A number of airlines have recently made a shift in their miles expiry policies, moving away from a fixed period validity concept to an activity-based one, which is generally seen as fairer and more easy to manage. Examples so far this year include Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and the Etihad Guest programme.
Now Qatar Airways has joined the fold, announcing to its Privilege Club members yesterday that provided you now earn or redeem at least one mile, your entire balance becomes valid for another (generous) 36 months, or 3 years.
We’re extending the life of Qmiles
“As we value the needs of our members, we begin a journey of change. A journey to bring you a Privilege Club designed with your needs in mind, one where your loyalty is aptly rewarded and each well-earned Qmile is more powerful and takes you further than ever before.
“We begin our journey together by extending the life of Qmiles, continuing to progress until we provide you the loyalty programme you have been waiting for. Qmiles will now last longer than ever before. Every time you spend or earn, your Qmiles balance will be valid for a further 36 months.”
The old policy
Prior to this change, your Qmiles were valid for a minimum of three years and expired at the end of the half-year period in which they were earned.
For example, Qmiles earned:
- between January and June 2020 would expire on 30th June 2023
- between July and December 2020 would expire on 31st December 2023
Platinum members’ Qmiles did not expire as long as the member held the Platinum tier at the time of each Qmiles expiry period.
The new policy
In this latest change, which takes immediate effect, your Qmiles will expire 36 months from the last date of accrual or redemption activity.
- Qmiles expiry date means thirty-six (36) months from the last date of accrual or redemption activity by a Member
- By default, if a member has no activity for thirty-six (36) consecutive months, then all of that members balance of QMiles will expire as of the Qmiles Expiry Date.
- For example, if a member performs an accrual / redemption activity on 2nd January 2018, then if there is no further activity on the account by 1st January 2021 then then the Qmiles will expire as of 2nd January 2021 00:01hrs
This actually sounds like a potentially shorter period. For example miles accrued on 15th July 2020 would previously expire on 31st December 2023; now they will expire on 15th July 2023.
The important aspect of the new policy however is that any earning or redemption activity now keeps your miles balance ‘alive’ for 36 months from that date, which is generally a much better policy.
You can still revalidate your expired miles
Qatar is maintaining the option to extend the validity of expired Qmiles even if you haven’t had any account activity for a 36-month period.
You can achieve this for a fee of US$0.015 per Qmile extended. This will extend the validity of those miles for 36 months from the date of revalidation, as it will be considered as a new activity on the account.
Are Qatar miles worth having?
Generally not. The scheme offers poor value compared to other oneworld programmes like Asia Miles and Avios, and suffered a stealth devaluation back in May 2018 where the cost of redemptions rocketed overnight with no warning.
In that case an award ticket from Singapore to Frankfurt via Doha in the airline’s Business Class cabin went from 75,500 Qmiles one day to 125,500 Qmiles the next, a 67% increase!
We personally credit our oneworld paid flights to Asia Miles or Avios for this reason, although the latest status match Qatar Airways offered to KrisFlyer members may be persuading some to accrue in the programme, especially as a reduced Qpoints tier renewal is on offer.
Last month we also highlighted the wide-open Qsuite award availability to and from Singapore on Qatar’s flights in 2021.
Qmiles actually aren’t a bad deal if you’re flying simply to or from Doha in this cabin, with the main benefit being that Qatar does not pass on its (enormous) fuel surcharge to Privilege Club members, saving you close to S$400 compared to using Asia Miles, for example.
Qatar Airways recently offered a status match for Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer members and those of several other FFPs including Etihad, Emirates and Virgin Australia.
Many of our readers will therefore be members of the programme and might be considering accruing Qmiles and Qpoints to maintain their new oneworld status for an additional year from 2021.
You can transfer credit card points from Singapore-issued cards into Qatar Privilege Club from:
- Standard Chartered
Click here to see the full credit card to airline miles transfer possibilities.
Overall, while Qatar Privilege Club generally does not offer good value, this is a significant improvement in the miles validity policy. Notably, it leaves Emirates as the only carrier in the Middle East ‘Big 3’ with a fixed (3-year) expiry policy, following Etihad’s recent move to an activity-based system.
That may force a rethink for the Dubai-based carrier in due course.
With airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qantas and British Airways also operating their frequent flyer programmes this way, let’s hope Singapore Airlines will eventually move to a similar system for KrisFlyer miles validity, which would be fantastic news for our readers.
Currently, those expire on a fixed 3-year basis, except for PPS Club members who enjoy no expiry.
(Cover Photo: Qatar Airways)