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It can be hard work to accumulate miles and points from your travels and credit card spending. You eventually plan on using these rewards to pay for your future travel. For that to happen, you need to take these steps to protect your miles and points from expiring.
Track Your Rewards Accounts
The easiest way to let your miles and points expire is by forgetting you even have them in the first place. Making a list or spreadsheet of all the programs you have points is a great first step. You can also use a software like AwardWallet to help track your points.
How in-depth your list depends on your personal preference. You might decide to only jot down the program name and your membership number on a piece of paper, a Word document, or a smartphone note. Or, you might decide to create a working Excel spreadsheet that includes a running tally of your current points balance for each program.
Pay Attention to Expiration Policies
Every airline and hotel have a different rewards point expiration policy. While a few still don’t have an expiration date, most points and miles will expire after 12 or 24 months of inactivity.
You can find this information in the loyalty program FAQs or the program terms and conditions.
Earn or Spend Points
The easiest way to keep your points active and from expiring is to earn points by making a purchase or redeeming points for award travel. In most cases each time your point balance changes, the expiration clock will reset.
Some of the best ways to keep your miles & points from expiring include:
- Making a travel reservation
- Using the co-branded credit card
- Buy points
- Shop through their shopping portal
- Take a survey for points
- Sign up for dining clubs
Even if you don’t plan on traveling with a particular airline or hotel in the next year, they often offer several ways to earn points without having to buy an actual plane ticket or a hotel night that can cost hundreds of dollars.
Most, if not all, programs will never let your points expire if you periodically buy additional points or use their shopping portal that allows you to earn miles when you shop online at many national retailers. In some shopping portals, you can even buy just one Itunes song to reset your expiration date.
After all, a $5 or $10 purchase can be a relatively cheap “maintenance fee” to keep your point balance intact.
Link Your Travel Accounts
You can also link your travel accounts to earn points from other travel purchases. Several airlines and hotels have a dining program that allows you to link your credit card to the rewards program. Each time you eat at a participating restaurant, points are deposited into your account automatically.
This tactic can also be used for rental car companies. Some rental car agencies partner with airlines and hotels and will reward you with their respective miles and points instead of rental car points. As airline and hotel points can be much more valuable, this can be an easy tradeoff to make.
Use a Co-Branded Credit Card
Another easy way to protect your miles and points is to apply for a travel credit card. As long as you own the co-branded airline or hotel rewards card, you point balance will never expire. And, you earn points with every purchase.
Tip: This is especially true with banks branded programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards points expiration, and other points systems.
Some loyalty programs offer fee-free credit cards that make great secondary credit cards. Making a purchase on one of these cards at least once a year will ensure that your points are protected.
Regarding credit cards that charge an annual fee, you will need to decide if the credit card fee is worth the tradeoff of knowing your points will not expire. Airline travel cards will also include perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, or lounge passes to add additional value, if you fly with them during the calendar year.
Hotel credit cards offer a free hotel night that easily pays for the annual fee. Even if you don’t use the credit cards to make any purchase during the year, you can still redeem the reward night and keep your point balance with either program.
Transfer Points to Protect Your Miles & Points From Expiring
Another protection option is to transfer points to your airline and hotel loyalty programs. The easiest way is to sign up for a travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred that allows you to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on a 1:1 basis to one of 11 airline and hotel travel partners. This can be a wise option if you have points from Southwest Airlines, United, Hyatt, IHG, or Marriott because they are exclusive Chase travel partners.
If you want to transfer points to Delta, Emirates, or Etihad, you can also apply for the Platinum Card from American Express. You can also transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to several other airline loyalty programs too.
Another benefit of owning a flexible travel rewards credit card is you earn rewards points on each purchase. These points can be redeemed for travel directly from the credit card travel portal or by making unlimited transfers to any of the travel partners.
Your credit card rewards points will never expire as long as you own the card. If you plan to cancel your rewards card, be sure to transfer the points to avoid losing them.
Redeem Points for Gift Cards and Magazine Subscriptions
Another option is to redeem your points for non-travel rewards. Unless your only option is to redeem points or lose them, this is generally a bad redemption option since it takes so many points to earn a gift card or subscription.
You might consider this option if you are going to cancel your account and don’t want to see your point balance vanish.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.