Earning points and miles to reach your travel goals is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you earn them through signing up for credit cards, flying on airplanes, staying in hotels or even if you write out and send in 188 postcards. All of these actions take time and effort. The last thing you want to happen is to have your account go inactive and your balances zeroed out.
Depending on the program, you’ll lose all your points if you don’t have any qualifying activity within a certain time frame that can vary from three years to just THREE MONTHS!! Using a website, such as AwardWallet, helps keep things organized so you know when points will expire. There will be times when you won’t have a flight on a particular airline or a stay at a specific hotel chain planned before your points will disappear. All is not lost though, because there are many other ways to keep your accounts active. Here are two of my favorite ways to have some account activity and keep from losing my points.
Car rental companies have loyalty programs where you can earn free rentals after earning enough points. However, I would never have enough points for a free rental day because:
- I don’t rent cars often enough
- When I rent a car, I’m not loyal to one company so I’d have points spread out everywhere
- These points also expire after a certain period of inactivity
Luckily, car rental companies have partnerships where you can earn airline miles or hotel points for rentals instead of car rental points. As an example, I’ll use our first rental from Sixt Rent a Car. While I signed up for the Sixt frequent renter program and upgraded my membership by having a World Mastercard, I never added a loyalty program to my account. As per Sixt’s website:
For each rental with Sixt, collect valuable*:
Miles with our airline partners
Points with our hotel partners
Bonus points with other participating programs
Certain rates are excluded from miles collection. Mileage reward promotions cannot be combined. Any mileage not automatically registered can be credited to the member’s account within 6 months of use of the service concerned.
Most car rental programs have similar rules that let you to retroactively submit your rental to earn points with a partner program. Boy, does Sixt have a lot of airline partners:
I looked at my accounts and tried to decide where to credit my rental. I ended up deciding on Virgin Atlantic. I have some points parked there that I earned from flying on Virgin America. Virgin Atlantic’s expiration policy is very lenient; you only need to have an activity once every three years.
If you do not have a Virgin Atlantic or Participating Company earning or spending activity in any three-year period, your account will be designated “inactive” and any mileage in your account will expire and your account will have a zero balance.
I didn’t have any activity planned before my account would go inactive and I’d lose my points. I contacted Sixt and told them to credit my recently completed rental to Virgin. A few days later, my Virgin Account showed an update. I’m safe for another three years.
Another way to keep your accounts from going inactive is to use a shopping portal. You can find which programs have these portals by going to a website that lists all the current offers, such as Cashback Monitor.
Say you’re going to shopping at Nike.com. You could earn four points per dollar spent by using American Airlines portal. Until recently, I needed to have account activity with United to keep my account active, since we’re not currently flying on United? I don’t have many points but letting them expire still always bothers me. That’s not a problem now that United miles no longer expire but for this example, let’s pretend they still do.
It might make sense to earn two fewer points per dollar if going through United’s portal would keep your United account active. That’s just what I did when buying items from Saks.com to use the $50 credit from my American Express Platinum card.
You have no idea how many times I’ve read a post online asking how to keep accounts active that have three days left. Don’t be that person. You worked hard to earn these miles and points. Don’t let your accounts go inactive and have your points go up in smoke.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary