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 avios.com 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.

  • Matt says:

    The minimum avios purchase via that page is now 2,000

  • RussellH says:

    I would have thought that the simplest way to be absolutely certain that your BA avios never expire is to always have a free – blue – BA Amex.
    Just use it to buy an occasional newspaper, magazine, sandwich or coffee.

  • Edward Cunningham says:

    You didn’t mention Emirates, which must be one of the worst schemes and I now avoid flying. I had over 100K points and bought some more and they STILL cancelled the entire balance as I hadn’t flown for a year or two with them.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, Emirates is poor for this, especially as the lack of short haul redemptions means you will be saving for some time to earn enough for a worthwhile redemption.

    • Sam says:

      I don’t even waste time entering my skywards number anymore (on the odd occasion we do fly with them). Their daily flight from my local airport Newcastle is pretty poor by Emirates standards anyway. Very dated 777 – horrible Dubai arrival/departure times to so BA will always be our first option. And the 3-year expiry on the miles is just scandalous.

  • Andy Miller says:

    I have quite a few American Aadvantage miles. I stop them from expiring by doing surveys on e-rewards and ‘buying’ miles with the reward points. This is an easy way of preventing them from expiring.

    • flyforfun says:

      e-rewards is currently not accepting new people at the moment – and for a little while. Think I tried about 6 months ago when my AA miles were about to expire. Luckily I had a few hotel points to transfer over, but I need to find new options. My travel options don’t often include airlines or hotels I could credit to AA.

  • AJA says:

    Does anyone know what the rules are with TAP? I have 14000 that I got after I did the status match in 2020 or was it before? Either way never got to use the status and dropped from gold to basic member. Never worked out if I have enough miles for even a one way redemption LHR-LIS

  • cin3 says:

    Do Barclays Avios reset expiry?

  • VinZ says:

    Very helpful, but I’d like to understand a little more about the M&M points and PartnerPlus Benefits too. I’m completely lost! Any chance for a longer, dedicated article? Thank you!

  • Scotsman says:

    Does using avios in an account that’s part of a household (but isn’t earning any avios itself just contributing to avios used by others) reset the clock for BAEC for that account?

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

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