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. I don’t mean flying activity, I mean ANY mileage earning or spending activity at all. 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, Silver or Bronze 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:
18.1.18. Notwithstanding Clause 18.1.16, in the event a Household Account has a Gold, Silver or Bronze 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, Silver or Bronze Tier Member then the provisions of Clause 18.1.16 shall apply.
The full Virgin Flying Club terms and conditions are here. Mileage expiry is covered in clauses 2.6 and 2.7.
You can 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. You can get 1,500 bonus points for signing up via my referral code, which is in the article.
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 2022 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. If neither of those options work, you can pay to transfer expiring miles to another member – although it costs the same as I consider the miles to be worth, so this isn’t necessarily worth it.
Perhaps the most complex 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 24 months or you lose your miles earned from flying – whatever other activity you may have had in the meantime! Oddly, there are separate rules for miles earned via partners – any partner activity in 24 months keeps those alive.
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 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.
PS. If you want to know about hotel point expiry rules, I wrote a series of articles last year: