A common feature of many frequent flyer programs is that your hard earned points can expire on you If you look at airline Facebook pages, you’ll see how common it is for people to fall victim to these policies. One day, there is a nice points balance, and then the next day they are gone.
Understanding the expiration policy used by the various programs goes a long way to prevening this in the first place. If you know when they are set to expire, you will be better at managing your account.
While this is true that programs outside of airline schemes have expiration policies, this post will focus on airline programs. Another post that will outline the hotel program policies will follow at a later date.
It is important to note that there are two main models used by airlines for their policies.
Firstly, some programs have a policy where the points will all expire after a period of inactivity. This is used by Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity and common to Velocity and Qantas, although the specific differ between programs.
Another model is one in which points are given an expiry date. This is the model used by airlines such as Singapore Airlines or Malaysia Airlines.
In some cases, there are options to extend the life of the miles or points in an account. Normally, this requires a fee of some kind to be paid. Again, the policy on this varies between programs.
|Rewards Program||Do points expire?||After how long?||Can Extend?|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||Yes||18 months of inactivity||No|
|Velocity Frequent Flyer||Yes||36 months of inactivity||No|
|Air NZ AirPoints||Yes||Points earned more than 4 years prior will expire of membership anniversary date.||No|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Yes||36 months from month miles are earned.||Yes – with fee|
|Malaysia Airlines Enrich||Yes||36 months from month miles are earned||Yes – with fee|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Yes||36 months from month miles are earned||Yes – with fee|
|Alaska Mileage Plan miles||Yes||24 months of inactivity||Yes – with fee|
|American Airlines AAdvantage miles||Yes||18 months of inactivity.||Yes – with fee|
|United Mileageplus miles||Yes||18 months of inactivity.||Yes – with fee|
For programs where the points themselves have a specified lifetime, your only real option is to ensure that the points get used before they expire.
In the case of program that have a policy based on account activity, it is important to understand what the program defines activity to be. While this generally means either earning or using points, there are some exclusions. For example, Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer both exclude points received as a family transfer as counting towards activity.
Basically, you need to ensure that you earn points somewhere. Even if you can’t fly, there are a number of other options. Each program has a group of partners that will allow you to earn points. These partners include car rental companies, credit card partners, online shopping and so on.