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When Do My Frequent Flyer Miles Expire and How Can I Extend Them?

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Stephen Au
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Stephen Au

Senior Content Contributor

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Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used...
Edited by: Jessica Merritt
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You may have heard stories of travelers who’ve spent their entire working lives building up a large balance of frequent flyer miles in hopes of using the miles in retirement, only to lose them and have their travel dreams crushed.

Most often, these people have accrued tons of miles, but have neglected them for a short while. These currencies expire and your balance of miles can go to zero. Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit, and many people believe that the expiration is unavoidable.

Another misconception: most people believe that to extend your miles, you have to fly on the airline again. In most cases, you’ll be able to reset the “expiration timer” simply by transferring a small number of credit card points to the airline. It’s a low-cost decision with a huge potential upside of salvaging hundreds of thousands of miles.

Let’s explore expiration policies and touch on why they aren’t as straightforward as they might seem. Then, we’ll get into the details with a comprehensive table you can use to reference expiration policies for both airline miles and hotel points.

How Mileage Expiration Works

Family at beach
Understanding mileage expiration policies can mean the difference between an idyllic beach getaway and a failed vacation. Image Credit: Pexels via Pixabay

Expiration policies are imposed by airline and hotel brands as an accounting measure. The vast majority of travelers will never accrue enough miles for a significant redemption through flying. As a result, most frequent flyer accounts have almost negligible amounts of miles sitting in their account with no clear means of use.

When airlines give miles to customers, they incur revenue in their books. Conversely, when customers redeem airline miles, the airline incurs a liability in their accounting. In recent years, accounting practices have evolved such that the liability is significantly larger than it was before due to something called deferred revenue accounting.

Now that airlines are faced with a large accounting liability for the miles that could potentially be redeemed, it’s financially sensible for them to close accounts. Though expiration policies may seem unfair to the consumer.

Who knew accounting practices for loyalty programs could get so complicated?

Depending on which airlines you earn miles on, you may be able to extend your miles if you have a qualifying activity on your account that keeps your miles from expiring. Savvy consumers take advantage of this fact and get ahead of this so they’re not surprised with a zero balance the next time they log in. Many times, transferring a nominal amount of credit card points, say 1,000 points, counts as a qualifying activity. 

Enough talk — let’s summarize the mileage expiration policies for all the major airlines.

A Complete Guide to Mileage Expiration for the Major Frequent Flyer Programs

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Frequent Flyer ProgramExpiration TermsExample of Qualifying Activity to Extend Miles
Aegean Airlines Miles+BonusMiles are valid for 60 months. You must credit a paid flight to extend.Taking a cheap intra-Europe flight and crediting miles to Miles+Bonus.
Aer Lingus AerClubMiles are valid for 36 months. You must collect or spend Avios to extend.Transferring 1,000 Chase points to AerClub.
Aeroflot BonusMiles are valid for 24 months. You must travel on a qualifying flight to extend.Taking a paid Delta flight and crediting to Aeroflot Bonus.
Aeromexico Club PremierMiles are valid for 24 months. You must accrue points to extend.Transferring 1,000 Amex points to Club Premier.
Air Canada AeroplanMiles are valid for 18 months. You must have an activity to extend.Transferring 1,000 Capital One miles to Aeroplan.
Air China PhoenixMilesMiles are valid for 36 months from the end of the month in which it was accrued.No way to extend.
Air France-KLM Flying BlueMiles are valid for 24 months. You must take a qualifying flight or make a purchase with a co-branded card to extend.Credit a cheap Delta flight to Flying Blue or make a purchase on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®.
Air New Zealand AirpointsMiles are valid for 4 to 5 years. On each account anniversary date, points earned more than 4 years earlier will expire.No way to extend.
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanAccounts with no qualifying activity for 24 months are locked and miles will expire. You must accrue or redeem miles to avoid expiration.Transferring 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Mileage Plan.
All Nippon Airways Mileage ClubMiles are valid for 36 months.No way to extend.
American Airlines AAdvantageMiles are valid for 24 months. You must accrue or redeem miles to extend.

*Miles do not expire for members who are under 21 years old or who are the primary cardholder of an American Airlines credit card.

Credit a Oneworld flight to AAdvantage or make a purchase on a co-branded AAdvantage credit card.
Asiana ClubMiles are valid for 10 to 12 years and expire on the last day of the 10th or 12th year from the date of boarding or accumulation.No way to extend.
Avianca LifeMilesMiles are valid for 12 months. You must accrue miles to extend.Buy 1,000 LifeMiles during a big sale (125% to 145% bonus).
Breeze Airways BreezePointsMiles are valid for 24 months.No way to extend.
British Airways Executive ClubMiles are valid for 36 months. You must collect, spend, purchase, or share to extend.Transfer 1,000 Chase points to Executive Club.
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesMiles are valid for 36 months. You must earn or redeem 1 mile every 18 months.Transfer 1,000 Amex points to Asia Miles.
China Eastern MilesMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl ClubMiles are valid for 36 months. You can pay 20% of the miles to extend the remaining 80% by 12 months via the Sky Pearl Mileage Extension Program.Enroll in the SkyPearl Mileage Extension Program to spend 20% of your miles and save the remaining 80% for 12 months.
Copa Airlines ConnectMilesMiles are valid for 24 months. You must buy, give, or transfer ConnectMiles to extend. You can also buy back expired miles.Transfer 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to ConnectMiles.
Delta Air Lines SkyMilesMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
EL AL MatmidMiles are valid for 36 months.No way to extend.
Emirates SkywardsMiles are valid until the end of your birth month at least 3 calendar years later. You can only pay to extend Skywards miles.Pay $20/1,000 miles to extend Emirates Skywards miles for another 12 months.
Etihad GuestMiles are valid for 18 months.Every transaction you make extends your balance by another 18 months, including earning, spending, or buying miles.
EVA Air Infinity MileageLandsMiles are valid for 36 months.No way to extend.
Finnair PlusMiles are valid for 18 months. You must earn or use points to extend.Transfer 1,000 Capital One miles to Finnair Plus.
Frontier MilesMiles are valid for 180 days. You must accrue miles to extend.Make a purchase on the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®.
Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings ClubMiles are valid for 24 months. You must earn or use points to extend.Taking a cheap Alaska Airlines flight and crediting to Fortune Wings Club.
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
Iberia PlusMiles are valid for 36 months. You must earn or use Avios to extend.Transfer 1,000 Chase points to Iberia Plus.
ITA VolareMiles are valid for the duration of the Volare program (3 years, unless extended, up to a maximum of 5 years).No way to extend.
Japan Airlines Mileage BankMiles are valid until the last day of the 36th month following the month of the flight/transaction date.No way to extend.
JetBlue TrueBlueMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
Korean Air SKYPASSMiles are valid for 10 years.No way to extend.
LATAM PassMiles are valid for 24 months. You must fly on flights marketed by LATAM Airlines to extend.Fly a cheap intra-South America flight to extend for another 36 months.
Lufthansa Miles & MoreMiles are valid for 36 months, except if you have elite status or a co-branded credit card. Otherwise, there’s no way to extend.Open a Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®.
Malaysia Airlines EnrichMiles are valid for 36 months and expire at the end of the 36th month. You can only pay to extend Enrich miles.Pay 0.085 MYR/mile to extend miles if they are within 3 months prior to the expiry date.
Qantas Frequent FlyerMiles are valid for 18 months. You must earn or use points to extend.Transfer 1,000 Citi ThankYou Points to Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Qatar Airways Privilege ClubAvios do not expire as long as you have at least some qualifying activity once every 36 months.

Avios don’t expire for Platinum Privilege Club members.

Pay $0.015/Avios online or $0.020 over the phone for another 12 months.
Saudia Al FursanMiles are valid until the end of the year 36 months after they were earned.No way to extend.
Shenzhen Airlines PhoenixMilesMiles are valid for 36 months from the end of the month in which it was accrued.No way to extend.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerMiles are valid for 36 months with qualifying activity but only 18 months without any qualifying activity. You can extend your miles once for a fee.Pay $12 or 1,200 miles per 10,000 miles to extend for up to 12 months, depending on your KrisFlyer status.
Starlux Airlines COSMILEMiles are valid for 36 months from the end of the month in which they were accrued.No way to extend.
South African Airways VoyagerMiles are valid for 36 months and can be extended with qualifying activity, including accruing or redeeming miles.Fly a minimum of 6,000 Tier Miles on South African Airways flights between January and December preceding the date of expiry and the number of expired miles will be reimbursed with an additional 1 year of validity on March 31.
Southwest Airlines Rapid RewardsPoints do not expire.Not applicable.
TAP Portugal Miles&GoMiles are valid for 36 months. You can only pay to extend TAP Portugal miles.Pay €24/2,000 miles to extend for another 3 years.
Thai Airways Royal Orchid PlusMiles are valid until the end of the quarter 3 years after accrual.No way to extend.
Turkish Airlines Miles&SmilesMiles are valid for 3 years. You can only pay to extend miles.Pay $10/1,000 miles for another 3 years.
United Airlines MileagePlusMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubMiles do not expire.Not applicable.
Virgin Australia VelocityMiles are valid for 24 months. You must have a qualifying activity to extend.Taking a cheap Delta Air Lines flight and crediting to Virgin Australia Velocity.

Airlines With the Best Expiration Policies

Delta Air Lines Plane Taking Off
Delta is one of the few airlines whose miles do not expire. Image Credit: corgaasbeek via Pixabay

The most ideal situation is you have miles that will never expire. Of all the major airline loyalty programs out there, there are only a few with this generous policy: China Eastern Eastern Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

When you consider all the amazing ways you can redeem Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue points, United MileagePlus miles, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points, you’ll see why many flock to these loyalty programs.

Airlines With the Worst Expiration Policies

Frontier Planes
Frontier miles expire after a short 180 days, but they can be extended with qualifying activity. Image Credit: nyker via Shutterstock

The airlines with the worst expiration policies are:

  • Frontier (180 days)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (12 months) 
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (18 months)

Although these airlines have the shortest expiration timeline, you can extend the validity of these miles through qualifying activities.

Some of the programs that have a hard expiration policy are Asiana Club, All Nippon Airways Mileage Club, Air New Zealand Airpoints, and so on. All of these miles cannot be extended. Considering how many fantastic ways there are to redeem Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines miles, and ANA Mileage Club miles, this hopefully shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

A Complete Guide to Points Expiration for Major Hotel Brands

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Hotel BrandExpiration TermsExample of Qualifying Activity to Extend Points
ALL – Accor Live LimitlessPoints are valid for 12 months. Can extend with a qualifying stay.Stay at a hotel within the Accor brand.
Best Western RewardsPoints do not expire.Not applicable.
Caesars Entertainment Caesars RewardsRewards Credits are valid for 6 months. Can extend by earning Rewards Credits.Purchase virtual coins when playing any Caesars Rewards Play For Fun Games on Facebook.
Choice PrivilegesPoints are valid for 18 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Purchase 1,000 Choice Privileges points.
Hilton HonorsPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Make a purchase on a co-branded American Express Hilton credit card.
IHG One RewardsPoints are valid for 12 months. Elite members‘ points don’t expire. Can also extend with qualifying activity.Hold the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card.
Jumeirah SiriusPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Stay at a Jumeirah hotel, resort, or residence worldwide.
Marriott BonvoyPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with a qualifying stay.Make a purchase on the co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.
MGM Resorts International MGM RewardsPoints and Express Comps are valid for 6 to 12 months, depending on elite status.Play a slot machine or table game at a property in the brand.
Omni Select GuestFree nights are valid for 12 to 24 months, depending on elite status.No way to extend.
Preferred Hotels I Prefer Hotel RewardsPoints are valid for 24 months and can be extended with qualifying activity.Make an eligible stay or point redemption into a Reward Certificate.
Radisson RewardsPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Purchase 1,000 Radisson Rewards points.
Shangri-La Golden CirclePoints are valid for up to 3 calendar years.No way to extend.
Sonesta Travel PassPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Accrue or redeem points at least once.
World of HyattPoints are valid for 24 months. Can extend with qualifying activity.Make a purchase on The World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Wyndham RewardsPoints are valid for at least 18 months. Can extend with qualifying activity for a total validity of up to 4 years.Make a purchase on the Barclays co-branded Wyndham Rewards credit cards.

Hotel Brands With the Best Expiration Policies

Best Western
Image Credit: Best Western

The program with the single best expiration policy is Best Western Rewards. Its points never expire, which is fantastic. The runner-up is Sonesta Travel Pass, which is valid for 36 months and can be extended with qualifying activity.

As far as the top major points-friendly hotel brands, IHG One Rewards has the most advantageous policy for its credit card holders — miles never expire if you’ve got Silver Elite status or higher.

If you don’t have any hotel credit cards, the best expiration policies among the points-friendly hotel brands are World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy, both of which have a 24-month validity period and easy ways to extend points expiration.

Hotel Brands With the Worst Expiration Policies

Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Image Credit: Caesars Palace

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the major casino brands, Caesars Rewards from Caesars Entertainment and MGM Rewards from MGM Resorts International, have the worst expiration policies.

Both of these have 6-month expiration policies for standard members, which is extremely short.

Final Thoughts

We analyzed the major airline frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs out there. With so much differentiation between the terms and conditions of booking programs, it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of your points and miles.

That being said, what we’ve provided here is a one-stop shop to find out when your miles and points expire. We’ve also provided you with some easy ways to extend or reset the expiration dates of the major miles. Some programs don’t allow mileage extensions at all, but others do.

Now you can rest easy and avoid the headache of trying to find out when your points expire!

The information regarding the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® and Expedia® Rewards Card from Citi was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

The information regarding the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding The World of Hyatt Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep airline miles from expiring?

Most of the time, you can prevent airline miles from expiring via a “qualifying activity.” The definition of qualifying activity varies by airline, but generally, it means any sort of activity in which you earn or spend miles. Some exceptions include LATAM Pass, where you have to fly a LATAM-marketed flight to have qualifying activity.

How do I find out when my miles expire?

Some frequent flyer programs will automatically calculate when your miles will expire. Examples of this include American Airlines AAdvantage, which will display the expiration dates upon logging into your online account. Other times, you have to reference the chart and calculate the expiration date from your most recent activity.

Which airline miles do not expire?

Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus miles, and JetBlue TrueBlue points do not expire.

Which airlines' miles expire?

Almost all of the airlines have expiration policies for their miles. The exceptions are China Eastern Eastern Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Which hotel's points expire?

All of the major hotel points with the exception of Best Western Rewards points expire. Reference our table in this guide to figure out when exactly they’ll expire.

Which hotel points do not expire?

The only major hotel points that don’t expire are Best Western Rewards points.

When do my hotel points expire?

To find out when your hotel points expire, reference the chart in this guide. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to calculate a date given your last earning or redeeming activity. Some hotel loyalty programs have an online display of when your miles will expire.

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About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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