Do Credit Card Rewards, Points and Miles Expire?
Credit card points and miles won’t expire as long as your account remains open. However, points and miles earned with airline and hotel loyalty programs do typically expire following a lack of activity.
Miles and points earned on co-branded hotel and airline travel rewards credit cards usually expire if you aren’t actively using your account. Many will expire after 12 to 24 months from the date of your most recent activity.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can keep your points and miles from expiring. You can use your co-branded airline or hotel credit card for a small purchase, redeem points for a gift card or even donate them to charity, among many options.
It’s important to remember that each program has its own policies. You should always consult the terms and conditions so you know all the details and nuances to its rewards program and policies.
Do credit card points expire?
Rewards earned on general travel or cash back credit cards issued by major banks typically don’t expire as long as your account remains open. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Barclays Arrival Miles don’t expire.
|When do points expire?
|American Express Membership Rewards
|Bank of America Travel Rewards
|Barclays Arrival Miles
|Capital One Rewards
|Chase Ultimate Rewards®
|Citi ThankYou® Rewards
|See your specific card member agreement*
|Discover Cashback Rewards
|Wells Fargo Rewards Points
|U.S. Bank FlexPerks
*Shared Citi ThankYou® Rewards expire 90 days from receipt of rewards.
Do airline miles expire?
With most major airlines, your miles never expire. However, there are two notable exceptions: American Airlines and British Airways. Earning and redeeming miles on a semi-regular basis will keep your miles from expiring with these two programs.
Typically, any miles that you earn and deposit into your frequent flyer account remain available to you even if you close your co-branded airline credit card.
Do hotel points expire?
Hotel points typically expire if you are inactive in the program. However, with most programs, as long as you earn and redeem points regularly, the remaining ones won’t expire. For the major hotel programs listed below you can see that hotel points typically expire between 12 and 24 months of inactivity.
An exception is the Wyndham Rewards program. Even with account activity, your points will expire after 48 months, even if your account is active.
Similar to airline rewards, any travel points earned through a co-branded hotel credit card and then deposited into the loyalty program account remain active, even if you close the card.
Ways you could lose your credit card rewards
Even if your credit card rewards don’t expire, you can lose them. These are some situations in which you may lose your credit card points or miles:
- Refunds or returns: Some rewards programs allow you transfer points to hotel or airline loyalty programs. Once the transfer is complete, they cannot be transferred back. Be sure you know the expiration rules of the new program before you initiate a transfer.
- Transfer points: Some rewards programs allow you to transfer points to hotel or airline loyalty programs. Once the transfer is complete, the rewards cannot be transferred back to the credit card rewards program and will be subject to the expiration rules of the new program.
- Rewards program cancellation: Though it may be uncommon with large rewards programs, companies can cancel rewards programs. The company will typically send you a notice regarding the cancellation and may allow a short redemption period.
- Late payment: Issuers may temporarily prevent you from earning or redeeming credit card points if you miss a monthly payment. The program may be reinstated once your account is current, though a fee may be charged.
- Delinquent account: If your account becomes delinquent (meaning 60 to 90 days past due) you may forfeit all rewards permanently. Likewise, some issuers may cancel your rewards completely if you file bankruptcy, receivership, reorganization, liquidation, dissolution or insolvency.
- Program or company (i.e. major airline) goes bankrupt: You may be unable to use your points or miles if an airline or hotel chain declares bankruptcy — at least temporarily. You may be able to use your points once the company returns to better standing.
How to keep points and miles from expiring
There are a number of ways to keep your points and miles from expiring:
- Use your points or miles regularly
This is the obvious way to keep rewards from expiring. Making frequent purchases with your loyalty program will allow you to earn rewards and keep your account active. Redeeming rewards has the same effect if you occasionally use them for a statement credit, hotel room or flight.
- Use your co-branded credit card
Co-branded airline and hotel credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Card let you earn hotel loyalty program points every time you use the card. Even if the card isn’t your go-to credit card, use it for a small purchase once a month.
- Shop through your loyalty programs’ online shopping portal
Many airline and hotel loyalty reward programs have online shopping portals which allow you to either redeem or earn points. If you’re saving up points for a big trip but are at risk of losing them, use some for an item that has a low point value like a magazine subscription. Or use the shopping portal to purchase something you need, and earn some extra points for doing so.
- Transfer points or miles
A simple way to keep miles without having to use them or buy something that will net you more, is to transfer them to a partner program like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. Say your JetBlue TrueBlue points are about to expire – all you need to do is transfer some of your Chase Ultimate Rewards to your JetBlue account to generate activity. We don’t recommend moving large amounts of points unless you plan to use them soon.
- Keep your account open and in good standing
Your credit card account needs to remain open and in good standing to keep your miles from expiring. Pay your balance in full every month and avoid closing your account in order to maintain your well-earned points and miles.
- Use a dining programs
Some loyalty programs allow you to earn points whenever you dine in or order takeout at restaurants affiliated with their particular dining program. Utilizing a dining program allows you to earn points and maintain activity simply by doing something you do anyway.
- Donate miles
Another option that will enable you to push out the expiration date for your points and miles is to donate them to charity. Most loyalty programs partner with nonprofits and allow customers to donate points and miles to help various causes including helping a child’s wish come true with Make-A-Wish or sending relief workers to disaster-stricken areas via the American Red Cross.
- Buy additional miles
This isn’t the most economical way to keep your miles from expiring, but occasionally airlines sell miles at a discounted rate and you can get airline miles for less than they’re worth. Or if you’re a few thousand miles from the amount of miles you need to book your reward, consider buying enough to top off your account and take the trip.
How to reinstate expired points or miles
In some cases you may be able to call the credit card or airline or hotel loyalty program’s customer service number and ask for your rewards to be reinstated. It never hurts to ask, especially if they recently expired. Alternatively, you can try submitting a customer service ticket or email with your request.
Remember to be polite when making your request — a little friendliness goes a long way. Expect that the program representative may say “no” and if they do, leave it at that.Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.