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Keeping Points Alive

With the exception of Delta Airlines' Skymiles program, most airline loyalty programs have an points expiry policy.  Typically, airline frequent-fly programs will state that all points will expire (and in some cases the account will be deactivated) after 12-, 18-, or 24- months without any "activity." 

In the trade, we call this "earning and burning" - ie. collecting points or cashing in points.  Either counts as "activity," that will serve to keep your points alive.  For those of us more or less stranded at home during the pandemic, this is all the greater worry.  While most airlines did offer a life-line during the worst of the COVID-19 crisis, these days most programs have reactivated their expiry policies. 

It is wise, therefore, to learn the tricks for generating "activity" when you can't actually fly the airline or its partners.

Here are some general tactics that work for most plans:

1. Add your account to non-airline partner travel vendors: hotels and car rentals.

2. Advise your account when you shop at non-travel partners of the program. (Eg. Home Hardware in Canada is a partner of Aeroplan.)

3. Donate a small number of points to the program's list of charities.

4. Sign-up for a survey that gives points.  (Eg. Aeroplan offers points for enrolling with and completing surveys at www.askingcanadians.com - a non-profit, non-marketing research community.)

5. Google "how do I keep my xxxxxx points alive?" to find out the tricks for individual programs.

6. "Burn" your points when you need to book a car rental or hotel booking and are not flying on the partner airlines of your program.

7. Transfer a minimum number of points from your affiliated credit card.  (Eg. You can transfer points from RBC Avion Visa or Amex Rewards to your British Airways Avios account.)

One final way of keeping points alive is to purchase something at the program's online e-store.  I don't recommend this tactic because "pricing" in points for merchandise tends to be ridiculously inflated.  Always use the "two cents per point" formula to determine if you are getting enough value when you redeem airline points.  Reminder: the absolute best value you will ever get from your airline loyalty program is to redeem for business class tickets.


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