Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Do you know the expiry rules for your Avios and other airline miles?

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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.

When do Avios expire?

Avios (British Airways 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!

Do you know the expiry rules for your Avios, airline miles and hotel points?

You can reset the clock with Avios with a simple action such as:

  • buying 1,000 Avios via this page
  • doing a Membership Rewards transfer from your American Express points account
  • transferring some points from a hotel loyalty programme
  • making an online shopping transaction via the Avios e-store

Note that moving miles across from Iberia, Qatar Airways or does not reset expiry. I am not certain if Nectar transfers do or not – it isn’t clear since these are two-way transfers which can be immediately reversed. I would suspect not.

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.

When do Virgin Points expire?

This is a simple answer – they don’t.

Following a policy change in September 2020, at the same time as the currency was renamed from Virgin Flying Club miles to Virgin Points, Virgin Points no longer expire.

When do British Airways On Business points expire?

When do British Airways On Business points expire?

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.  However, the On Business website has been down for over a year following a major security incident.

The key is that On Business points have a ‘hard’ expiry date of two years from the December after you earn them.  This cannot be extended – you must spend them within two years. If I take a flight today, those points will expire on 31st December 2026 unless I spend them, and nothing can stop that expiry.

Points expiry has been suspended whilst the website has been offline. Expiry is meant to resume in June 2024 but I consider this very unlikely.

When do Lufthansa Miles & More miles expire?

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.

If you have a Miles & More credit card then your miles are protected from expiry. Unfortunately, there is not currently a Miles & More credit card available in the UK.

Your miles are also protected if you have Miles & More status.

When do Flying Blue miles expire>

When do Flying Blue miles expire?

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.

Oddly, there are separate rules for miles earned via partners – any partner activity in 24 months keeps miles earned from non-flying activity alive.

So …..

  • take a flight with Air France and ALL of your miles are protected for two years
  • earn miles from a car rental and all of your non-flying miles are protected for two years, but your miles earned from flying will still expire without a qualifying flight

It is possible to transfer Flying Blue miles to the Accor Live Limitless hotel programme if they are about to expire and you cannot spend them quickly.

When do American Airlines miles expire?

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 24 months of no activity.

If you have no immediate plans for your miles, make sure you transfer a few hotel points to American Airlines or credit a British Airways flight to AA every so often in order to keep them alive.

The rules are on the AA website here. Interestingly, miles do not expire if you are aged under 21.

American Airlines miles expiry rule

How can you stop your airline miles expiring?

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 free version allows you to track expiry dates on a small number of accounts.

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

If your miles are about to expire, I wrote this article on what to do with small ‘orphan’ amounts of miles in the major hotel and airline schemes.

PS.  If you want to know about hotel point expiry rules, I wrote a series of articles on the topic last year:

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (33)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Niall says:

    On Qatar Airways, I have 14,173 Avios are expiring on 30 March 2024. Anything I can do?

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Just move them to BA and then (if necessary) do any of the suggestions in the article to earn 1 Avios and so reset your BA clock to 3 years.

      What’s not clear (to me anyway – and it won’t be relevant to 99% here) is if your Avios balance is zero and you transfer some inwards from Qatar then does your 3-year clock start at that point or do they keep their Qatar expiry date?

    • Rob says:

      Move to BA. Should be fine.

  • memesweeper says:

    If your miles are about to expire, I wrote this article on what to do with small ‘orphan’ amounts of miles in the major airline schemes.

    -> the link goes to a hotel not airline page

    • Rob says:

      Airlines are Part 2 of that article. Wasn’t sure if I should link to Part 1 though!

      • memesweeper says:

        Part one has no link to part two at the end… just this text:

        In Part 2 of this article, which will appear in a day or so, I will look at how to use small amounts of points in some airline and shopping programmes.

  • Joff says:

    Another way (not mentioned) to keep your BA Avios is to earn miles by doing a survey on Avios For Thoughts

  • J says:

    Still waiting for Avios to be credited after months from the Avios e store.
    You fill in the missing avios form on the app, take a screen shot I am still waiting for a reply.
    Do not think I will be shopping through the app again.

  • thelargeguy says:

    According to frequent miler you can extend flying blue miles that have been got through credit card transfer simply my transferring another set of points

    • Danny says:

      Be careful. That article also warns that as soon as you credit any flights to your account any miles previously transferred in from credit cards will be contaminated by this and also become subject to the expire if you don’t take another flight within 24 months rule (unless you have elite status, etc). All very strange, since it acts as a disincentive to crediting flights to Flying Blue.

  • Dmm says:

    Anyone know what Aegeans expiry rules are? I have seen something about 3 years on google, but Aegeans website says they dont expire*, but i cannot find the footnote to say what the * refers to!

  • L.P. says:

    Thanks for this article Rob, very useful! I wasn’t aware of expiry dates (:

  • Simon says:

    United MileagePlus also has no expiry date – used to be 18 months expiry until the programme changed in 2019.

    • James Russell says:

      That’s useful to know Simon. I have about 70,000 miles in United Mileage Plus and have been making purchases through their shopping portal when in the US to stop them expiring.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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