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Comparing the expiry policies of all your frequent flyer miles

Now's probably not a bad time to consider this...

FFP Cards (ribeiroantonio SS)

With most of the world in travel lockdown due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that may be of legitimate concern is the expiry of your frequent flyer miles. Last week Singapore Airlines happily extended the validity of miles imminently expiring by six months, leaving the door open for further extensions as “the situation remains fluid”.

It seems a good time to check the validity of miles balances in all your frequent flyer programmes, some of which are also offering extensions due to the situation, while others are not.

Essentially there are three types of expiry policy for your miles or points in a frequent flyer programme:

  • Miles expire in fixed intervals (typically 2-3 years) based on the date they were earned
  • Miles never expire, with some eligible programme activity
  • Miles never expire regardless

We’ve gone through all 15 frequent flyer programmes you can transfer miles into from credit cards in Singapore (click here for our table of who transfers where), including details of any COVID-19 extensions in place as of 16th April 2020.

  • Edit 16th April 2020: LifeMiles validity extension added.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Almost all our readers have a balance in Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer programme, by far the most popular in Singapore and transferable from any of the local credit card points schemes.

SQ A330 (Kentaro Iemoto)
Unsurprisingly, KrisFlyer is the most popular frequent flyer programme in Singapore. (Photo: Kentaro Iemoto)
KF Logo trans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, for 6/12 months
Exceptions: No expiry for PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club members
The detail:
A member’s KrisFlyer miles will expire after three years at the end of the equivalent month in which they were earned. For example, miles credited to a member’s KrisFlyer account in July 2019 will expire on 31st July 2022.

KrisFlyer miles that are due to expire for the first time may be extended for a fee of 1,200 miles or
USD 12 per 10,000 miles or part thereof. For KrisFlyer members, miles may be extended once for a period of six months only. KrisFlyer Elite Silver and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members may extend their miles for a period of one year.

COVID-19: KrisFlyer members with miles expiring in April 2020 through to August 2020 will have those miles extended by six months.

We recently updated our comprehensive guide to the 12 things you can do if your KrisFlyer miles are expiring.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles is probably the second most popular frequent flyer currency to hold for most people in Singapore.

That’s because it unlocks a wide variety of oneworld airline redemption options, including competitive Business Class rates to and from Europe with the likes of Qatar Airways, Qantas and Finnair, but also because you can transfer credit card points to Asia Miles from almost any provider in Singapore, except OCBC and Standard Chartered.

QSuite A350-1000 3 (Airbus)
Asia Miles are popular not just for Cathay Pacific awards but also oneworld redemptions like the Qsuite. (Photo: Airbus)
AM Logo trans
Expiry: 3 years (miles earned before 1 Jan 2020)
18 months (miles earned from 1 Jan 2020)
Extendable? Yes, for a fee (miles earned before 1 Jan 2020)
Yes, with activity (miles earned from 1 Jan 2020)
Exceptions: None
The detail:
If you earned your Asia Miles before 1 Jan 2020, they expire three years later, plus the months between your credit date and programme joining anniversary month.

If you earned your Asia Miles after 1 Jan 2020, they will not expire provided you earn or redeem at least once every 18 months.

Asia miles are redeemed on a first-in, first-out basis, so the oldest miles are always used up first when you spend them. That means any miles you still have that fall under the time-based expiry system (pre 1 Jan 2020) will be deducted first, before any miles you may have sitting in the activity-based system (post 1 Jan 2020).

If you have a mix of miles earned under the old and new systems, your Asia Miles account will show you how many of your total miles balance fall into each of the two expiry categories.

Before 1 Jan 2020 under the 3-year validity system, expiring Asia Miles could be extended for a further 3 years on payment of a fee of US$40 per 2,000 miles extended. Since 1 Jan 2020 this is no longer possible for miles earned under the previous system, instead you can ‘port’ any miles earned under the old system to the new activity-based system for a fee of US$40 per 2,000 miles renewed. Miles earned under the new activity-based system cannot be renewed or extended by paying a fee, activity is required.

For Asia Miles in the activity-based system, simple ways to keep your miles alive for another 18 months include:

  • Transferring your NTUC LinkPoints to Asia Miles
  • A Kaligo or Rocketmiles hotel booking
  • A purchase at the Asia Miles Shop
Link to Asia
Keep it simple. Do this once a year and any Asia Miles earned after 1st Jan 2020 will never expire.

EVA Air

You can transfer credit card points into EVA Air’s Infinity MileageLands programme from American Express, Citi and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

EVtrans2
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? No
Exceptions: None
The detail:
Mileage earned by traveling, or through partners, will be retained for 36 months from travel date or from the application date for transfer of mileage from partner’s system. For example, miles credited for a flight on 15th June 2019 will expire on 30th June 2022. The expired mileage will be automatically cancelled without notice.

Turkish Airlines

You can transfer credit card points into the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles programme from Citi credit cards in Singapore.

TKtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, for another 3 years
Exceptions: None
The detail:
Your miles are valid for at least 3 years starting from the date they were earned. They expire at the end of the third full calendar year at 23:59 local time in Turkey following their processing. For example if you credited to the programme in March 2020, those miles will expire on 31st December 2023. That means you’ll usually get more than 3 years to use them.

The statements sent out to you will show details of miles which are unused or about to expire. You can extend the validity of miles which are due to expire for another 3 years at a cost of 10 USD for every 1,000 miles.

Thai Airways

You can transfer credit card points into Thai Airways’ Royal Orchid Plus programme from American Express and Citi credit cards in Singapore.

Thai Tails (Thai Airways)
Thai is one of the airlines with a fixed miles expiry policy that’s extending validity of its miles due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo: Thai Airways)
TGtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? No
Exceptions: No expiry for Platinum members
The detail:
Miles are valid for 3 years. Miles accrued in each quarter of any given year, and not redeemed, expire at the end of the corresponding quarter 3 years there after.

For example if you earned your miles in February 2020, they will expire on 31st March 2023 (the end of the first quarter, 3 years later).

Expiring miles that are not redeemed by the last day in each quarter are void and deleted from accounts.

COVID-19: Royal Orchid Plus members who have miles expiring in the first three quarters of 2020 (i.e. at the end of March 2020, June 2020 or September 2020) have had their validity extended to 31st December 2020.

Lufthansa

You can transfer credit card points into the Lufthansa Miles & More programme from Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

MMtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes*
Exceptions: No expiry for Frequent Traveller, Senator or HON Circle Member status holders

No expiry if you’ve held a Lufthansa co-branded credit card for three or more months and make at least one purchase per month

The detail:
Award miles are valid for 36 months from the date of the activity and, unless they have been used, expire at the end of the quarter. For example if you credit to the programme on 15th February 2020, the miles will expire 36 months after the end of that quarter, which is on 31st March 2023.

There is no way to extend your miles directly with Lufthansa, unless you gain Elite status or are eligible for one of the airline’s co-brand credit cards.

You can however extend your expiring miles for another three years through third-party company Loylogic (it’s legit) on payment of a EUR0.01 fee per mile, provided you have at least 500 miles expiring.

United Airlines

You can transfer credit card points into the United Mileage Plus programme from Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

UAnewtrans
Expiry: Never
Extendable? N/a
Exceptions: N/a
The detail:
United MileagePlus miles never expire. Simple.
UA 787 In-Flight (United)
The simplest policy of all – United MileagePlus miles never expire. (Photo: United Airlines)

British Airways Avios

You can transfer credit card points into BA’s Executive Club (Avios) programme from American Express and Citi credit cards in Singapore.

AVIOStrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, with activity
Exceptions: Unofficially, BA will usually reinstate your expired Avios on request
The detail:
All your Avios points will remain valid as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios point every 36 months.

British Airways seems to have an informal policy allowing members to reinstate their expired Avios balance, on the proviso that you then earn or redeem at least one Avios point in the subsequent three months to keep them protected for the next three years. This info is a little dated and cannot be guaranteed, but phoning the UK contact centre (not your local office) seems to be the answer.

Since BA Avios points remain alive on an activity basis, here are some easy ways you can keep them all in check for another three years:

  • A Kaligo or Rocketmiles hotel booking
  • A purchase at the Avios eStore
  • Purchase 1,000 Avios directly (better when a promotion is running, but always possible)

Malaysia Enrich

You can transfer credit card points into the Malaysia Airlines Enrich programme from American Express, Citi and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

MHtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, for 12 months
Exceptions: No expiry for Platinum members
The detail:
Enrich miles are valid for three years from the month of earning and will expire at the end of the same calendar month three years later.

For example if you earned Enrich miles on 12th January 2020, they will expire on 31st January 2023.

You can extend the validity of your expiring Enrich miles from 3 months prior to their expiry up to 7 months after their expiry, for a fee of MYR 0.02 per mile plus an administrative fee of MYR 40.00 for the transaction. This will extend the validity of those miles for 12 months from their original expiry date. Expired Enrich Miles can only be extended once.

Qatar Airways

You can transfer credit card points into the Qatar Airways Privilege Club programme from Citi and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

QRtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, for 12 months
Exceptions: No expiry for Platinum members
The detail:
Your Qmiles are valid for a minimum of three years and expire at the end of the half-year period in which they were earned. For example, Qmiles earned between January and June 2020 will expire on 30 June, 2023 and Qmiles earned between July and December 2020 will expire on 31 December, 2023.

Platinum members Qmiles will not expire as long as they retain the Platinum tier at the time of each Qmiles expiry period.

You can extend the validity of all or part of the Qmiles due to expire in the next expiry period for a fee of US$0.015 per Qmile extended. This will extend the validity of those miles for 12 months from their original expiry date.

You can recover all or part of the Qmiles that expired in the previous expiry period for a fee of US$0.015 per Qmile recovered. This will extend the validity of those miles for 12 months from their original expiry date.

Qantas

You can transfer credit card points into the Qantas Frequent Flyer programme from Citi, DBS and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

EK A380 Shower Suite (MM)
Qantas Points can be a good way to redeem Emirates First and Business Class flights, including access to the famous A380 shower suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
QFF
Expiry: 18 months
Extendable? Yes, with activity
Exceptions: None
The detail:
Your Qantas Frequent Flyer account remains active, and your Qantas Points will not expire, if you earn or use your Qantas Points (excluding transfer of points to or from an eligible family member or the conversion of points from Qantas Business rewards) at least once every 18 months.

The 18-month time period starts from the date of your last eligible activity. If your last activity was an eligible flight, it is the date the flight was taken.

With Qantas operating an activity-based validity system, here are some ideas for resetting the expiry stopwatch on your balance without redeeming or transferring fresh points into the scheme from your credit card:

  • Make a purchase via Qantas Shopping
  • Make a hotel booking through Qantas Hotels
  • Buy a song from Apple iTunes using the Qantas Online Mall

China Airlines

You can transfer credit card points into the China Airlines Frequent Flyer programme from American Express credit cards in Singapore.

CItrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? No
Exceptions: None
The detail:
Miles earned in the China Airlines Dynasty Flyer programme are valid for 36 months including the month of earning, and will be automatically invalidated at 00:00 hours Taipei Local Time on the first day of the 37th month since accrual.

For example if you earned miles on 15th November 2018, they will expire at 00:00 on 1st December 2021.

Air France / KLM

You can transfer credit card points into the Air France / KLM Flying Blue Frequent Flyer programme from Citi and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

AFKLtrans
Expiry: 2 years
Extendable? Yes, with paid ticket only for miles earned by flying
Exceptions: No expiry for Silver, Gold and Platinum members
The detail:
All your miles are valid for life as long as you:

  • take an eligible flight on Air France, KLM, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM or other airline partners at least once every 2 years, or
  • if you’re a Silver, Gold or Platinum member, or
  • if you make a purchase with an eligible co-branded credit card at least once every 2 years.

These “overall extending activities” extend the validity of all miles 2 years from the date of the activity.

You can also extend the validity of miles earned with all other partners (car rental partners, hotel partners, and experience partners) for 2 years by earning miles with any of these other partners. These “partial extending activities” with other partners will extend the validity of miles earned with any of these other partners by 2 years from the date of the activity.

Note that there are two ‘categories’ of miles here. Any “partial extending activities” do not extend the validity of miles earned from “overall extending activities”.

COVID-19: Flying Blue is extending the validity of all miles for Explorer members (the basic status tier) due to expire between March 2020 and the end of the year, to 31st December 2020.

Etihad Airways

You can transfer credit card points into the Etihad Guest programme from Citi and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

EYtrans
Expiry: 2 years
Extendable? No
Exceptions: 2.5 years validity for Silver members, 3 years for Gold and Platinum members
The detail:
Etihad Guest Miles are valid for 2 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest members, 2.5 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest Silver members and 3 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest Gold and Etihad Guest Platinum members.

Unused Etihad Guest Miles will expire on the last date of the month in which they are due to expire, at 23:30 (GST time, which is 19:30 GMT).

In November 2019 Etihad announced that its miles would no longer expire provided one eligible transaction is made every 18 months, however the new policy does not appear to have taken effect yet.

Emirates

You can transfer credit card points into the Emirates Skywards programme from American Express and Standard Chartered credit cards in Singapore.

EKtrans
Expiry: 3 years
Extendable? Yes, for 12 months
Exceptions: No expiry for Skywards Platinum members
The detail:
Your Skywards Miles are valid for three years from the date of earning. Within the calendar year that Skywards Miles are due to expire, they will be removed from your account at the end of the month in which you were born.

For example, if you earned Miles in January 2020 and your birthday is 1st August, these Miles will expire on 31st August 2023 (three years from January 2020 plus the months between January 2023 and your birthday month that year).

If you have any Skywards Miles in your account that are due to expire in the next 3 months (90 days), you can pay to extend their validity for another 12 months beyond the date of the original expiry for a fee of US$20 per 1,000 Miles.

If you have any Skywards Miles that expired in the last six months (180 days), you can pay to reinstate them for 12 months beyond the purchase date for a fee of US$20 per 1,000 Miles.

You can extend or reclaim a maximum of 50,000 Skywards Miles in a calendar year.

COVID-19: Skywards members who have miles expiring in 2020 have had their validity extended to the end of the year – 31st December 2020.

Aegean

You can buy Aegean Miles+Bonus miles in one of the airline’s promotions, the best of which offer the miles at around 1.4 US cents each.

MBtrans
Expiry: 5 years
Extendable? Yes, with paid ticket only
Exceptions: None
The detail:
While Aegean’s award miles technically do not expire, you will have to credit a paid Aegean or Star Alliance flight to the programme at least once every 60 months (5 years) to avoid your account being cancelled and all miles forfeited.

Purchasing additional miles does not reset the account validity ‘clock’.

Alaska Airlines

You can buy Alaska miles at any time, but it’s best to wait for one of the airline’s regular promotions typically offering a 40% or 50% bonus.

AStrans
Expiry: 2 years
Extendable? Yes, with activity
Exceptions: ‘Deleted’ mileage can be reinstated for up to one year, for a US$75 fee
The detail:
Mileage Plan miles do not have an expiration date and may remain in an active account indefinitely. Activity in an account includes redeeming a Mileage Plan award or accruing mileage in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. However, if a Mileage Plan account is inactive for 2 years, Alaska Airlines may close the account, delete any mileage balance and reassign the Mileage Plan number.

Buying Alaska miles in one of the airline’s frequent sales keeps your account and its total mileage balance ‘alive’ for another two years.

In the worst case if you accidentally let your account lapse, you can reinstate it and its miles for a one-off US$75 fee, provided you do so within one year of the account deletion date.

Other options to consider for keeping your Alaska Miles valid if you don’t want to purchase any more are:

  • A Kaligo or Rocketmiles hotel booking
  • Transfer from Marriott Bonvoy points (with a promotion running is better)

Lifemiles

You can buy LifeMiles at any time, with regular bonus promotions usually offered throughout the year.

LMtrans
Expiry: 2 years (miles earned before 15 Apr 2018)
1 year (miles earned from 15 Apr 2018)
Extendable? Yes, with activity (miles earned before 15 Apr 2018)
Yes, by earning only (miles earned from 15 Apr 2018)
Exceptions: If you have a LifeMiles credit card or hold elite status, your miles are valid for up to 2 years, however only mileage earning activity resets the expiration of any miles earned after 15 Apr 2018.
The detail:
If you earned your LifeMiles before 15 Apr 2018, they expire after 24 months of account inactivity. Any kind of activity (earning or redeeming miles) extends the expiration date of your entire balance by a further 24 months.

Under a new policy LifeMiles earned from 15 Apr 2018 onwards only have 12 months of validity, and crucially only earning miles extends their expiration by a further 12 months from that date. That means redeeming no longer extends the validity of these miles.

COVID-19: LifeMiles has paused the expiration of miles that were scheduled to expire between April 1st 2020 and December 31st, 2020, to the end of 2020.

Earning activity at least once a year is now key to keeping your Lifemiles alive, so assuming you don’t want to purchase any more of them we’d recommend crediting a Kaligo or Rocketmiles hotel booking to the programme.

Virgin Australia

You can transfer KrisFlyer miles instantly to Virgin Australia Velocity points, if you’re eligible for a Velocity account, though do note there is an unattractive 1.55:1 transfer ratio.

At the time of writing, transfers between KrisFlyer and Velocity are temporarily unavailable.

VAtrans
Expiry: 2 years
Extendable? Yes, with activity
Exceptions: None
The detail:
Your Velocity Points will not expire provided you earn or redeem points at least once every 24 months. Any earning or redeeming activity is valid, including transferring points to or from the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme, or purchasing points.

Note that transferring points between family members or receiving points from a family pooling relationship is not considered eligible activity to prevent your points expiring.

Summary

Most airlines adopting fixed validity periods for your frequent flyer miles are now offering at least some form of extension through the end of 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, at least for the balances that are imminently expiring.

It’s fair to say on the other hand that airlines with an activity-based expiry system like British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific don’t feel the need to do this, since there are typically many ways to ‘interact’ with their schemes without actually flying or booking an award ticket, thereby keeping all your miles active.

We still strongly recommend holding on to your miles through this difficult period, since cashing out for non-flight redemptions with any frequent flyer programme almost always gives you terrible value in return.

Importantly it should be noted that these COVID-19 extensions, where offered, still don’t imply that you will be able to utilise the miles as effectively as you might expect before their revised expiry. Airlines are not charities and miles or points represent liability against the balance sheet. For many like SIA, they are shifting a chunk of that liability into the future.

In the event of an upswing, if an airline still has cash reserves, it is inherently more likely to improve award availability as the benefits are twofold. Increased passenger load factor, which the financial market idolises, plus reducing liability on the balance sheet for the year end, which is often held as a key indicator of financial health.

On the flip side, a cash poor airline is likely going to be in more desperate need of liquidity and revenue. In this case they are unlikely to give out much, if any reward availably. In this situation, liability on their balance sheet pales into comparison compared with the looming bills they may not be able to afford.

The latter of these two scenarios was the situation SIA found itself in at the end of the SARS crisis. For example at the time the airline was offering Economy to Business Class upgrades on (half-empty) long-haul Europe – Singapore flights at the check-in desk for 500 euros while not offering saver award space, demonstrating their priority for revenue over reduction in liability.

2013 J A350 (MM)
500 Euros or 92,000 KrisFlyer miles? If history repeats itself… (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is still much uncertainty over when the ‘upswing’ will occur and what it will look like, given the status of international travel restrictions. A turnaround in the next few months will find many in a favourable position, with potentially a glut of miles – not to mention extended status levels. Prolonged travel suspensions may be painful for all involved.

We still believe it’s worth holding on to your miles for flight redemptions wherever possible, but the ability to use them if they are then expiring imminently in early 2021 certainly won’t be the same across all programmes.

(Cover Photo: riberioantonio / Shutterstock)

1 comment

  1. I’m not so sure about Aegean’s requirement for crediting flight once every 5 years. Cos their terms said no expiry and I think that’s true (anecdotely) cos I had the last miles credited 5 years before last year (August 2014) and it didn’t expire (the miles are still in my account with a recent award redemption in Feb this year)

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