Do Airline Miles Expire? What You Need To Know

Do Airline Miles Expire? What You Need To Know

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For those of us into collecting miles & points, one thing to always be on the lookout for is mileage expiration policies. Programs have different policies when it comes to whether miles expire, and if so, what activity will prevent your miles from expiring.

Even as someone who probably dedicates way too much time to loyalty programs, I’ve had airline miles expire on me, and it’s such a frustrating feeling. In this post I wanted to take a close look at airline mileage expiration policies. When do airline miles expire, and what can you do to prevent them from expiring? In a separate post I looked at hotel points expiration policies.

When do airline miles expire?

The major airline loyalty programs have varying policies when it comes to miles expiring. The policies most commonly fit into one of three categories (in order of generosity, starting with the best policy):

  • Miles don’t expire, with no need for activity
  • Miles expire after a certain amount of time, but only if you don’t have any account activity
  • Miles expire after a certain amount of time, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity

With that out of the way, let’s look at the policies of the major airline loyalty programs.

Air Canada Aeroplan points expiration policy

Air Canada Aeroplan points expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any points earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your points by a further 18 months.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue mileage expiration policy

Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles expire after 24 months of inactivity. Note that only select activity can reset the expiration of your miles, and that includes crediting a flight to the program, or earning miles with a co-branded Air France-KLM credit card. Other points earning activity won’t reset the expiration of your miles.

Alaska Mileage Plan mileage expiration policy

Alaska Mileage Plan miles don’t expire. However, if you don’t have any account activity for over two years, your account may be locked for security reasons, and your miles may be accessed by contacting Mileage Plan and verifying personal details.

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club mileage expiration policy

All Nippon Airways Mileage Club miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further. The only exception is for million miler members, as their miles never expire.

American AAdvantage mileage expiration policy

American AAdvantage miles expire after 24 months of inactivity. Any mileage earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your miles by a further 24 months. Furthermore, AAdvantage members under the age of 21, as well as primary cardmembers on a co-branded American Airlines credit card from Barclays or Citi won’t have their miles expire, regardless of account activity.

Avianca LifeMiles mileage expiration policy

Avianca LifeMiles expire after 12 months of inactivity. Note that only earning miles will extend the expiration of your miles by a further 12 months, as redeeming miles doesn’t change your mileage expiration (unlike with most other programs).

British Airways Executive Club Avios expiration policy

British Airways Executive Club Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity. Any Avios earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your Avios by a further 36 months.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles mileage expiration policy

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any mileage earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your mileage by a further 18 months.

Delta SkyMiles mileage expiration policy

Delta SkyMiles don’t expire, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity.

Emirates Skywards mileage expiration policy

Emirates Skywards miles expire roughly three years after they’re earned. I say “roughly,” because in reality they expire at the end of your birthday month three years after they’re earned. In other words, if you earned miles on January 1, 2024, and your birthday is on April 1, then your miles would expire on April 30, 2027. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further without paying extra.

The only exception is that Emirates Skywards Platinum members aren’t subject to mileage expiration policies for as long as they maintain the status.

Etihad Guest mileage expiration policy

Etihad Guest miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any mileage earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your miles by a further 18 months. Note that as of June 2024, Etihad Guest is adjusting its mileage expiration policy, and the only way to extend the expiration of miles will be to take a flight with Etihad or a partner airline.

EVA Air Infinity MileageLands mileage expiration policy

EVA Air Infinity MileageLands miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further.

Finnair Plus Avios expiration policy

Finnair Plus Avios expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any Avios earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your Avios by a further 18 months.

Iberia Plus Avios expiration policy

Iberia Plus Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity. Any Avios earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your Avios by a further 36 months.

JetBlue TrueBlue points expiration policy

JetBlue TrueBlue points don’t expire, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity.

Lufthansa Miles & More mileage expiration policy

Lufthansa Miles & More miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further. The only exceptions are for Miles & More elite members, and those holding a co-branded Lufthansa credit card.

Qantas Frequent Flyer points expiration policy

Qantas Frequent Flyer points expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any points earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your points by a further 18 months.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios expiration policy

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios expire after 36 months of inactivity. Any Avios earning or redemption activity resets the expiration of your Avios by a further 36 months.

Singapore KrisFlyer mileage expiration policy

Singapore KrisFlyer miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further. The only exception is for PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club members, as miles don’t expire for these members.

Southwest Rapid Rewards points expiration policy

Southwest Rapid Rewards points don’t expire, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity.

Turkish Miles&Smiles mileage expiration policy

Turkish Miles&Smiles miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. This is a hard expiration, and there’s no way to extend your miles further without paying a fee.

United MileagePlus mileage expiration policy

United MileagePlus miles don’t expire, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points expiration policy

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points don’t expire, regardless of whether or not you have any account activity.

JetBlue TrueBlue points don’t expire

How do you prevent airline miles from expiring?

Are you finding yourself in a situation where your airline miles are expiring imminently? As you can see, programs have varying policies, with some programs letting you extend the expiration of your miles in conjunction with account activity.

For those programs, what’s the easiest way to reset your airline mileage expiration? You’ll want to check the policy of each specific program, but here are some methods that generally work:

  • Most airline loyalty programs let you donate miles to charity, so even a small mileage donation could reset your mileage expiration
  • Most airline loyalty programs have online shopping and dining portals, allowing you to earn bonus miles for those activities; that would also reset your mileage expiration
  • Most airline loyalty programs have co-branded credit cards, and any spending on those credit cards would earn miles that would reset your mileage expiration
  • Most airline loyalty programs sell miles directly to consumers, and even buying a small number of miles would reset your mileage expiration
  • Several airline loyalty programs partner with major transferable points currencies, and transferring a small number of of points would reset your mileage expiration
  • This is the most obvious, but redeeming miles for a flight, or taking a flight that earns you miles, would also reset your mileage expiration

If you have any airline miles that are close to expiring, just keep in mind how long it could take for miles to post to your account as qualifying activity. For example, if you spend money on a co-branded credit card, it could take weeks before those miles post to your airline account (it usually takes at least until a few days after the statement closes). Meanwhile donating miles to charity, buying miles, or transferring points from another currency, is typically a near instant process in terms of resetting expiration.

Emirates Skywards miles expire after 36 months

Bottom line

Miles earned with airline loyalty programs have varying expiration policies. Some programs don’t expire miles even without activity, other programs only expire miles if you don’t have any activity for a certain period of time, and some programs expire miles after a certain amount of time regardless of activity.

For airline programs that let you reset miles with activity, fortunately that’s quite easy to do, as generally any mileage earning or redemption activity would qualify. Just make sure you always keep an eye on expiration policies.

What has your experience been with airline miles expiring?

Conversations (15)
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  1. Dennis Guest

    I had 85K ANA miles expiring in 3 days with virtually no available flights that fit my schedule. Last resort I converted the miles to $700 Amazon cards. Not the best conversion but at least got some value back.

  2. iamhere Guest

    The interesting part is compared to hotels the policies are less than consistent between airlines. Some that give you bad benefits as a member have a good expiry policy for example.

  3. Caroline Guest

    How about a transfer from BA to Iberia for ex? Would this reset the clock?

    1. Sonny Member

      I always heard it does not reset the clock. But I've never tried in first hand.

  4. KingBob Guest

    What about Frontier?
    Some of us actually fly on Frontier and prior to covid they would expire in 6 months.
    Not sure anymore.

  5. Wade Guest

    Correction: Avianca LifeMiles clock resets after transferring miles from transfer partners (Citi, AMEX, etc... ).

  6. Bart Guest

    A table summarizing everything would be nice!

  7. A_Japanese Gold

    Correction: ANA miles will also never expire as long as you keep Diamond status with ANA mileage club and once you become Platinum or lower, ANA miles will expire after 36 months since your status changes.

    https://www.ana.co.jp/fr/fr/amc/premium-members/benefits/various-benefits/#anchor-extended-expiration-date

  8. Jones Guest

    Air France-KLM Flying Blue mileage expiration policy

    There are are 2 types of miles - flight/card miles and all other types of miles. Flight/card activity will extend the validity of all miles whereas all other miles activity will only extend the validity of all other miles. I, personally, don't have any non-flight/card miles so can't comment on how easy it is to distinguish between the 2 types of miles but I can see how these...

    Air France-KLM Flying Blue mileage expiration policy

    There are are 2 types of miles - flight/card miles and all other types of miles. Flight/card activity will extend the validity of all miles whereas all other miles activity will only extend the validity of all other miles. I, personally, don't have any non-flight/card miles so can't comment on how easy it is to distinguish between the 2 types of miles but I can see how these "Overall extending activities" and "Partial extending activities" could cause confusion.

  9. Khatl Diamond

    Does transferring miles reset the clock e.g., transfers between people in an Air France household accounts or BA-Finnair-Qatar transfers?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Khatl -- Generally any sort of free transfers between accounts doesn't reset the expiration, in my experience. It needs to be something that actually leads to miles being generated or redeemed.

    2. Khatl Diamond

      Maybe it's a post-COVID thing, but I don't have any AF card or flight activity (other than redemptions) in at least 3 years but my expiration is July 2025, yet I have no activity within months around July 2023 except for a CapOne transfer and bonus.

    3. Khatl Diamond

      Maybe it's as Jones suggests.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Khatl -- Added Cathay Pacific now, thanks!

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Sonny Member

I always heard it does not reset the clock. But I've never tried in first hand.

0
Dennis Guest

I had 85K ANA miles expiring in 3 days with virtually no available flights that fit my schedule. Last resort I converted the miles to $700 Amazon cards. Not the best conversion but at least got some value back.

0
iamhere Guest

The interesting part is compared to hotels the policies are less than consistent between airlines. Some that give you bad benefits as a member have a good expiry policy for example.

0
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