You’ve made the leap into travel hacking and have begun earning miles and points for travel. Congratulations!
Maybe you’ve opened a few travel rewards credit cards and earned the sign-up bonus after meeting the minimum spend. The travel goal you set from the beginning is starting to come into focus.
You log in to your loyalty account, giddy at the sight of your miles and points balance. Suddenly, though, your eyes glimpse a small bit of information. You pause, then squint and lean into the computer screen. Your heart beat quickens and you swallow hard as the reality sets in.
You’re on the brink of making the worst travel hacking mistake. How did you not realize that your miles and points were set to expire?!?
You begin to Google search airline and hotel loyalty program expiration dates. “Of course, airlines and hotel loyalty programs have their own rules about miles and points and when they expire,” you mutter to yourself in a clench-mouthed whisper.
Here’s the information to know about airline loyalty programs and their expiration dates.
|Alaska||Earn or spend 1 mile every 24 months|
|American||Earn or redeem miles on American or a partner once every 18 months|
|British Airways||Collect, spend, purchase, or share at least 1 Avios every 36 months|
|Delta||Do not expire|
|Flying Blue / KLM||Take at least one flight every 20 months on Air France or any Skyteam partner|
|Hawaiian||Earn or redeem miles once every 18 months|
|Jet Blue||Do not expire|
|Southwest||Earn at least 1 mile every 24 months|
|Spirit||Earn at least 1 mile every 3 months|
|United||Earn or use miles at least once every 18 months|
|Hilton||Stay, earn, or redeem once every 12 months|
|Hyatt||Inactive accounts may be deleted and all points forfeited if there is 12 months with no activity|
|Marriott||Earn or redeem points once every 24 months|
|IHG||Earn or redeem points once every 12 months|
You also promise yourself to finally sign up for AwardWallet, one of the easiest ways to track many of your miles and points balances, as well as when they’re set to expire.
With the time that’s passed, your frustration has turned to determination. You’re going to save your miles and points, without having to pay any of those pesky loyalty account reinstatement fees.
You begin to think about your loyalty accounts and all the proven ways to reset the expiration date on your balances.
1. You can use your miles and points or pay for a flight or hotel stay. Seemingly the most obvious on the list, but still important to mention.
If you book award travel with your miles and points for an upcoming trip, your miles and points typically don’t expire. The same goes for paying for an upcoming flight or hotel stay. The miles and points you earn for paying cash will deposit into your loyalty account and reset the expiration date.
2. You can shop through a shopping portal.
Many airlines and hotels have shopping portals where you can earn miles or points for making a purchase at any of the thousands of merchants. You already shop at many of them, so why not earn for travel, too?
Once you make a purchase, the miles and points will be deposited directly into your loyalty account and the expiration date will reset.
3. You can dine at a participating restaurant in the dining program.
Similar to shopping portals, airlines and hotels have dining programs where you can earn miles and points every time you dine at a restaurant in the rewards network.
Join the dining program for free and start earning! Every time you dine at one of the restaurants, your miles and points earned will be deposited directly into your loyalty account and the expiration clock will begin anew.
4. You can take advantage of the airline’s or hotel’s partners.
Shopping portals and dining programs aren’t the only way to earn miles and points. There are often many other airline and hotel partners that allow you to maximize your earnings. With United’s partners, for example, you can order flowers from FTD, sign up for Directv, book a rental car, order wine, and even take surveys to earn miles and points.
Every time these miles and points are earned, the life span of your loyalty account refreshes itself.
5. You can make a purchase with your co-branded airline or hotel credit card.
If you’re in the habit of collecting miles and points, it’s pretty likely you have a few airline or hotel credit cards. Use your co-branded card to make a purchase for something small. Even spending just $1 will succeed in pushing back your loyalty program’s expiration date and save your miles and points.
6. You can transfer points from a credit card to a loyalty program.
The points you earn with these credit card companies don’t expire unless you close your card.
If your miles and points are set to expire in a loyalty account, transfer the smallest increment allowed from your Chase, Citi, or American Express account into the airline or hotel program you wish and it will reset the expiration date on your account.
7. You can buy miles or points.
While obviously a last resort, airlines and hotels do sell miles and points in set increments. If none of the above options work for you and the only choices you have are to buy miles and points or to let your entire stash expire, then buy the smallest amount possible.
Spending the money is better than losing miles and points that could’ve been used for a free flight or hotel stay.
Your loyalty accounts are intact. Your miles and points have been saved. Take a moment to smile, but remember jet-setting off for some free travel courtesy of your miles and points will be even sweeter.
How have you kept your miles and points from expiring?
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