I have quite a few punch cards from my favorite coffee vendors and I eagerly anticipate the day where the essential latte becomes a free latte. Unfortunately I end up washing most of these cards with my jeans or simply forgetting I have them. No free coffee. Disappointment takes on an exponential effect when thousands of dollars worth of points and miles are on the line and in the case that you “wash your miles” away, you’ll need a liquid other than coffee to calm you down. 

a sign with an arrow pointing to an airport

It’s important to understand that your expiration date is really not a function of the first time you stayed in a hotel or took a flight, but rather the last time you earned points in the program of discussion. Yes, every time you earn new points, whether from travel, shopping, credit card points transfers or whatever, your points are further from expiring, the expiration resets.

Example: My Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are about to expire. To keep them going I could book flight or hotel stay with one of their partners using my Virgin Atlantic frequent flier number. The points earned from the flight (even on another airline) or hotel stay will reset the expiry on my miles. No ability to travel? Going on Virgin’s online shopping portal and buying a bottle of wine while logged into my account will do the trick. Don’t want to spend money? Transfer some Amex points into Virgin Atlantic, it happens instantly and your expiration will reset to a further 36 months away.


an airplane parked in a hangar

American AAdvantage: 18 months. You can reactive miles up to 12 years old for big bucks though… 

a large airplane on the runway

British Airways Executive Club: 36 Months

a large white airplane on a wet runway

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 36 Months

a plane flying over water

Delta Skymiles: Never. (Though they may be next to worthless 300 days from now).

a white airplane parked on a tarmac

United Mileage Plus: 18 months. Fee to reinstate afterwards.

a large white airplane taking off

Qatar Q Miles: 36 Months on either June 30 or 31st December depending on date of last earning.

a large airplane on the tarmac

Emirates Skywards: 36 Months on your birthday month.

a plane flying over trees and mountains

Alaska Mileage Plan: 24 Months. Otherwise $75 before end of third year to reinstate. 

a large airplane flying in the sky

Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20 Months.

a white airplane on the runway

Lufthansa Miles & More: 36 Months. Miles never expire for elites or credit card holders.

a plane flying in the sky

Air Canada Aeroplan: 12 Months 


a pool with flowers and a city in the background

IHG Rewards: 12 Months. Yep, used to be 24.

a large building on a hill

Starwood Preferred: 12 Months.

a deck with a thatched roof and a thatched roof on a dock with a thatched roof and a thatched roof on the side

Hilton: 12 Months.

a pool with palm trees and a building

Marriott: Previously no expiration. 24 Months starting February 2016.

a large building with many lights on it

Accor Le Club: 12 Months.

a house on stilts in water

Hyatt Gold Passport: 12 Months.

a pool with a building and a building with a roof

Club Carlson: 24 Months.

a man sitting on a couch with a napkin in his hand

I see this is an oxymoron being very easy and very hard at the same time. My best suggestion for keeping track of points and miles across all programs is AwardWallet. With the free service you are able to see your balances and keep tabs on expiration dates. It’s hard because there are tons of programs yet it’s simple because keeping an account “active” and miles from “expiring” is as easy as drinking wine or donating a pittance of miles to a worthy cause. However you keep your account going you’ll be happy because there is free coffee on virtually every airline and virtually every hotel. Who needs punch cards?

As Always, Get in Touch: GodSaveThePoints@gmail.com

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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