The Best Way to Reclaim Expired Travel Rewards (and When You Should)


Travel rewards are a nice bonus for joining an airline or hotel membership program or holding a co-branded credit card, but it’s a bummer when those points and miles you’ve spent so much to accumulate evaporate due to an expiration policy.

Good news: If you’ve accumulated rewards with Alaska Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, or United MileagePlus, your miles are forever safe from expiration. But a handful of other airlines and hotel rewards programs still enforce expiration dates after a set time period or due to inactivity on your account.

Here’s how to get those points and miles back—and whether you actually should.

How to reinstate expired travel rewards

In general, the only way to reclaim your expired rewards is to pay for them, whether as a flat fee or on a per-mile basis. The Points Guy summarizes the published reinstatement rules for major rewards programs:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Pay 1 cent per point plus $30 and tax or fly Air Canada within six months of expiration
  • American AAdvantage: Pay a reactivation fee based on miles reinstated, ranging from an estimated $60 for 5,000 miles to $700 for 100,000 miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles: Pay $10 per 1,000 miles plus tax
  • Emirates Skywards: Pay $20 per 1,000 miles within six months of expiration to reclaim up to 50,000 miles, which are valid only for 12 additional months
  • Frontier Miles: Pay $50–$500 to reinstate depending on the number of miles
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles: Pay $20 per 1,000 miles to extend miles for three years
  • Hilton Honors: Pay 0.25 cents per point (though customer service may allow you to reclaim rewards at no cost)

Of course, there are exceptions and nuances to these rules. For example, travelers with elite status and those who hold co-branded credit cards may be exempt from points and miles expiration. Each rewards program has a different timeline for expiration, extension, and reinstatement, and while most hotel programs don’t even allow you to reclaim your points, there are other airlines that don’t have published policies, so your best bet is to call and ask what they will do for you.

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When you should (and shouldn’t) pay to reinstate rewards

Since you’ll be paying (in most cases) to reclaim expired points and miles, it only makes sense to do so if your rewards are worth more once redeemed than the reinstatement fee.

This can be tricky to figure out, but the simplest method would be to determine how much you’re paying per point and compare that to valuations (such as those published by The Points Guy) showing how much points are actually worth. If the valuation is higher than the per-point reinstatement cost, it may be a good idea to buy back your rewards if you actually plan to use them before they potentially expire again.

Obviously, it would be best not to let your rewards expire in the first place, especially if you have a significant number of points or miles in the bank. Check out expiration dates for your rewards accounts and figure out how to keep them active, such as by using your co-branded credit card or applying any amount of points toward

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The Best Way to Reclaim Expired Travel Rewards (and When You Should)

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