months
United MileagePlus 18 Months
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 36 Months
Virgin America Elevate 18 Months

Airline programs have more complicated expiration policies, with some subtleties. For example, Alitalia’s program itself expires, so even though you can technically keep your miles alive by having account activity every 24 months, you’re out of luck if the program itself ends.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles expire after 3 years, or 18 months after enrollment. So if you created a KrisFlyer account for the sole purpose of transferring points in from other programs, those miles will expire after 18 months, unless you earn or transfer more within that window.

Emirates Skywards technically have a 3-year expiration, but they don’t remove your miles from your account until your birthday month after the 3-years have lapsed. So if you earned miles in January 2014 but your Birthday is in December, your miles won’t expire until December 2017.

Keeping Track of Your Points and Miles

I definitely have OCPD and I keep a spreadsheet of all my (and my family members’!) points and miles across different programs. However, I also use Award Wallet, which is a great tool to keep track of all your miles and points. You get an alert when they are about to expire, and they can automatically update some of your balances. However, they don’t have access to all programs, so you will have to monitor some manually.

There are plenty of easy ways to keep your miles from expiring, which I will write about in the next few days!

Comments

  1. I thought some hotel programs like IHG and Wyndham required actual stays to keep points alive, while most required only points activity. Is this not true?

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