Disclaimer: The information provided on FreePassengers.com is for informational purposes only.  It should not be considered legal or financial advice.  You should consult with a financial advisor or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. 

Do points and miles expire?

They certainly can, however if/when they expire—and how expiration can be avoided—depends on the expiration policy of each rewards program.

Credit card rewards programs (such as AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards) will typically not have an expiration date for their points as long as you have a qualifying credit card account active with the program. So if you have an active Chase Sapphire Referred card with a bunch of Ultimate Rewards points, your points will never expire as long as your card account remains open.

Airline rewards programs usually have expirations of 18-36 months, although some programs (like Delta SkyMiles) have no expiration. To avoid expiration, most programs simply require any qualifying activity—such as booking a flight with the airline, redeeming a flight award, or even making a purchase with the airline’s co-branded credit card. The activity will reset the clock on the expiration date, making it easy to avoid having your miles expire.

Hotel rewards programs tend to have tighter expiration windows than airline programs, normally in the 12-24 month range. Fortunately, expiration can also be avoided in the same way as airline programs.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises and manage your point balances efficiently, it’s essential to stay informed on the policies of all the programs you use. And remember that the expirations listed above might not be true for all programs; individual programs may have different policies with their own unique rules. To help you keep track of upcoming expiration dates, we recommend using a points manager such as AwardWalletPoints.com, and TripIt.

And in the unfortunate event that your miles do expire, all might not be lost.  Some programs have point re-instatement terms that allow you to recover miles that have been lost, although it will usually cost you a fee. In other cases, politely calling and asking might be enough to get your expired points re-added to your account. Re-instating doesn’t always work though—some programs expressly don’t allow it—so do your best to avoid being in that position.