The only thing better than earning rewards on your credit card is redeeming them. But sometimes, rewards programs have a “use it or lose it” policy that may impact your ability to store up and sit on the cash back, points or miles you’ve earned.
Knowing the expiration dates and rules for your rewards stash can save you from heartbreak and missed opportunities. Check out our guide below to see if you might need to give some attention to your loyalty account so your hard-earned points don’t vanish.
Rewards earned with general credit cards
For many of the biggest credit card rewards programs — including the following — points never expire as long as your account is in good standing:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Bank of America® points via the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card or the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
- Capital One rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Citi ThankYou Points
- Discover it rewards
Exclusions to note
However, terms for specific cards within an issuer’s family may vary. For example, within the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards program, points earned with these two cards never expire:
But with the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Credit Card and Wells Fargo Rewards® Card — both of which also earn Go Far Rewards — you must use your points within five years. Points expire at the end of the 60th month, starting the first month that points post to your account.
And while Citi ThankYou Points typically don’t have an expiration date, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns cash-back rewards that will expire if you haven’t earned any cash back from purchases or payments for 12 months.
That’s a notable difference, as most cash-back credit card rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the account open and in good standing.
Call the number on the back of your card if you’re unsure of its rewards expiration policy.
Miles earned with airline credit cards
It’s much more common for miles earned with airline credit cards to have expiration dates, in keeping with the terms of the co-branded airline’s frequent flyer program. Here are the expiration policies on miles earned with some popular cards:
If you have a co-branded airline credit card, your rewards miles are deposited directly into your frequent flyer account. With each program, you can typically keep your account active by earning or redeeming miles. Qualifying activities might include booking award travel, making purchases on your co-branded credit card, shopping through the airline’s online mall, or just booking a flight and including your frequent flyer number.
Points earned with hotel credit cards
As with airline cards, points earned via co-branded hotel credit cards are more likely to have expiration dates, depending on the terms of the hotel’s loyalty program. Here are the expiration policies on points earned via some popular cards:
CARD NAME REWARD PROGRAM EXPIRATION
Best Western Rewards® Mastercard®
Best Western Rewards Premium Mastercard
Best Western Rewards None.
Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card Choice Privileges You must have at least one qualifying activity every 18 months to maintain an active status and retain your accumulated points.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Hilton Honors You must have at least one qualifying activity every 12 months to maintain an active status and retain your accumulated points.
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card World of Hyatt You must have at least one qualifying activity every 24 months to maintain an active status and retain your accumulated points. Owning a Hyatt-branded credit card is considered a qualifying activity.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card InterContinental Hotels Group You must at least earn or redeem points every 12 months to maintain an active status and retain your accumulated points.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express®
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express®
Marriott Rewards You must earn or redeem points at least once every 24 months. Otherwise, points will be forfeited. Those with
Lifetime Elite Status aren't affected.
The Wyndham Rewards® Visa Signature® Card Wyndham Rewards Points expire four years after being posted to the member's account.
Image via iStock.
Information about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.