How to get your points and miles back after they expire
No one likes when their hard-earned points and miles expire. Fortunately, some programs, like HawaiianMiles, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus, have eliminated mileage expiration in the last several years.
However, your rewards from most loyalty programs may still expire. Some may expire if you don't keep your account active, while others may expire a set amount of time after you earn them.
It's generally in your best interest to keep your points and miles from expiring. But some programs allow you to reinstate your rewards after they've expired. So in this guide, we'll highlight some ways to get your rewards back after they've expired.
Should you pay to reinstate your points and miles?
Overall, recovering expired rewards through a buyback option can be costly. You need to carefully consider if it's worth incurring this expense for the potential value you can derive from your reinstated rewards.
Refer to TPG's monthly valuations to get an idea of the approximate worth of your points and miles. If the cost per reinstated point or mile exceeds these valuations, buying back your expired rewards is generally not advisable.
Related: Devaluation after devaluation, 8 TPG staffers share their favorite award redemptions that are still around
How to reinstate expired airline miles
Several airlines allow you to reinstate miles for a fee after they've expired. Each airline has its own fee structure; some charge a flat fee, while others calculate their fee based on the miles you reinstate.
Airlines that don't have a published reinstatement policy may still show travelers flexibility on a case-by-case basis. For instance, a couple of years ago, some TPG readers reported that British Airways reinstated their expired Avios without any fees. So, it's worth contacting your airline to see about reinstating your expired miles, even if it doesn't have a published policy.
Now, let's explore some major airlines offering options for recovering expired points or miles.
Air Canada Aeroplan
- Expiration policy: 18 months from last activity; can extend with activity.
Air Canada Aeroplan has paused the expiration of its points until Sept. 30, 2024. But if your Aeroplan points expire once this pause ends, you can reinstate them by paying 1 cent per point plus a $30 fee and taxes.
Another option to reinstate your points is flying Air Canada within six months of their expiration. If you do so, Aeroplan will reinstate your expired points. You can book your flight after your points expire, but travel must occur within the six months following the expiration of your points.
If you're under 18, have Aeroplan elite status or are the primary cardholder on an Aeroplan cobranded card like the Aeroplan® Credit Card, your points won't expire.
Related: 5 of the best ways to redeem 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points
- Expiration policy: 24 months from last activity; can extend with activity.
American AAdvantage members can pay a reactivation fee to reinstate their miles. If you lost American miles to expiration within the last 24 months, go to American's website to check your options.
While American doesn't publish what it charges to reactivate expired miles, Travel Summary reported these fees for 113,864 expired miles in July 2022:
- 5,000 miles: $60.
- 10,000 miles: $100.
- 15,000 miles: $150.
- 25,000 miles: $225.
- 50,000 miles: $400.
- 75,000 miles: $550.
- 100,000 miles: $700.
- 113,864 miles: $1,000.
If you're under 21 or are an eligible primary cardholder on a cobranded American AAdvantage credit card, your miles won't expire.
Related: Best uses of American Airlines miles
- Expiration policy: 12 months from last activity; can extend with accrual activity.
Avianca LifeMiles charges $10 per 1,000 miles, plus taxes, to reinstate miles.
If you're an Avianca elite member or hold an Avianca credit card, your miles expire 24 months after your last activity, up from 12 months for general LifeMiles members.
Related: Use Avianca LifeMiles to save on United domestic short-haul awards
- Expiration policy: At the end of the month in which you were born three calendar years from the date of travel; not extended with activity.
You can reinstate up to 50,000 Emirates Skywards miles for an extra 12 months by paying $20 per 1,000 miles, but you must do so within six months of their expiration. With a reactivation fee of 2 cents per mile, we don't advise paying to reactivate your Skywards miles since TPG's valuations peg the value of Emirates Skywards miles at 1.2 cents each.
Platinum members are exempt from mileage expiration.
- Expiration policy: Six months from last activity; can extend with accrual activity.
If your Frontier Miles expire, you can reinstate them for $50 to $500, depending on the number of miles.
|Number of Frontier Miles||Reinstatement fee|
|1 to 25,000 miles.||$50.|
|25,001 to 50,000 miles.||$100.|
|50,001 to 75,000 miles.||$150.|
|75,001 to 100,000 miles.||$200.|
|100,001 to 125,000 miles.||$250.|
|125,001 to 150,000 miles.||$300.|
|150,001 to 175,000 miles.||$350.|
|175,001 to 200,000 miles.||$400.|
|200,001 to 250,000 miles.||$450.|
|250,001 or more miles.||$500.|
Based on TPG's valuations, Frontier Miles are worth about 1.1 cents each. So calculate your reactivation cost per mile and the value of your anticipated redemption. In some cases, it might be worthwhile to reactivate expired Frontier Miles.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
- Expiration policy: 36 months from earning; not extended with activity.
You can extend the validity of Turkish Airlines miles for another three years if you pay $20 per 1,000 miles. Like Emirates, the 2 cents per mile Turkish Airlines charges for extending its miles is significantly higher than our 1.3 cent valuation of Turkish Airlines miles.
Airline miles that don't expire
As mentioned, several airline loyalty programs have eliminated mileage expiration. These programs include Alaska Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United MileagePlus.
Related: TPG's guide to getting started with points, miles and credit cards
How to reinstate expired hotel points
Hilton Honors is the only major hotel rewards program that allows you to reinstate expired points.
Hilton points expire if you don't have any eligible account activity for 24 months. But you may be able to reinstate expired Hilton points on Hilton's website. Generally, reinstating Hilton points costs 0.25 cents per point. But, some FlyerTalk users have reported Hilton's customer service may reinstate points without a charge.
Related: 8 ways to maximize Hilton Honors redemptions
How to keep points and miles from expiring
Although some loyalty programs allow you to reinstate expired rewards, it's best to keep your points and miles from expiring in the first place.
Many programs extend the expiration of your points and miles with activity, so one of the easiest ways to keep rewards from expiring is to keep earning and redeeming them. For example, you can:
- Book travel using your expiring rewards.
- Spend on cobranded airline credit cards or hotel credit cards.
- Transfer rewards into or out of your account.
- Use the program's online shopping portal or dining rewards program.
Related: What happens to your points and miles after you die?
It's generally not ideal to pay to reinstate expired points and miles. When deciding whether to reinstate your rewards, focus on determining whether the value you can derive from your rewards justifies the reinstatement cost.
Remember, the best approach is to prevent your points and miles from expiring in the first place, as that will save you from the hassle and expenses of reinstatement.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal.