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Following up on the recent national survey I commissioned from The Princeton Group and my contest about how people track their frequent flyer miles, I thought it would be a good idea to create a basic guide to the expiration policies of the major airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Although mileage expiration is a major concern and it looks like miles will only be active for a limited time under the strictest interpretation of these guidelines, miles and points expiration is in fact a lot more flexible than that, and often all you have to do is earn as little as a single point or mile in order to keep your points active and reset the expiration clock.
That’s where co-branded credit cards come in handy since often the points and miles you earn on purchases counts towards your mileage/points expiration qualification, so each time you make a purchase, you reset the clock. Transferable points such as Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest points are also valuable because if you carry a credit card that accrues any of these points, they can help you keep your miles active with a single points transfer.
You can also check out this post on shopping portals and this post on dining rewards networks, as well as this top 10 list of mistakes people make with their airline miles for more ideas about how to track your points and miles and keep them from expiring so you can put them to use when you need them.
Today, here’s a list of the rules of the major airlines on miles expiration, and stay tuned for the list of hotel points expiration policies tomorrow.
|Air Canada (Aeroplan)||12 months/7 years|
|Alaska Airlines||24 months|
|Alitalia||24 months within current 5 year period/6 months after previous period ends|
|American Airlines||18 months|
|British Airways||36 months|
|Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)||36 months|
|Delta (Sky Miles)||No expiration|
|Flying Blue: Air France/KLM||20 months|
|Hawaiian Airlines||18 months|
|Korean Air||7 years|
|Lufthansa (Miles & More)||36 months|
|Singapore Airlines||36 months|
|United Airlines||18 months|
|US Airways||18 months|
|Virgin America||18 months|
|Virgin Atlantic||36 months|
Alaska Airlines: If no mileage is credited to your account during the first 9 months after opening, or if your account is inactive for longer than 2 years, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan reserves the right to delete your account and reassign the number. If mileage has been deleted from your account, you can reinstate it for up to one year by paying a $75 fee.
American Airlines: Your AAdvantage miles do not expire as long as you have qualifying account activity at least once every 18 months.
Delta: Under the SkyMiles Mileage expiration policy, miles do not expire.
Hawaiian Airlines: Any earning or redemption activity will prevent your miles from expiring for 18 months.
JetBlue: Points don’t expire as long as you earn points by flying JetBlue at least once in a 12-month period.
Southwest Airlines: Points don’t expire as long as you have flight or partner earning activity every 24 months.
United Airlines: Mileage accrued shall only be subject to expiration on the last day of the eighteen (18) months after the last account activity in the member’s account. Activity includes flying, using your MileagePlus credit card and more. In cases where mileage is for any reason removed from an account, such as for the redemption of awards, and later returned, the return of the mileage to the account shall not count as account activity.
US Airways: Since January 31, 2007, active membership status is based on having earned or redeemed miles within a consecutive 18-month period. Miles are subject to forfeiture if no miles have been earned or redeemed within a consecutive 18-month period.
Virgin America: As an Elevate member, you can retain all of your Elevate points as long as you have earning or redemption activity posted on your own Elevate account at least once every 18 months. So the expiration of your points will extend for another 18 months with any qualifying activity posted on your own Elevate account such as flights on Virgin America, completed reward travel, or through earning points on your Virgin America credit card or other partners.
Aeromexico: Your Premier Kilometers never expire but you do need to make at least one AM code flight with a paid ticket every 24 months.
Aeroplan: All mileage in an account expires if the Aeroplan member has not accumulated or redeemed Aeroplan Miles for a period of 12 consecutive months. Mileage may expire without further notice. Mileage in an account expires 7 years (84 months) after the date of accumulation. Mileage accumulated in an account prior to January 1, 2007 is deemed to have an accumulation date of December 31, 2006 (regardless of the actual mileage accumulation date). Mileage may expire without further notice.
Alitalia: The edition 2008-2012 of the MilleMiglia Program ended on December 31st 2012, in compliance with the Italian law that regulates reward operations (Italian Presidential Decree no. 430 of Oct. 26, 2001), which has established a maximum time limit of 5 years. All miles earned with Alitalia and/or Partner Airlines from January 1st 2008 to December 31st 2012 must be used by June 30th 2013 to apply for the rewards foreseen by the Program. After June 30th 2013, any residual miles will expire and will be deleted from the Member’s account. The 2013-2015 MilleMiglia Regulations also foresee the expiration of the miles due to Account inactivity: if no miles earned with Alitalia, Air One or one of the Program’s commercial airline partners have been registered on the Member’s account within the past 24 months, any miles present will be deleted.
ANA: Mileage is valid until the end of the 36th month counting from the month a service or a product was used to earn miles. ANA is not responsible for expired mileage.
British Airways: Your Avios points stay with you as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months — any longer and your Avios will expire and be removed, so remember to take action before those three years are up.
Cathay Pacific: Asia Miles are valid for three years from the month mileage is credited. Simply click “When do your miles expire?” in the Asia Miles Summary Box on “Your Marco Polo Club Account” to instantly view the specific expiry dates for all of your Asia Miles.
Emirates: Your Skywards Miles are valid for three years from the date on which they are credited to your account. Miles due to expire will be removed from your account once each calendar year, at the end of the month in which you were born.
Flying Blue Air France/KLM): As a Flying Blue member, your Award Miles are valid for life and will never expire, simply by taking one flight every 20 months on AIR FRANCE, KLM, our partners Air Europa, Kenya Airways, Aircalin and TAROM or any other of our SkyTeam partners.
Korean Air: Mileage earned in Korean Air’s SKYPASS program on or after July 1, 2008 has a validity of ten years and any unredeemed mileage will expire. Mileage earned on or before June 30, 2008 will not expire. The ten-year validity is calculated from the date of travel on Korean Air and partner airlines.
LAN: The kilometers earned by flying oneworld Airlines or Associated Airlines, or Partner Companies, using any services of the Partner Companies or promotional bonuses, are valid for 3 calendar years, which means that they shall expire on the 31st of December of the third year in which they were earned.
Lufthansa: Any mileage not redeemed within 36 months of the date of accrual (date of flight, start of hotel stay, time of car rental) will expire at the end of that quarter (e.g. miles expiring in August of any given year would expire at the end of September of that same year), failing other arrangements published in the Miles & More communication media. Attention will be drawn in good time to the date and extent of the lapsed mileage in the Miles & More account information or in the personal Internet mileage account.
Qantas: Your points won’t expire as long as you keep your account active by earning or using points at least once every 18 months, rather than every three years.
Singapore Airlines: KrisFlyer accounts which have activity are valid for 36 months from the end of the month in which the last activity occurred, after which the membership accounts will expire. KrisFlyer accounts which do not have any activity for a period of 18 months since enrollment will expire after that period of 18 months.
Virgin Atlantic: Your miles will not expire providing that your account remains active. To keep your account active, you need to continue to earn or redeem Flying Club miles, as each mileage transaction will ensure you a further 36 months of active Flying Club miles.