While most airlines are offering extensions, if your credit card points or miles expired during COVID-19, read this complete guide on what you can do.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably taken advantage of some pretty insane deals for travel rewards points. 

In fact, in 2019, I picked up three new cards and earned the introductory bonus offer on all three. I was hoping that I could spend the points in 2020 to take my family on a trip.

But then…2020 happened

And like many travelers, I was forced to put my travel plans on hold due to COVID-19. So, I found myself wondering what in the heck will happen with my rewards points that I earned years ago? 

Will they expire before I have a chance to use them? 

COVID-19 made many people cautious about travel. Some still are hesitant to hop on a plane. However, if you have points that you’ve earned, you, like me, don’t want them to expire.

Here are some ways you can use your miles if you’re not yet ready for air travel.

Enjoy experiences near you

You can often find and attend local experiences with your travel points. For instance, VIP treatment at a basketball game and not have to pay for a thing. Imagine being able to enjoy a Lakers game in your private suite for free, just by cashing in your miles (granted, you’ll need quite a bit for that type of experience).

Apply Now On the Secure Website

One card I recommend for this benefit is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Chase has many perks to their cards in general, but with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can get access to a bunch of different events and experiences, plus some additional ones just for Sapphire members.

Also be aware of airline-sponsored events; sometimes your points can be used to gain access to those events through these sponsorships. 

The same applies when your travel miles are earned with a particular credit card company. The card company may allow you to use those points at any event they sponsor (try Googling [Card Company] + sponsored event near me).

In addition to sporting event access, some points can be used to access musical events close to you, including concerts. Some even go all out and allow you to watch a performer’s soundcheck and meet them before their performance.

Go shopping

Your travel points can sometimes be used for shopping. Maybe you want to treat yourself to something that you wouldn’t regularly purchase, such as an expensive pair of shoes or sunglasses. 

And many cards now allow you to link to stores like Amazon.com so you can spend your points directly when checking out. 

Airline programs (like United, for example) will have a shopping portal, too. This allows you to use your miles to buy goods and services through the portal instead of exchanging them for flights. Alternatively, you can use a credit card that will allow you to use points as a statement credit.

Apply Now On the Secure Website

For example, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card gets you unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, so no need to worry about keeping track of rotating categories. You also don’t have to worry about your points expiring, since the cash back you earn with the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card never expires.

And you can redeem your cash back for a check, gift cards to go shopping, or a statement credit. This makes shopping with your points incredibly easy.

Another option is to use your points to support a charity you already donate to regularly. Instead of using cash, you could just use your points. 

Apply Now On the Secure Website

One card to consider for their sizable rewards program is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. You can earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstore, and 1.5% on all other purchases. If you earn big in those categories, cash out your points and write a check to the charity of your choosing.

Some charities, Like Fisher House and Make-A-Wish, are even already set up to make it simple for you to give as many points as you would like.

Most airlines have a list of charities that you can support with your miles, and you can simply click on the name of the charity to donate your rewards to them. 

This is a good option when you don’t want to use your points for travel, but it has a drawback since the exchange rate is lower. Under ordinary circumstances, the charity will get more if you use your travel points for a ticket and give the equivalent amount of cash to them.

Are credit card companies issuing extensions?

Points Expiring During COVID? Here's What You Can Do - Are credit card companies issuing exstensions?

The short answer is yes. Most, if not all, airlines made sure frequent flyer miles that were earned in 2019 and 2020 didn’t expire and instead rolled into 2021. And hotel points programs are doing the same thing. So the points you may have earned through a branded travel rewards card should be safe for the time being.

But what about non-travel rewards cards? What if you have a cash back credit card or a card that just earns points?

The good news is that as long as you keep your account current and active, most credit card companies will not allow your earned points to expire. 

Here’s a list of the airlines and hotels that we know have made a statement on whether they’re extending miles or points. You’ll notice that some programs do not allow points to expire.

Program typeProgramExtension offered?Extension offered until
Airline milesAeroplan (Air Canada)YesJanuary 31, 2022
Airline milesAlaska Air Mileage PlanYesDecember 31, 2021
Airline milesAll Nippon AirwaysYes; extension request requiredSeptember 30, 2021
Airline milesAmerican Airlines AAdvantageYesJuly 31, 2021
Airline milesAvianca LifeMilesYes; elite tiers expandedJanuary 31, 2022
Airline milesBritish Airways Executive ClubYes for points expiring July 1, 2021, to December 31, 202112-month extension for all expiring points
Airline milesCathay Pacific Asia MilesPoints earned before January 1, 2020, don't expire for three yearsn/a
Airline milesDelta SkyMilesMiles do not expire; one-year extension to use priority boarding and drink benefitsn/a
Airline milesEmirates SkywardsYesDecember 31, 2021
Airline milesEtihad GuestNo; Platinum miles never expiren/a
Airline milesFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)YesDecember 31, 2021
Airline milesFrontier MilesYesTBD; Company has said "until further notice"
Airline milesHawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesMiles no longer expiren/a
Airline milesJapan Airlines Mileage BankYesJanuary 31, 2022, but only available to those who registered for an extension
Airline milesJetBlue TrueBluePoints do not expiren/a
Airline milesKorean Air SKYPASSYesDecember 31, 2021
Airline milesLATAM Pass MilesYesExtended by 90 days
Airline milesMalaysia EnrichYesDecember 31, 2021
Airline milesMiles & More (Lufthansa et al.)Non/a
Airline milesQantas PointsNoMust earn new points every 18 months to keep points account active
Airline milesQatar QmilesNo; points don't expire for three yearsn/a
Airline milesSingapore KrisFlyerYesNo expirations until April 2022
Airline milesSouthwest Airlines Rapid RewardsNon/a
Airline milesTurkish Miles & SmilesNo; extend expiration of points for three years for a $10 feen/a
Airline milesUnited Airlines MileagePlusMiles do not expiren/a
Airline milesVirgin Atlantic Flying ClubMiles do not expiren/a
Hotel pointsAccor Live LimitlessYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021
Hotel pointsBest Western RewardsPoints do not expiren/a
Hotel pointsChoice PrivilegesYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021
Hotel pointsHilton HonorsYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021
Hotel pointsIHG Rewards ClubYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021
Hotel pointsMarriott BonvoyYesExpiration paused through March 31, 2022
Hotel pointsMelia RewardsYesExpiration paused through September 30, 2021
Hotel pointsRadisson RewardsYesDecember 31, 2021
Hotel pointsWorld of HyattYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021
Hotel pointsWyndham RewardsYesExpiration paused through December 31, 2021

How to tell if your points are expiring

The most common type of points that do expire are airline miles and hotel points. Remember that when you open a branded credit card, your rewards are tied directly to an airline program.

Each airline program has different tier levels with varying expiration dates, so the best way to tell if your points are expiring is to go into your account and review your point totals. If you’re ever unsure, just call the airline or hotel program in question and ask them.

Apply Now On the Citi Secure Website

While most airlines have paused the expiration of points due to COVID-19, the downside to these programs is that miles may eventually expire. That’s why I recommend looking at something like the Citi Premier® Card, which gives you points you can use for almost anything, including travel.

Right now, the Citi Premier® Card is offering 80,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. 

Are there ways that my points can expire?

Yes, there are specific ways you can forfeit your points. Each program is going to be different, so you’ll need to read the terms and conditions of your particular program/account, but here are some general things to avoid if you want to keep your points:

  • Missing a payment. If you miss a payment (or several payments), it could send your account into default, and you could lose any points and promotional APRs you’ve earned.
  • You break specific program guidelines. This is pretty rare, but if you commit fraud or get caught somehow selling points (or anything of the like), you can lose your points.
  • Your program is canceled. Again, this is rare (and companies will need to notify you in advance), but you can lose points if your program expires. For example, a credit card company stops using a particular program.
  • Your card is closed. If you stop using your card and it’s closed due to inactivity, if you die, or your credit tanks and the company closes your credit card, you can lose your points.

If you’re managing your credit card responsibly, you shouldn’t run into any of these issues, but it’s helpful to be aware. Most of these reasons relate to not being able to manage your credit card or your debt.

How do I keep track of all my rewards?

Points Expiring During COVID? Here's What You Can Do - How do I keep track of all my rewards?

If you have several different credit cards with points or travel rewards programs attached to them, it can get pretty crazy trying to manage it all. 

Personally, I’ve set up my own little Google Sheet where I track all of my cards, the points I’ve earned (and if I still need to spend anything to earn the bonus offer), as well as if and when those points expire.

That can be time-consuming, though, so I would recommend looking into something like AwardWallet or TripIt Pro

These programs will allow you to link your credit card rewards program to a centralized dashboard, and they’ll help you track your points/miles and make sure you know if and when anything is set to expire. 

There is a small fee for each program, but it could be worth the cost if you have many cards with rewards programs.

Summary

Hopefully, you’re in a program where your miles aren’t going to expire. But if they are, the first thing I would do is call the program customer service to see if they’ll grant you an extension. When all else fails, I’ve given you some options to consider instead of traveling.

And to future-proof this problem, I always recommend getting a high-value travel rewards card where you’ll earn points that don’t expire and have flexible redemption options.

Read more:

Related Tools

About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 198
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.