Airline miles, hotel points, and flexible travel points make it easy to see the world at a discount — and sometimes even free. Unfortunately, the devil is often in the details since points and miles can be difficult to use. If you’re using airline miles in particular, you must find an award seat on the flight you want before you can redeem them. That can be pretty easy or extremely difficult, and you may not know which until you’re actually ready to book.
But worst of all are those pesky expiration dates. If you don’t use certain types of points and miles within a specific length of time, your loyalty program will simply take them away — poof!
For example, did you know that American AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of inactivity? The same is true for United Airlines miles, Hawaiian Airlines miles, and others. Meanwhile, Southwest Rapid Rewards points expire 24 months after your last account activity.
Eight Ways to Keep Your Airline Miles and Rewards Points Alive
If you bothered to earn airline miles or hotel points, you shouldn’t let them wither away. But what if you’re not ready to travel yet? Fortunately, most loyalty programs allow you to “reset the clock” with certain types of activity. Here are seven ways to ensure your points and miles live another day.
1. Join a dining club.
If you don’t have any plans to travel any time soon, but want to keep your stash of rewards alive, a dining club may be just what you need. Airline loyalty programs like American AAdvantage, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and Delta Air Lines all have their own dining programs that let you earn miles each time you dine at a participating restaurant.
These programs tend to have “signup bonuses” you can earn right away, usually in the 1,000- to 3,000-mile range if you dine at three participating restaurants within a few months. You may only earn a few miles per dollar you spend after your bonus posts, but that’s not the point. Earning even 10 miles will count as “activity” that resets the clock for your miles to expire, so dining clubs are an easy way to buy more time.
2. Use a shopping portal.
Another way to earn easy points or miles is something you should be doing anyway — starting your online purchases by way of a shopping portal.
Most airlines and many hotel brands have their own shopping portals, as does Chase Ultimate Rewards, and each time you click through the portal to make a purchase at a participating store, you can earn…