How to Prevent Your Credit Card Rewards From Expiring


5 minute read


Picture This: You’re on your points and miles maximization journey, you’re strategically opening new cards, keeping track of sign-up bonuses, perhaps even diligently using the Card Curator app to manage your points; then you realize you forgot about an account. Those precious points or miles went unused for too long, and expired. 

As you’re on your points and miles maximization journey, one of the most disappointing things that can happen is if your rewards expire. 

That’s why we have compiled a list of the best ways to keep your points and miles active, especially if you’re not ready to cash in on your rewards for travel just yet.

Before we dive into our tips, let’s start with how rewards expire in the first place.

Expiration Policies

Your account status for loyalty programs is either active or inactive, and your rewards expire when your account becomes inactive. Maintaining activity is relatively straightforward; you either earn or spend your points and miles. Most loyalty programs’ points and miles expire after 12 to 24 months of account inactivity.

Here’s a cheat sheet for the expiration policies of major airline and hotel loyalty programs:

American Airlines AAdvantage: 18 months from last activity

Delta SkyMiles: No expiration

Hawaiian Airlines: No expiration

JetBlue TrueBlue: No expiration

Southwest Rapid Rewards: No expiration

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: 24 months from last activity

United MileagePlus: No expiration

Air Canada Aeroplan: Expiration paused until September 30, 2022. Points will then expire 18 months from the last activity.

Hilton Honors: Expiration paused until December 31, 2022. Points will then expire 24 months from the last activity.

World of Hyatt: 24 months from last activity

IHG Rewards: Expiration paused until December 31, 2022. Points will then expire 12 months from the last activity (no expiration for elite members).

Marriott Bonvoy: Expiration paused until December 31, 2022. Points will then expire 24 months from the last activity.

Although spending miles and points on travel related expenses generally gets you the most redemption value, there are alternate ways to maintain an active account status:

Simply Make a Purchase

If you already have a co-branded credit card (a credit card with a partner airline or hotel, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card or the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card), all you have to do is make a purchase with the card. 

For example, take the Hilton Honors program, in which rewards expire in 24 months after no account activity. By using a Hilton credit card like the Hilton Honors American Express Card just once a year, you can then preserve your Hilton points. Indulging in that one extra cup of coffee just became a whole lot more justifiable.

Here you get two benefits: you can build up your rewards balance and prevent rewards from expiring.

Shop Through a Portal

Another simple option is to use shopping portals. Rather than going directly to retailers’ websites like Nike, you start with a shopping portal and then click onto the retailer’s site. By doing this, you can get bonus rewards on the items purchased through your card’s shopping portal. 

Major credit card issuers, as well as airline and hotel loyalty programs, all offer their own shopping portals. Citi, for instance, even multiplies the points you earn for shopping at certain participating websites. Even better, during the holidays, shopping portals often offer bonus points and miles.

One note to keep in mind though, is that shopping portal rewards can take between four to 12 weeks to post onto your account. So, this may not be a good last-minute save for your points.

Sign-up for a Dining Rewards Program

Dining rewards programs are essentially shopping portals—but for restaurants. After signing up for the dining rewards program and registering your credit card with it, you automatically receive points or miles when you use that card at restaurants that are part of the program. 

Almost all airline and hotel loyalty programs have dining rewards programs: 

However, you can only register one credit card per dining rewards program. So, the only limit to how many dining rewards programs you sign-up for is the number of credit cards you have.

It’s that easy! Taking any one of these three simple steps is enough to ensure your hard-earned points and miles stay safe from expiration. 

Want to keep track of all your credit card rewards? Download the Card Curator app in the Apple App Store or on Google Play and learn how to redeem your rewards for maximum value.

Written by John Garner
John Garner is the founder & CEO of Card Curator. John spent 5+ years as a volatility trader for Merrill Lynch before deciding to start Card Curator and follow his real passion: credit card rewards and travel. To date, he has visited almost 90 countries by using rewards earned from 100+ credit cards. He’s an expert in all things related to credit cards and free travel, and loves helping others crack the code in the points and miles game.

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