Most airlines, hotels, and credit card companies offer some kind of rewards program to keep loyal customers coming back for more.
And reward programs are extremely popular, offering a huge array of benefits including incredible deals on flights and hotels, first chance at those hard to get concert tickets, or just straight up discounts on merchandise or other goodies.
But it turns out there’s usually some fine print you really need to read, because many of these reward points and miles can actually expire or be lost for a variety of reasons.
Here, we’re going to go over the most popular of the rewards programs offered by airlines, hotels, and credit card companies and help you figure out how to hang on to all those hard earned rewards.
Airline rewards programs
If you travel a lot, airline rewards are the silver lining for having to spend so much time in airports and airplanes. But do your airline points expire? Can they be lost? If so, how can you get around it?
|Airline Rewards Program||Do points expire?||Expiration Policy||More Information|
|Delta SkyMiles||No||N/A||More info|
|United MileagePlus||No||N/A||More info|
|American AAdvantage||Yes||Expiry date is 18 months after the most recent activity in your account.||More info|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||No||N/A||More info|
|Alaska Air Mileage Plan||No, but…||They may close your account if it is inactive for more than 2 years.||More info|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||No||N/A||More info|
This chart is just about whether airline rewards expire or not, but there are other ways you can lose your points or miles.
While Delta SkyMiles do not expire, you will lose your accumulated awards if your account is deactivated or closed for any reason. And they reserve the right to terminate your account for a variety of reasons.
If you haven’t taken the time to read the Delta SkyMiles program rules in a while, you might want to take a look.
Similarly, your United MileagePlus miles won’t expire, but they will be lost if you:
- request that your account be closed,
- fail to respond to repeated communication attempts, or
- break their conduct rules.
The key one to watch out for is the “repeated communication attempts” thing – make sure you keep the contact information in your account up to date, and watch for those emails.
The full United MileagePlus program rules are available if you want to refresh your memory.
American AAdvantage miles can expire, but it’s really easy to avoid. All you have to do is earn or redeem miles on American or with an AAdvantage partner at least once every 18 months.
And of course you don’t have to just use your miles for travel – the AAdvantage program has a variety of redemption options available that will help you keep your account active, including an option to donate to charity.
For more information, head over to the AAdvantage program FAQs.
Southwest Rapid Rewards
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program rules are as straightforward as they come. Rapid Rewards points do not expire, but if you close your account, all your points are lost.
That said, there are a number of reasons they may close your account, which would also cause you to lose all your points, but they’re all fairly standard fare. Still, it might be worth taking a look through the SouthWest Rapid Rewards FAQs if you haven’t in a while.
Alaska Air Mileage Plan
Alaska Air Mileage Plan miles do not expire, but your account can. The fine print on their site explains that if your Mileage Plan account is inactive for 2 years, they may close the account and delete any miles remaining.
Should your account expire and get closed, you will have an opportunity to reinstate your mileage balance for a year, but for a fee. Best to just make sure your account doesn’t go dormant, simply by earning or redeeming miles at least once every 24 months.
If you’re not traveling much, one of the easiest ways to earn miles is by making purchases with the
JetBlue TrueBlue points do not expire, but they will be lost if you close your account. As with other programs, JetBlue reserves the right to close your account for a variety of reasons, so be sure to brush up on the rules every so often.
Related: American Express Rewards: Non-Travel Redemption Options
Hotel rewards programs
If you spend a lot of time on the road (or in the air), you probably also spend a lot of time in hotels. And these days it seems like every hotel chain has a rewards program (some of which are pretty amazing).
Do your hotel reward points expire? And if so, what can you do to keep that from happening?
|Hotel Rewards Program||Do Points Expire?||Expiration Policy||More Information|
|Marriott Bonvoy||Yes||Bonvoy points will be lost if your account is inactive for 24 months.||More info|
|Best Western Rewards||No||N/A||More info|
|Hilton Honors||Yes||Points expire if you do not use your account for 12 months.||N/A|
|IHG Rewards||Yes||Points will expire if your account is inactive for 12 months or longer.||More info|
|Choice Privileges||Yes||All points will be lost if you do not use your account for 18 months.||More info
Let’s dig into the details a bit.
Marriott Bonvoy is one of the most popular hotel reward programs going. Not only are there over 7,000 Marriott properties around the world, their rewards program offers solid value and a decent amount of flexibility.
To hang on to all those hard earned points, however, you have to keep your account active by using it at least once every 24 months. This includes most methods for earning or redeeming points, with a few exceptions.
If you’re not actively travelling, the simplest thing to do is grab one of the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, and use it to make a qualifying purchase at least once every 24 months. Pretty straightforward.
See their terms and conditions for more details.
Best Western Rewards
Best Western Rewards is one of the few programs where points don’t expire, but you will lose them if your account is closed for any reason.
These reasons are the usual sorts of things: you provide false info, break the law in some way, have more than one active Member account, and so on.
Just play fair and all should be well. Check out Best Western Rewards program rules for all the details.
It’s commonly reported that the Hilton Honors program policy is that you’ll lose your points if your account is dormant for 12 months or longer. The problem is that we can’t actually find that information anywhere in the fine print for the program itself.
If you have a link to this info, please share it in the comments.
Either way, keeping your account active is relatively straightforward, by using a Hilton Honors credit card at least once every 12 months.
For other useful information about their program, you should read through the Hilton Honors program terms and conditions. (Remember, if you spot the point expiry stuff in there, be sure to let us know!)
IHG Rewards expire if your account is inactive for 12 months or more. There are only 2 ways to keep your IHG Rewards account active – either stay at one of their hotels, or, more simply, by earning points by using an IHG credit card.
And they’re on to all of the tricks, as well. If you book a hotel stay with points then cancel it, that doesn’t count. You also can’t use one of the annual free nights that are part of your membership for this either. You have to either use your
Read all about it over on the IHG Rewards Club Membership site.
Choice Privileges points are “forfeited” if your account isn’t used for 18 months. Every time you do use your account, the expiration is pushed back by another full 18 months.
Maintaining your account is relatively simple:
- complete a “qualified” stay at one of the hotels,
- redeem points,
- earn points using a
- earn points through one of the partner programs,
- purchase points, or
- refer a friend.
Not all activities will keep your Choice Privileges account active, but it shouldn’t be too tricky to manage.
Credit card rewards programs
Of course, one of the most popular ways to collect rewards points is by using a credit card, and every bank seems to have their own program with their own rules and policies. Here’s a rundown of the most popular.
|Credit Card Rewards Program||Do Points Expire?||Expiration Policy||More Information|
|American Express Membership Rewards||No||N/A||More info
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||No||N/A||More info|
|Citi ThankYou Rewards||Yes, and it’s a bit complicated.||See below for details.||More info|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||No||N/A||More info|
|Discover It Miles||No, but…||They will credit your account with your rewards balance if your account is closed or is inactive for 18 months.||More info|
|Capital One Rewards||No||N/A||More info|
|US Bank FlexPoints||Yes||FlexPoints expire 5 years from the end of the calendar quarter in which they were earned. There is no way to get around this.||More info|
This chart, again, just covers the expiry details, but there are other ways you can lose your credit card reward points if you’re not careful.
American Express Membership Rewards
The American Express Membership Rewards program is hugely popular, and one of our favorites for its incredible value and flexibility.
That said, while Amex rewards points don’t expire, there are a few ways you can lose them if you’re not careful. This includes if your linked credit card account is closed or cancelled, so be sure to read the fine print to make sure you hang on to those super valuable points.
Bank of America Premium Rewards
Bank of America Premium Awards do not expire, but you will lose them if the associated credit card account is closed for any reason (either by you, or by the bank).
Citi ThankYou Rewards
This one’s a little trickier than most. Citi ThankYou Rewards expire depending on how they were earned, and it turns out there are a bunch of different ways to do that. Here’s a quick chart.
|How they were earned||When do they expire?|
|* AT&T Access Card
* AT&T Access More Card
* AT&T Universal Rewards World MasterCard
* CitiBusiness ThankYou Card
* Citi Chairman Card
* Citi Prestige Card
* Citi Rewards
* Citi ThankYou Preferred Card
* Citi Premier Card
|* Citi PremierPass/Expedia Card
* Citi PremierPass/Expedia Card – Elite Level
|If your account is inactive for 18 months|
|* AT&T Universal Business Rewards Card
* Citi Professional with ThankYou Rewards
* CitiBusiness Card with ThankYou Rewards
* CitiBusiness World Card with ThankYou Rewards
* Citibank Checking Accounts
|3 years from the end of the year in which they were earned|
|* AT&T Universal Card
* AT&T Universal Rewards Card
* AT&T Universal Savings and Rewards Card
|5 years from the end of the year in which they were earned|
But really, check out the Citi ThankYou Rewards terms and conditions for all the details.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Similar to other programs, the Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not expire, but if your account is closed for any reason (or, in the event of your tragic demise), you will lose all earned points that haven’t been used.
Luckily their fine print is pretty easy to read, so you might want to take a few minutes to give it a look.
Discover It Miles
Discover deals with its rewards miles a little differently. While they don’t expire, they will credit your account with your rewards balance if your account is closed or is inactive for 18 months. So, you technically lose them, but you do get something for them, which is nice.
If you want to keep your miles as miles, however, just be sure to keep your account active by earning or redeeming miles at least once every 18 months. Of course the easiest way to do this is to use your linked Discover credit card.
The terms and conditions for this program are a refreshingly short single page.
Capital One Rewards
The Capital One Rewards expiration policy is short and sweet. Your rewards do not expire for the life of your account, but you will lose any unredeemed rewards if your account is closed for any reason.
This and other questions are covered in their FAQ.
US Bank FlexPoints
And finally the US Bank FlexPoints rewards program. FlexPoints expire 5 years from the end of the calendar year in which they were earned, and there’s nothing you can do to change this.
If you have FlexPoints that have been hanging around for a few years, do yourself a favor and use them while you can. Of course your account must be open and in good standing to do so.
Rewards programs tend to follow a theme, of sorts – they don’t want your points hanging around forever, and they want you to be actively using your account. Rewards policies tend to reflect these facts.
If you’re not actively using your rewards accounts where you’ve accumulated a useful amount of points, you should really triple check what you need to do to make sure you don’t lose them. The easiest thing? Just remember to use your account every so often to keep it active and open. Also, always read the fine print.