In the mainstream media, you’ll occasionally read of disgruntled people — usually a mix of the general public and ‘celebrities’ — complaining that their Qantas Points or Velocity Points have magically vanished.
Generally, it boils down to those individuals not reading about points expiry policies, and also not actually being active in that particular program for an extended period of time, which shows a general lack of interest and loyalty.
While the expiry policy for points is quite lenient in Australia, it can be much stricter abroad with programs such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Emirates Skywards, where a hard expiry of three years might apply regardless of activity.
Not sure how it all works? As people start gearing up for easier domestic travel in 2021, here is our quick guide to points expiry for common frequent flyer programs used by Aussie travellers.
Frequent flyer program expiry policies
The following table shows the usual expiration policies for each program’s frequent flyer points. It does not take into account any COVID-19 related extensions that may be in place — consult the program’s website for more information related to that.
|Rewards program||Do points expire?||After how long?||Tip|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||Yes - with inactivity||18 months of inactivity||A great way to extend is to download the Qantas Wellbeing app and earn points for exercising or even just sleeping
Transferring points between family members will not prevent your points from expiring (transferred points take on the expiry date of existing points in the account)
|Velocity Frequent Flyer||Yes - with inactivity||24 months of inactivity||Transferring points between family members or receiving points via Family Pooling will not prevent your points from expiring
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||Yes - time from earned||Minimum of 4 years validity||On anniversary of program join date, points from over 4 years prior will expire
Oldest points are used first
No expiry for Gold or Elite
|Alaska Mileage Plan||Yes - with inactivity||24 months of inactivity||Miles can be reinstated for up to one year for a US$75 fee|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Yes - with inactivity||18 months of inactivity||Reinstate for a fee depending on number of miles|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Yes - with inactivity||12 months of inactivity||Very strict policy
Spending miles does not extend expiry
Easiest way to extend is to buy 1000 LifeMiles or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points over
|British Airways Executive Club||Yes - with inactivity||36 months of inactivity|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Yes - with inactivity/time from earned||18 months of inactivity (for miles earned from 1 January 2020)/|
36 months from the month miles are earned (for miles earned up until 31 December 2019)
|Renewal for another three years or transfer to another member with payment of fee|
|Emirates Skywards||Yes - time from earned||36 months from accrual||Here are some ideas on what do with your expiring miles|
|Etihad Guest||Yes - with inactivity||18 months of inactivity|
|Marriott Bonvoy||Yes - with inactivity||24 months of inactivity||Extend expiry by transferring minimum 3,000 Marriott points to 1,000 frequent flyer points; buy points; donate minimum 2,500 points to charity|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Yes - time from earned||36 months from accrual||Oldest miles are used first
6- to 12-month extension depending on status available with payment of fee
Transfer to Velocity if at risk of expiry
|THAI Royal Orchid Plus||Yes - time from earned||36 months from accrual||Miles expire on a quarterly basis and may vary slightly depending on the timing of when the miles were credited into the account|
|United MileagePlus||No||Effective 28 August 2019, the previous 18-month soft expiry no longer applies|
With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, most frequent flyer programs are still suspending the expiration of points and miles for the foreseeable future. Check with your enrolled programs to see if this is the case.
Bank reward program expiry policies
The major credit card points programs out there don’t let your points expire, but you’ll need to remain a cardholder to keep access to them. If you’re planning on dropping a rewards card, be sure to spend all the associated rewards points first.
The exception to this rule is with ANZ Rewards. Those points must be used to claim a reward three years after the end of the year in which the points were earned, or else they will be cancelled.
What are the best ways to stop frequent flyer points from expiring?
Thankfully, it’s never that hard to keep some activity in your account to keep your balances active in programs that don’t have hard expiry limits. Here are some ideas:
- Earn some points from a program partner — credit a car rental, hotel stay or online purchase to your account
- Redeem some points if you have enough. Often small charitable donation for a few thousand points might reset the expiry counter
- Transfer some points over from a credit card program
- Earn some points from a linked credit card
- Buy points, e.g. from Qantas or Velocity
- Buy wine from Qantas Wine or Virgin Wines to get bonus points
- Use a service like AwardWallet to keep tabs on your balances
- Ask for an extension or a points challenge
Even though many of us will know the rules, there are still some cases where life just gets in the way and your reward points are put on the backburner.
For programs like Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer, it’s virtually impossible to have points expire as there are so many ways to keep your balance active. For example, the Qantas Wellbeing App is an excellent ‘set and forget’ option.
If your points do expire unexpectedly, it’s worth following up with the frequent flyer program to see if they will reinstate your balance for a fee or after completing some sort of shopping challenge.