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Loyalty programs: expiry of points and miles

To the point Travel Hacking requires knowing how to earn lots of points and miles and how to avoid point expiration! There are tools to help you, but it's always a good idea to know the rules for expiring points and miles in rewards programs.

Travel Hacking: expiry of points and miles by rewards program

Let’s take a look at the different points and miles expiration rules depending on the type of program and tips to keep your account active!

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Banking programs

Several rules are common to the different banking programs:

  • Active account = no points expiration

Generally, bank programs do not let points expire as long as the credit card account remains active.

However, in the world of travel hacking, it is common to want to close a card – to avoid renewing your membership – but still want to keep the points for future use.

Of course, if you close a credit card account, the points attached to that account will be lost (they can usually be used within 90 days of closing the account, but the process is more complicated).

  • No transfer between spouses

It is generally not possible to transfer points between spouses.

In the past, a trick was to allow this via an additional card held on each of the accounts in the other spouse’s name, but with rare exceptions, this is no longer possible.

So here are some tips on how to keep your points when closing cards with the major programs.

American Express Membership Rewards

Key rules about the American Express Membership Rewards program:

american express logo Membership Rewards
Expiration of points As long as a Membership Rewards payment card is active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
4 cards can maintain an active Membership Rewards account:

Details Do not ask American Express to “transfer” points from one account to another, it does not work.

You can, however, request – by phone or chat – to “combine” your Membership Rewards points into one account. Once your accounts are combined, you will see your points appear in a “master” account. On the other card(s), it will say to refer to “the XXXX account to check your points balance”.

If you cancel a card (even the Main card on which your points are displayed), the points will remain in the same point account: another linked card will become the “main” card. This is the principle of “communicating vessels”.

So, it can still be handy to have the Carte Or avec primes American ExpressMD which has the lowest annual fee of the 4 cards at $150, at all times to pool your points on!

American Express Select Membership Rewards points

Key rules for the American Express Select Membership Rewards program:

american express logo

Membership Rewards Select Tier
Expiration of points As long as these cards are active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
2 cards can maintain an active Membership Rewards account:

Details Because “Membership Rewards points” cannot be transferred directly into airline program miles, they cannot be combined with American Express Membership Rewards cards as described above.

However, the reverse is possible but not recommended! If you combine Membership Rewards points in your Membership Rewards account, you turn your Membership Rewards points into Membership Rewards points… and lose the ability to transfer them into airline program miles!

If you need to cancel your American Express Cobaltᵐᶜ Card or American Express EdgeMD Corporate Card the only valid options open to you are the following:

  • Transfer your Select Membership Rewards points to Marriot Bonvoy points (1,000 Select Membership Rewards points = 1,200 Marriott Bonvoy points)
  • Apply your Select Membership Rewards points to your card purchases (1,000 Select Membership Rewards points = $10)
  • Apply your Select Membership Rewards points to your regular card purchases (1,000 Select Membership Rewards points = $7)

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The American Express Cobaltᵐᶜ Card is the travel hacker’s favorite card, hard to live without! Find out more about it in this very detailed article about it.

BMO Rewards

BMO Rewards program guidelines:

bmo logo

BMO Rewards
Expiration of points As long as a credit card linked to your BMO Rewards account is active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
3 cards can keep a BMO Rewards account active:

Details Generally, the card that every travel hacker starts with on the BMO side is the excellent BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard.

After the first year, if you don’t want to keep it – despite the fact that it offers some of the best insurance for travel paid with points & miles – you can sign up for a card with no annual fee: the BMO Rewards MasterCard.

You will need to do this online – and not through your account or by calling BMO – in order to be eligible for the welcome bonus. Once you receive your new card, you can call BMO and ask to link it to your existing BMO Rewards points account.

And only after these steps have been completed will you be able to cancel your other BMO Rewards card if you wish.

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The BMO Rewards Mastercard – which has the great advantage of no annual fee and a nice welcome bonus – can help you keep your BMO Rewards points by keeping your points account active!

NBC À la carte Rewards

The main rules regarding the National Bank of Canada’s À la carte Rewards program :

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A la carte rewards
Expiration of points As long as a credit card linked to your NBC Rewards account is active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
3 cards can maintain an active NBC Rewards account:

Details Generally, the card that many readers choose is The National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®The National Bank of Canada travel insurance plan is very advantageous, offering up to $250 each calendar year for various travel-related expenses, unlimited access for the cardholder and one guest to the National Bank Lounge at the Montreal-Trudeau airport, and excellent insurance. Read all the details about this map here.

After the first year, if you don’t want to keep it, you can sign up for one of the other less expensive NBC Rewards cards.

However, you will not be eligible for any of the 3 cards’ welcome promotions.

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In our opinion, switching from one card to the other is not worth it on the NBC side: it’s better to keep your National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® account active, taking advantage of its various benefits every year.

CIBC Aventura

The main rules regarding the National Bank of Canada’s À la carte Rewards program :

cibc logo svg

AVENTURA

Expiration of points As long as a credit card linked to your CIBC Aventura Account is active, your Points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
4 cards can keep an Aventura account active:

Details Generally, the card promoted by CIBC is the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card. There is no difference in the fee with the Gold version.

If you wish to keep your Aventura Points account active, you will need to switch to the CIBC Aventura Visa Card which has no annual fee. Theoretically, you are not eligible for a new CIBC Welcome Bonus if you have already had one on another card.

RBC Rewards

RBC Rewards/Travel program guidelines:

rbc Royal Bank

RBC Rewards

Expiration of points As long as a credit card linked to your RBC Rewards Avion account is active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
2 cards for individuals can maintain an active RBC Avion Rewards account:

Details On the RBC side, it is possible to switch from one card to another via “product transfer”, which is a way to keep an RBC Rewards account active.
Otherwise, it is of course recommended to use your points before the closing of your card, either by booking a flight or by transferring to partner airline programs such as British Airways Executive Club.

Scotia Rewards®

The main rules of the Scotiabank Rewards program :

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Scotia Rewards

Expiration of points As long as a credit OR debit card linked to your Scotia Rewards account is active, your rewards do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
6 credit cards can maintain an active Rewards account:

Details Generally, the two cards chosen by Travel Hackers are either:

In order to obtain a welcome bonus, we recommend that you keep your current card active and reapply online.

Once the new card is received, Scotiabank will be asked to link it to the existing Rewards account. This will allow you to cancel your other card without risk.

To know everything about this process, read this article!

scotia passport visainfinite fre

The best credit card currently available from ScotiaBonusPoints is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card: it offers an excellent welcome bonus, 6 airport lounges and most importantly …. no foreign currency conversion fees!

This makes it one of the best travel credit cards with no conversion fees in Canada!

TD Rewards

The main rules of the TD Rewards program :

Td TD Rewards
Expiration of points As long as a credit card linked to your TD Rewards Account is active, your points do not expire.
Cards to hold
the active account
Multiple Cards can maintain an active TD Rewards Account:

  • TD First Class Travel®Visa Infinite* Card
  • TD Platinum Travel Visa Card
  • TD Visa Rewards Card
  • TD Business Travel Visa Card
Details Generally, the card chosen to discover TD Rewards is the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card.

After the first year, if you don’t want to keep it, you can sign up for one of the other less expensive TD Rewards Cards to keep your points.

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Air and travel programs

Several rules are common to the different air programs:

  • Active account = no points expiration

Generally, airline bank programs do not let points expire as long as the account is active, i.e. some “activity” has occurred on the account in the last 12-24 months depending on the program.

An activity can be mileage accumulation or mileage redemption for example.

  • Air miles = dead end

Generally, once you have air miles, there is not much else you can do but use them in the program.

Airline miles are generally not transferable to other programs. That’s why we always recommend transferring American Express Membership Rewards points or RBC Rewards points ONLY when you’re ready to book an award ticket.

Aeroplan

Aeroplan program guidelines:

aeroplan program
Expiration of points Aeroplan Miles expire if there is no activity on your account for 12 consecutive months.
Cards to hold
the active account
Many credit cards allow you to keep your Aeroplan account active… by charging purchases to it.

Here are the two most popular:

Details There are many tips for keeping your Aeroplan account active:

It is possible to request a retroactive credit of Aeroplan Miles to your account up to 6 months after a missed transaction. A way to recover (for free) any expired miles!

 

AIR MILES

The main rules of the AIR MILES program :

air miles
Expiration of points As of late 2016, AIR MILES miles no longer expire.
Cards to accumulate
AIR MILES Reward miles
There are 14 credit cards in Canada to easily collect many AIR MILES miles, the most famous are

Details Miles earned in the AIR MILES program no longer expire.

bmo air miles world elite mastercard fr 1

BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is probably the best known of all AIR MILES credit cards: according to the promotions in forceIt allows you to accumulate up to 3,000 AIR MILES miles, with no annual fee for the first year and 2 airport lounge accesses.

British Airways Executive Club

The main rules regarding the National Bank of Canada’s À la carte Rewards program :

british airways club
Expiration of points Avios miles expire if there is no activity in your Executive Club account for 36 consecutive months.
Cards to hold
the active account
In Canada, there is a credit card affiliated with the British Airways Executive Club and issued by RBC.

Alternatively, you can transfer Avios miles from your American Express Membership Rewards account or RBC Avion Rewards account.

Details British Airways Executive Club offers a family account. It is therefore simple to keep your account active in different ways:

It is possible to request a retroactive credit of Avios miles in your account after a forgotten transaction. A way to recover (for free) any expired miles!

So it can still be convenient to have Membership Rewards points permanently, like with the American ExpressMD Gold Rewards Card: by transferring only 1,000 Membership Rewards points into Avios miles, it extends the validity of your miles by 36 months!

Flying Blue

The main rules of the Flying Blue program:

flying blue logo
Expiration of points Flying Blue miles expire if there is no activity on your account for 24 consecutive months.
Cards to hold
the active account
In Canada, no credit cards are linked to the Flying Blue program.
Details It is important to know that Flying Blue divides the mileage extension transactions in 2.

The following are the types of “ Global Extension Transactions” that extend the validity of ALL your miles by 2 years from the date of said transaction:

  • you take an eligible flight at least once every 2 years with Air France, KLM, Joon, HOP!, Aircalin, Kenya Airways, TAROM or other SkyTeam partners
  • you are an Elite or Elite Plus member
  • you make a purchase with an eligible partner bank card once every 2 years (valid for all French people)

The following are the types of “ partial extension transactions” that extend the validity of miles earned with one of these partners by 2 years from the date of said transaction. These transactions do NOT extend the validity of miles earned with “Global Extension Transactions”:

  • you take an eligible flight at least once every 2 years with an airline not listed above (example: WestJet)
  • you provide your Flying Blue membership number when you stay at partner hotels, car rentals, etc.

bonvoy aec2

If you want to earn Flying Blue miles in Canada, the easiest way will be to have the Marriott BonvoyTM American ExpressMD Card.

It offers many advantages such as a great welcome bonus, many free nights… or miles of Airline programs! For every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Flying Blue, you earn 25,000 Flying Blue miles! Learn more about this card in this article.

Note, however, that transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Flying Blue does not extend the life of your Flying Blue miles.

Alaska Mileage Plan

The major rules for the Alaska Mileage Plan program:

pg logo alaska
Expiration of points Alaska Mileage Plan miles expire if there is no activity in your account for 24 consecutive months.
Cards to hold
the active account
Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard® credit card (Quebec)
Details There are many tips for keeping an Alaska Mileage Plan account active:

  • crediting miles to your Alaska Mileage Plan account for airfare purchased and flown on Alaska Airlines or one of the many partner airlines (American, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific…)
  • the indication of your membership number when you stay in partner hotels, car rentals…
  • Use of a credit card affiliated with the Alaska Mileage Plan
  • Using the Aeroplan eBoutique to store with online partners such as Amazon, The Bay, Apple…
  • Crediting miles to your Aeroplan account for airfare purchased and flown on any of the many Star Alliance carriers
  • the use of miles for
    • purchase of an award ticket for a flight on Alaska Airlines or one of its partners
    • the purchase of a magazine subscription
    • donations

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Hotel programs

Finally, let’s review the main expiry rules for the major hotel rewards programs available to Canadians.

Best Western Rewards

Best Western Rewards program guidelines:

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Expiration of points Best Western Rewards points do not expire.
Card to accumulate
Points
In Canada, there is only one card that allows you to earn Best Western Rewards points: the MastercardMD Best Western RewardsMD (Quebec).
Details The Best Western program is simple because your points do not expire. Find out more about the program on this page.

mbna best western rewards card

The MastercardMD Best Western RewardsMD credit card has no annual fee and easily earns 20,000 points, enough to get you a night’s stay at Best Western Group hotels.

Hilton Honors

The big rules about the Hilton Honors Program:

hilton honors e1488115875520
Expiration of points Hilton Honors points expire if there is no activity on your account for 12 consecutive months.
Card to hold
the active account
In Canada, there are no credit cards linked to the Hilton Honors Program – unlike in the United States.

However, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors points. The rate is not great, but transferring a little will keep your account active!

Here are the 6 cards that transfer Membership Rewards points and Hilton Honors points:

Details There are many tricks to keeping a Hilton Honors account active:

Marriott Bonvoy

The big rules about the Marriott Bonvoy program:

marriott bonvoy logo
Expiration of points Marriott Bonvoy points expire if there is no activity on your account for 24 consecutive months.
Cards to hold
the active account
In Canada, 2 credit cards allow you to keep your Marriott Bonvoy account active by making purchases on it:

Details There are various methods of maintaining an active Marriott Bonvoy account:

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So the easiest way to do this will be to have a credit card linked to the Marriott Bonvoy program, such as the Marriott BonvoyTM American ExpressMD Card.

This card offers many benefits such as a great welcome bonus, so you can get many free nights! Learn more about this card in this article.

A tool to help you monitor dates

To help you keep track of your rewards programs’ point expiration dates, we recommend signing up for the excellent AwardWallet tool.

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Finally, you can find in this article a detailed presentation of its features.

Bottom line

Keep this page in your favorites, it will surely be useful to have a global view of the expiration of your different rewards programs… and will make your life as a travel hacker easier!

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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