When will my credit card rewards expire?

The fun part of having a rewards card is watching your rewards balance grow with every purchase. But if you squirrel away points and miles for too long, they could all disappear, depending on your program’s expiration policy. rewards trap

The good news is that many programs keep your points alive as long as your account is open – and others give you easy ways to keep your account active so that your points are practically non-perishable.

If you plan on hoard rewards, here’s what you need to know. To compare the expiration policies of some of the most popular rewards card programs, use the chart below.

Common point and mile expiration policies

There’s a variety of reward program types (cash back, flexible rewards, travel, airline and hotel) – so expect expiration policies to vary as well. Some common expiration policies include:

  • Points never expire – as long as your card is open, that is. This is the model commonly used by cash-back cards and cards with proprietary rewards programs (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, the Membership Rewards Program from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner). However, some of these programs allow you to transfer points into the programs of airline and hotel partners. If you do so, those transferred points will be subject to that program’s expiration policies.

    Read your card’s terms and conditions, however, and you’ll find that you’ll need to keep your account “in good standing” to preserve your points. Depending on the issuer, late payments and delinquencies can freeze or even wipe out your rewards.

  • Points don’t expire as long as your rewards account is active. “Active” generally means you’ve earned points or redeemed points. Yet there are some exclusions – see Marriott’s rules, for example:Marriott Rewards expiration policy

    This kind of “active account” policy is common among airline and hotel programs. So, if you have a co-branded airline or hotel card, expect its expiration rules to conform to the airline’s.

    Luckily, if you have the card, you’ll be earning points with every card purchase, so a single charge will re-set the expiration clock.

  • Rewards automatically expire after a certain amount of time. Luckily, this kind of program is rare. Of the cards we surveyed, only the U.S. Bank FlexPerks cards have it.

Expiration of other perks

Miles and points aren’t the only thing you can get out of rewards cards. Some give you additional perks from statement credits for travel incidentals, companion airline tickets or discounts and free hotel nights. These often have their own expiration policies (in some cases, you have just six months to redeem these perks). It’s disappointing to miss out on a free night or companion ticket, so read your card’s fine print carefully and make sure you know your benefits’ use-by date.

Expiration policies of popular credit card rewards programs
CardRewards programPoint expirationOther perks' expiration
Flexible rewards programs
American Express EveryDay/EveryDay PreferredMembership RewardsPoints do not expire, as long as you have an active Membership Rewards card.

Points transferred to airline and hotel programs are subject to those programs' rules.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold$100 airline fee credit (effective June 1): Expires each year on Dec. 31.
American Express Platinum$200 airline fee credit: Expires each year on Dec. 31.
Chase FreedomUltimate RewardsPoints do not expire as long as account remains open
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire ReserveUltimate RewardsPoints do not expire as long as account remains open.

Points transferred to airlines and hotels are subject to those programs' rules.
Citi ThankYou Preferred and Premier cardThankYou programPoints do not expire, as long as you have an active card tied to your ThankYou account.
Citi PrestigeThankYou programPoints do not expire, as long as you have an active card tied to your ThankYou account.

Points transferred to airline and hotel programs are subject to those programs' rules.
$250 air travel credit: Unused credit expires each year if not posted by December billing cycle.
Cash Back
American Express Blue Cash/Blue Cash PreferredN/ARewards do not expire as long as card remains open.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards
Capital One Quicksilver
Discover it
U.S. Bank Cash+
Citi Double CashRewards expire if you haven't earned any cash back from payments or purchases in 12 months.
General travel
BankAmericard Travel RewardsN/ARewards do not expire as long as card remains open.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Capital One /VentureOne
Discover it Miles
U.S. Bank FlexPerks/FlexPerks Select cardsFive years from the end of the quarter in which you first earned them.
Airline
Alaska Airlines Visa SignatureMileage PlanMiles expire after no rewards account activity in 24 months.Companion ticket discount: Expires 12 months from date of issue.
American Airlines Citi AAdvantage cardsAAdvantageMiles expire after no rewards account activity in 18 months.Companion ticket benefit (Platinum Select card): Expires 1 year from date of issue.
Delta SkyMiles cardsSkyMilesMiles do not expireCompanion ticket benefit (Platinum and Reserve card): Expires on date listed on the companion certificate (generally a little over a year after it's issued).
Frontier Airlines World MasterCardEarlyReturnsMiles expire after 6 months of no rewards activity.
Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCardHawaiianMilesMiles expire after no rewards account activity in 18 months.One-time companion ticket discount: Expires 13 months from account open date.
JetBlue card from American ExpressTrueBluePoints don't expire.
Hotel
Hilton HHonors credit cardsHHonorsPoints expire after 12 months of no rewards activity.Free weekend night for new cardmembers who meet spending requirement (Reserve card): Expires 12 months after date issued.
Hyatt Credit CardGold PassportPoints expire after 12 months of no rewards activity.Free nights for new cardmembers who meet spending requirement: Expires 1 year after date issued.

Free anniversary night: Expires 12 months after date issued.
IHG Rewards Club Select credit cardRewards ClubPoints never expire.

Starting May 2016, points will expire after 12 months of no reward activity.
Annual free night: Expires 12 months after date of issue
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit CardMarriott RewardsStarting Feb. 2016, points will expire after 2 years of no rewards activity.Free anniversary night: Expires 6 months after date issued.
Starwood Preferred Guest cardPreferred GuestPoints expire after 1 year of no rewards activity.
 
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