Few things are more exciting than earning credit card points, airline miles, and hotel points to fuel your travels. But accidentally letting those hard-earned miles expire? Talk about frustrating.
Every airline sets its own policies for when miles expire – and more and more have eliminated that expiration policy entirely, making your miles good for life. Still, it's confusing to keep track of when your stash of miles might lapse.
So we'll break down the policies of all the major U.S. airlines, as well as some of the biggest and best international frequent flyer programs. And we'll give you some tips on how to make sure your miles don't accidentally expire.
Delta Air Lines
If you have a stash of Delta SkyMiles, you're in luck. That's because SkyMiles will never expire. Once you earn them, they are yours to keep – regardless of whether or not you have any recent activity in your account.
Read the Best Ways to Earn Delta SkyMiles.
But just because Delta SkyMiles don't expire doesn't mean you should hoard them in your account. As with any frequent flyer program, these miles get less valuable over time. The airline will simply charge more for the same mileage redemptions – sometimes jacking up the price overnight. Use your SkyMiles; that's what they're there for.
Make sure to read our guide on How Delta SkyMiles Work and How to Make Them Work for You.
American Airlines AAdvantage miles will expire 18 months after you earn them unless there is some sort of activity in your account. That's right – use them or lose them in 18 months.
The easiest way to find the expiration date on your American Airlines AAdvantage account is to log in and click on the wallet option in your account. From here, you will see an expiration date under the award miles square on the left-hand side pictured below.
If the clock is ticking on your miles, don't worry. You can easily reset the 18-month clock by either earning or redeeming AAdvantage miles. That means there are plenty of ways to keep your miles from expiring.
First things first, if you hold a co-branded American Airlines credit card, making any purchase on the card will earn AAdvantage miles and reset the expiration clock on your stash of miles.
On top of that, American Airlines has both shopping and dining portals that allow you to earn miles for online shopping or for eating out at restaurants. All you have to do is link any credit card to the portals and make a purchase. There is no requirement that it is an American Airlines credit card. You will earn miles and reset the clock on your mileage expiration.
Both programs are free to use and the only requirement is that you have an American Airlines Advantage account.
Sign up for an American Airlines eShopping account here.
Sign up for an American Airlines dining account here.
Back in August 2019, United Airlines removed its expiration window for unused MileagePlus miles, joining Delta and just a handful of other airlines. Until that point, United had a similar policy to American Airlines. Now, your United MileagePlus miles will never expire.
But just as with Delta SkyMiles, just because they don't expire shouldn't be an excuse to let them pile up. As with all milage programs, they will get less valuable over time as the airlines are constantly changing redemption rates for using your miles. And when they do, that's almost never good news.
Southwest Airlines is one of the most lenient airlines in the industry when it comes to fees and just about everything else airlines nickel and dime you for. In our opinion, it is what sets Southwest apart and makes them unique.
As of October 2019, Southwest Rapid Rewards points no longer expire. Until that point, Southwest Rapid Rewards points expired after 24 months of inactivity.
Alaska Mileage Plan miles will expire after 24 months of no account activity. Just like other programs whose miles expire, keeping your miles alive shouldn't be terribly difficult.
If you hold a co-branded Airlines Airlines credit card, making any purchase on the card will earn Mileage Plan miles and reset the expiration clock on your stash of miles.
Like most other airlines, Alaska Airlines has both a shopping and dining portal which makes it possible to earn additional miles for online shopping or for eating out at restaurants. All you have to do is link any credit card to the portals and make a purchase. Once again, there is no requirement that it is an Alaska Airlines credit card. Your purchase will earn miles and reset the clock on your mileage expiration.
Both programs are free to use and the only requirement is that you have an Airlines Airlines Mileage Plan account.
Sign up for an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping account here.
Sign up for an Alaska Airlines dining account here.
If you have a stash of jetBlue True Blue miles, they're safe. As of May 2019, True Blue miles do not expire. Prior to May 2019, TrueBlue points expired every 12 months if there was no activity on the account.
Other Notable Airline Mileage Expiration Dates
In addition to the major domestic airlines listed above, we've provided information on when your airline miles expire for other domestic airlines and some of the world's most notable airlines below.
While many of these airlines' miles will expire, you can easily reset the expiration clock by transferring in credit card points from the likes of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and Citi ThankYou Points.
|Airline Mileage Program||Mileage Expiration Date|
|Air Canada||12 months with no account activity.
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||After 24 months of no earning activity
|ANA Mileage Club||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Avianca Airlines LifeMiles||After 12 months of no earning activity
|British Airways Avios||After 36 months of no account activity.
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Emirates Skywards||36 months after the date they were earned during the last day of your birthday month.|
|Etihad Guest Miles||2 years after earning for Guest members, 2.5 years for Silver members and 3 years for Gold & Platinum members.|
|Frontier Airlines||6 months with no account activity|
|Hawaiian Airlines||18 months with no account activity|
|Iberia Airlines||After 36 months of no account activity.|
|Japan Airlines||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|LATAM Airlines Pass Miles||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Qantas Airlines||18 months with no account activity.
|Qatar Airways Privilege Club||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Sun Country||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|TAP Air Portugal||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles||36 months after the date they were earned.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||36 months with no account activity.
Don't let your hard-earned miles expire! Make sure you understand the expiration policy on your miles – and how you can easily reset that clock.
But even if your miles don't expire, letting them sit for years on end is never a good plan. Over time, they will only get less valuable. Use them before that happens!