Airline Program points expiration policies


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.

Expiration Policies

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
Delta Skymiles No
United Mileageplus miles Yes 18 months of inactivity. Yes – with fee

Avoiding Expiration

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.

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About Author

Mark is the founder of FlyStayPoints, and caught the travel bug early in life. He discovered the benefits of travel loyalty programs in 2001, and is always learning how they can make travel better. While work takes him between Perth and Melbourne, he is always plotting his next adventure.