If you’re a frequent traveler, the odds are you have more than one rewards credit card. With so many cards available that are linked to airline, hotel and car rental loyalty programs, you may be earning rewards on six or more rewards cards. That’s a lot of points and miles to keep up with. If you find that you’ve lost points or are close to losing them, there are some things you can do to keep points from being lost again.
Most major airlines’ frequent flier mile programs expire if there is no activity on your card within 18-24 months. Two notable exceptions to this are Delta’s Skymiles and Virgin’s Elevate programs in which the miles never expire. Here are some ways to keep your rewards alive and well.
1) Book a flight or hotel stay
It may be stating the obvious, but either of these purchases will keep your account active.
2) Sign up for a hotel or airline linked card
Almost all major hotel chains and airlines have a linked credit card which allows members to earn miles or points with every purchase. You only need to use the card every so often (usually once every 18-24 months) for your card to remain active. These cards typically charge annual fees but many times this fee is waived for the first year. Used responsibly (paying balance in full each month) branded rewards cards are one of the fastest ways to earn miles. In addition, often there are very generous signup bonuses offered to new card members.
3) Book with a partner
As a rule, rewards credit cards partner with at least one hotel, airline, or car rental company. Check to see what your card offers. Remember that partner miles or points can sometimes take up to eight weeks to post to your account. If your rewards are close to expiring, call your credit card issuer and inform them of your partner-related purchase.
4) Buy miles
This will keep your account active but it’s almost never a good deal and should be considered as a last resort (your miles are expiring in a few days).
5) Transfer miles
This option will also keep you from losing rewards but it is usually a big rip-off financially. You will be charged a transfer fee (varies according to the airline) as well as an amount for the actual miles. For example, United charges $37.50 to transfer a minimum of 500 miles and $180 for 10,000. You’re probably better off simply buying a ticket with your miles rather than transferring them.
Most airlines have partner charities and allow card members to make donations using miles. Plus, unlike transferring miles, donating is free. This is an opportunity to do something good and keep your account active, all at the same time.