January 29th, 2012

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TPG reader James writes:

“What is the best way to avoid miles/points from expiring? Does transferring a small amount to the particular account from either Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards extend the lifetime?”

Yes, transferring points from American Express, Chase or a hotel program to an airline, will generally reset the expiration clock. Additionally, purchasing an item though the online shopping portals and thus earning miles through that method will also extend the expiration. Apple iTunes is a merchant on most portals, so buying a single song can keep your miles/points active – something most people don’t realize.

There are, however, exceptions such as Singapore Airlines miles which expire after three years from when they are earned. They can be extended once for 6 months (12 months for elites), but after that you lose them. I recommend checking the expiration policy for your airline just to be safe. Some airlines, like Delta, don’t have expiration dates and this Wikipedia post has a rundown of expiration policies of most major frequent flyer programs.

I recommend using an online mileage tracker like Award Wallet, which will alert you if any of your mileage balances are in risk of expiration.

As a last resort option, you can also swap points on points.com, though swapping large balances is generally a bad deal. However, letting miles expire is the worst possible deal and basically amounts to throwing money in the trash.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74%-19.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
3.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.