When do credit card rewards, airline miles, hotel points expire?

Programs are complicated, inconsistent, and inactivity can cost you

By Dana Dratch  |  Published: August 8, 2017

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Just like the milk in your fridge, your credit card rewards could have an expiration date.

Ignore that deadline and you’re throwing away money.

“There's a lot of confusion around loyalty currency expiration, and that's not a surprise, given how complicated and inconsistent the individual policies can be,” says Zach Honig, editor-in-chief at The Points Guy.

Every card plays by a different set of rules. And, as that fine print on your card agreement informs you, card issuers can change the terms at any time.

So, if you’ve ever lost card rewards, you’re definitely not alone.

“We all go through this,” says Daniel Tulbovich, co-founder of RewardExpert.com. “You forget – then you really can lose some of them.

“The best advice, especially for those who don’t want to keep track: It’s not about the card, it’s about the program,” he says. “You simply get a flexible program that gives you the most value and points – and doesn’t expire at all.”

Either that, or really dig in to understand all the rules and regs behind your favorite rewards programs, says Tulbovich. And read every email or bill flier you receive, to stay current.

Need to check the current rules on your favorite rewards cards? Here’s a rundown on everything from rewards cards to co-branded airline and hotel cards – along with a few tips for keeping rewards fresh:

Rewards credit cards
Even some rewards with no expiration date are only valid if your credit card account is in good standing. If you want to keep accumulating those rewards, follow the same rules you would to build good credit:

  • Make every payment on time.
  • Always pay at least the minimum.
  • Never exceed your credit limit.

In some rewards programs, even one missed or late payment could mean waving bye-bye to those goodies you wanted to get gratis.

“One surefire way to forfeit your credit card rewards is to close the only card you have linked to your credit card program,” says Honig. But that doesn’t apply to airline and hotel programs. “Once your points arrive in a partner account, they’re safe once you close your card – though individual program expiration policies will apply,” he says.

 

GENERAL-PURPOSE CARD REWARDS PROGRAMS’ EXPIRATION POLICIES*
Card/rewards program Rewards expiration date
ABOC Platinum Rewards MasterCard None
American Express Everyday/Gold/Platinum None
American Express Premier Rewards Gold None
Bank Americard Travel Rewards None
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard None
Capital One Venture Rewards/Premier Dining Rewards None
Chase Sapphire Reserve/Preferred None
Citi ThankYou Premier/Preferred/Prestige None
Discover it Miles None
MasterCard Titanium/Gold/Black Luxury Cards None
USAA Rewards American Express/Visa Signature None
Expedia+ Card/Voyager Card from Citi No expiration date as long as you using or redeeming points at least every 18 months. Members redeem points for coupons, which expire after one year.
Charity Charge World MasterCard Three years from the calendar quarter in which your rewards posted to your account.
Navy Federal Credit Union Go Rewards After four years
PenFed Platinum Rewards Signature Visa After five years
PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express After five years
US Bank FlexPerks Select+/Gold American Express Five years from the end of calendar quarter in which points are earned.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express After five years

 

Hotel rewards credit cards
Hotel rewards cards often combine their own affinity rewards programs with a rewards credit card. Cardholders who want to keep all their rewards from expiring need to ask both about the affinity program requirements and the rewards credit card rules, says Honig.

 

HOTEL REWARDS CARDS’ EXPIRATION POLICIES*
Card/Rewards Program Rewards expiration date
Best Western Rewards/Premium Rewards MasterCard None
Club Carlson Platinum Rewards/Rewards Visa Signature/Premier Rewards Visa Signature No expiration as long as you use/redeem points at least once every 24 months. E-certificates expire one year after the issue date.
Hilton HHonors and Hilton HHonors Surpass from American Express No expiration as long as you use your Hilton HHonors account at least once every 12 months to keep it active. Event vouchers expire one year from the redemption date.
Hyatt Visa Signature from Chase No expiration as long as you use the Hyatt points account every 24 months.
IHG Rewards Club Select No expiration as long as card is used at least once every 12 months.
Marriott Rewards Premier No expiration as long as card is used every 24 months.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa No expiration as long as you use the card or otherwise earn rewards at least every 24 months. E-certificates expire one year after issue date.
Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express No expiration as long as you keep your SPG membership active by using it at least once a year. Also, Starwood points issued/earned through Vistana will expire after six years.
Wyndham Rewards Visa Rewards expire four years after posting to a member account. In addition, to keep them active for that period, you must use the account at least every 18 months.

 

Airline/rail rewards credit cards
Like hotel-branded cards, many airline cards combine card rewards with their own affinity programs. That means that, with some, you may have to use the card within a specific time frame to keep the rewards – even when rewards technically don’t expire.

 

AIRLINE, RAIL REWARDS CARDS’ EXPIRATION POLICIES*
Card/Rewards Program Rewards expiration date
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature No expiration. Also, rewards can be reclaimed up to one year after closing account.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard No expiration as long as account is open and you use/redeem rewards every 36 months.
British Airways Visa Signature No expiration as long as you collect or use points every 36 months.
Citi/AAdvantage Executive/Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard No expiration, as long as you use/redeem rewards every 18 months.
Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express None
JetBlue/JetBlue Plus None
Platinum Delta SkyMiles from American Express None
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus/Premier No expiration as long as you use the card every 24 months.
United MileagePlus Explorer No expiration as long as card account is open.

*The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the banks’ websites for the most current version of card offers.

See related: Maximizing card rewards after you’ve earned the sign-up bonus


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Updated: 10-18-2017

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