Do you know the expiry rules for your airline miles?

There is nothing more frustrating than finding that your miles have expired when you finally come to use them or add to them. This is most likely to happen with secondary programmes where you once dropped a few miles from a one-off promotion and then forgot about them.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic miles expire after 36 months of inactivity.  It is very unlikely that an active collector like a Head for Points reader would be caught out by such a long time frame!

It is worth noting that if you are in a British Airways household account which contains a Gold or Silver member, the Avios points of all members of that Household Account are protected even if they pass the three year point.  This is the specific wording from the BAEC terms and conditions:

18.1.17. Notwithstanding Clause 18.1.16 in the event a Household Account has as a Household Account member a Gold or Silver Tier Member who has earned or redeemed Avios points within the last 36 consecutive months then the Avios points balance of the other Household Account members shall not be subject to expiry in accordance with Clause 14.4. In the event a Household Account ceases to have as a Household Account member any such Gold or Silver Tier Member then the provisions of Clause 18.1.16 shall apply.

You can also reset the clock with Avios or Virgin with a simple action such as buying 1,000 miles, doing a Membership Rewards transfer or doing a transaction via the Avios e-store or the Virgin equivalent.


One to keep an eye on, though, is British Airways On Business. On Business is the scheme for small businesses (or even one-man bands) which earns points for your company on cash ticket purchases. This is on top of the Avios points earned by the traveller.

I wrote an introduction to British Airways On Business here and here. The key is that On Business points have a ‘hard’ expiry date of 2 years from the December after you earn them.  This cannot be extended – you must spend them within 2 years. If I take a flight today, those points will expire on 31st December 2018 unless I spend them, and nothing can stop that expiry.

Lufthansa Miles & More works the same way. Your miles expire 36 months from being earned, at the end of the next quarter, whatever other activity you have in the meantime. This is one downside of using Miles & More as your default Star Alliance programme since it is very possible – if you only credit a few Star Alliance flights a year – that your miles may start expiring before you have built up enough for a decent redemption.

There are two ways of stopping your Miles & More miles expiring.  One is to earn status in the programme, and the other is to get the UK Miles & More credit card and use it at least once a month. This will stop your miles from being wiped out.

Perhaps the worst of the Western European frequent flyer schemes is Flying Blue, the Air France / KLM programme. Unless you have status, you need to take a revenue flight with Air France, KLM or one of their SkyTeam or other airline partners every 20 months or you lose your miles – whatever other activity you may have had in the meantime!

If you have any American Airlines miles – and this is probably the most popular US scheme with HFP readers because of the ability to redeem on British Airways – take clear note of AA’s expiry policy.  Your AA miles disappear after just 18 months of no activity. If you have no immediate plans for your miles, make sure you transfer a few hotel points to AA or credit a BA flight to AA every so often in order to keep them alive.

One way of tracking expiry dates is by using AwardWallet to monitor your miles and points balances. I explained how AwardWallet works here.  If you pay for the premium version ($10 every six months) it will show you the expiry date of your miles alongside your total and send you warning emails as the date approaches.

The key takeaway is to keep on the ball. You don’t want your hard earned miles to disappear in a puff of smoke.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Rob

    I assume AA miles is the same as BA purchasing some also keeps your account active?

  2. What is the best Star Alliance frequent flyer programme for keeping miles “alive” – ie no expiry date?

    I had thought Unite Airlines as that seems to work like BA – so providing some activity miles do not expire for 3 years (and you can I believe) get a credit card which helps here and workslike the BA credit card. The Lufthansa one looks complex as it relies on spending every month on the card.

    Anyone got any definitive answer?

    • UA is 18 months.

      I use Aegean myself. No expiry but 20 euro booking fee for star redemptions. Also no need to argue with gate agents about using one ffp for earning and another for status. I don’t travel to the US so no benefit from UA saver awards

    • OZ – 10 year validity. Also decent *G qualification requirements and status validity. Unsure re redemption availability and ease though

  3. For Skyteam, I’d recommend crediting to Delta Skymiles – no expiry date!

  4. O/T – looking for advice, my wife and I will be flying out of San Diego T2 on Wednesday on a Hawaiian Airlines flight. We have Platinum AMEX and Priority Pass. Looking on the Priority Pass app there isn’t a lounge available, but I think we can use just our platinum cards to access the Delta or Airspace lounges. Is this correct or does this only apply to USA AMEX cards? Also if any of you have been in one which did you prefer? Thanks.

  5. I have a 1000 American Airlines miles about to expire and no plans to purchase another flight from them. Can I transfer them to BA avios or elsewhere?

  6. Hotel points expiry can be grim, for example Hilton Honors points. They expire after 12 months without account activity.

    Mrs Roger lost a bundle of HH points because of this a few years ago. Hilton says they send a warning message. They don’t, in our case at least.

    Unsurprisingly, Mrs Roger is not a huge Hilton Honors fan.

    • It could be worth keeping the credit card for occasional use to keep acounts active – almost all of our points are from credit cards and so this is always a consideration… especially for Hilton now that you only get the signup bonus once

      • Has anyone had experience of getting a reward night through Hilton Visa £750 spend prior to the T&Cs change, cancelling and then signing up again to get it again?

    • You can buy Hhonors points, I think 1000 for $6, that will keep them alive.

    • They’ve been known to reinstate them if you ask nicely. I track expiry with AwardWallet but don’t mind the likes of Hilton as you don’t need a stay to retain them, the Visa card is an easy way to prevent expiry. AF/KL definitely much harder with forcing you to fly. For UA I credit some eRewards survey points to them every so often to push out the expiry. Similarly for QF points the odd survey does the trick :)

  7. OT: Any idea how long it should take Avios and TP from S7 flights to post to BAEC? I am hoping my mammoth tour of Russia last week (including 4 flights in one day!) will push me into Silver status, and I would like to benefit from that during my trip early next week. Also, any suggestions for speeding things along should the need arise?

  8. O/T

    With all the help from you guys my family and I are looking at going to the Caribbean
    With us having not been before could someone out there recommend somewhere
    To go which is not to expensive a place/hotel?
    Any advice would be very helpful.

    • Do an island tour using Avios, and BA/5th Freedom flights .

    • Barbados is generally a good starting point if you haven’t been before, I think. No real crime issues, lots of flights, plenty of hotel options, weather very constant throughout the year (although there is a rainy season).

  9. Lady London says:

    I have a nasty feeling I’ve just lost 54,000 avios in clubcard points due to an expiry. I’m dreading calling them. I don’t do much with Mr. T. but did some in the past. They’re in Awardwallet, but no warning from Awardwallet – which is strange as Awardwallet has always sent an email when a balance changed in the past.

    Has anyone got any tips for whether this situation can be saved, if my fears about clubcard expiry (which would have been very recent) are correct?

    • But Clubcard points don’t expire ?

    • Hasn’t AW been unable to access Tesco of late?

      • It’s fine for me except when not in the UK when it won’t allow me to access.

        • Yes, as part of their security Tesco Clubcard account is only accessible from UK IP addresses -although it works fine with a VPN (just login via this before running an AwardWallet check) so it’s not exactly the most difficult security to circumvent but it will at least cut down on the number of random hacking attempts they receive.

      • doesn’t work for me Rob. I have 3 tesco accounts on my award wallet and when I update it updates them all to show the stats for the first one it logs into, seems like it has a problem logging out

        • +1 on Tesco malfunction within award wallet. I have 3 different accounts and every day it changes with points moving from one account to another “willy nilly”…..

    • Schoolboy error. Go online and find out the truth right now!

      If they have expired, your only hope is to phone up CS and beg – they do actually have an ongoing order from on top to be extra nice/ obliging to customers with problems.

      If you are wrong buy a few days, either convert some immediately or use the clock reset trick ie on a £50 voucher just buy £2.50 in Avios & you’ll get £47.50 back in change next Q with a new 2 year expiry date

  10. thanks BrianDt
    will have a look

  11. Thanks for the reminder about expiry. I have converted my wife’s Etihad points to gift vouchers.
    This should ensure that it soon becomes easy to use them to book Alitalia flights!

  12. Very OT. Does anyone have any experience of using Freccia Alata status on China Southern? Not flown with Skyteam since got the card but remember from comments here that promised benefits aren’t necessarily honoured

    • They do honour the benefits but you have to spell it out to them. I spent a while at check in in Japan convincing them that I was entitled to an extra baggage allowance. Also, upon arrival in Shanghai they forgot to inform me that there was a private minibus from the plane to the terminal for Business class and status passengers. Instead I was crammed onto the regular terminal bus like a sardine!

  13. Its Hilton and IHG that I have to monitor as they expire after 12 months. The new IHG survey thing is helping me keep 150k IHG points alive at the moment. I only have 5k hilton points so no big loss there if I mess up and they expire.

  14. Axel Heyst says:

    OT Curve Rewards finally released

    • And “At a later stage, you’ll be able to gain Curve Reward points simply for using Curve for everyday purchases.”

      What a crock…..

  15. OT – There are PE fares on BA ex Germany to NYC presently available for under £500 if you use Promo Code FLYNDERJB09

  16. O/T. I’ve got a stack of Tesco vouchers that I want to convert to Avios. I’m waiting for a ‘20% extra with BA’ offer like the one they did last year. I’ve seen the Virgin equivalent from Tesco this year but no BA offer. Do you think there’ll be another one, or is it unlikely?

  17. I remember losing 180,000 Flying Blue miles without warning because I went through a quiet period. I had been AF Red (then FB Gold) for at least the previous five years. Their call centre was hopeless saying it was 18 months without airline activity so I wrote a letter and a surprisingly nice lady called to say they would reinstate them for 3 months. So a quick trip to Sydney in business managed to burn the lot. I haven’t collected a single point with them since…