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COVID-19 has turned our travel world upside down. Borders are closing, airlines are scaling back flights, and travel plans have been cancelled en masse.

If you have a large travel points bank, you may be wondering how you’ll keep your rewards intact while having to bunker down. None of us want to let our travel points expire just because we’re under a travel lockdown.

So here’s your guide to the expiration policies of 10 major travel rewards programs in Canada. Many of them do offer easy ways to keep your accounts active, so we’ll let you know how best to keep your point banks intact.

Rewards programs and expiry work arounds

Fortunately, with most rewards programs, you won’t have to worry about your points expiring. But for many, you’re required to keep your account active by making a transaction every now and then.

Rewards Program Expiration Policy Work Around Is there an easy way to keep your account active?
AIR MILES Make a transaction every 24 months Yes
Aeroplan Make a transaction every 12 months Yes
WestJet Rewards None, except for a few circumstances N/A
VIPorter Make a transaction every 24 months No, can only earn or redeem points by flying
Marriott Bonvoy Make a transaction every 24 months Yes
Best Western Rewards None N/A
Hilton Honors Make a transaction every 12 months Yes
IHG Rewards Make a transaction every 12 months No, can only earn or redeem points by staying at hotels
Choice Privileges Make a transaction every 18 months No, can only earn or redeem points by staying at hotels
Bank reward programs Don’t expire as long as your credit card is in good standing Yes

Keeping you AIR MILES bank intact

Let’s start with one of the biggest programs in Canada – AIR MILES.

AIR MILES got a bad rap a few years ago when they tried to introduce an expiration date on miles earned.

Thankfully, they walked it back. Now, all you have to do is make one transaction on your account every 24 months to keep your account active. If you fail to do this, your account is considered inactive and you’ll lose all your AIR MILES.

But with all the in-store partners AIR MILES has, it probably hasn’t been that long since you’ve scanned your card and earned some miles, which will restart the 24 month countdown.

3 easy ways to keep your account active

With that said, there are 3 easy ways to earn some AIR MILES.

First, collect a few AIR MILES at any AIR MILES partner. And while shopping is not a top priority right now, you can earn them on groceries at Sobeys or Safeway, and gas at Shell or Irving.

Second, you can shop online through airmilesshops.ca. You’ll be able to earn miles from a wide variety of online stores.

The other easy option is to get an AIR MILES credit card and earn them on all your purchases.

Keep in mind: AIR MILES doesn’t currently allow conversion from Dream Miles to Cash ‒ an inflexible feature that is a disservice to their clients.

Related: Why Now Is The Time to Switch From AIR MILES Dream To Cash

How to stop Aeroplan miles from expiring

The biggest airline program also requires you to keep your account active.

Simply make one transaction on your account in any 12 month period to keep your miles. If you don’t, you’ll lose them and you’ll have to pay 1 cent per mile plus a $30 fee to get them back.

One helpful thing Aeroplan does in this regard?

They’ll tell you the exact date when your account will become inactive.

Simply head to the Aeroplan site, login and head to Your Account –> Overview.

You’ll see a box telling you what date your account will become inactive if you don’t make a transaction on your account.

Here’s what it looks like:

Aeroplan expiration date

2 easy ways to keep your Aeroplan bank intact

Similar to AIR MILES, there’s 2 easy ways to earn a few Aeroplan miles.

You can check out the Aeroplan estore, where you can shop online with plenty of retailers and earn miles at the same time.

The other method is to earn miles on your purchases with a credit card. Here are the best Aeroplan credit cards available.

Also note Aeroplan is putting their expiration policy on hold until May 14, buying more time if your expiration date is coming up soon.

WestJet Rewards – keeping your dollars

Canada’s 2nd largest airline has its own rewards program – WestJet Rewards.

For the most part, your dollars won’t expire. However, there are a few circumstances where Dollars can expire. They include Dollars issued through:

  • promotions,
  • compensation, or
  • limited-time promotional offers.

You can keep track of what Dollars expire by visiting this page and signing in to your WestJet account.

Keeping your VIPorter points

The other Canadian airline that offers a rewards program is VIPorter of Porter airlines.

VIPorter points will expire if you don’t make a transaction on your account at least once every 2 years.

However, the only way to earn or redeem your points is by flying on Porter – so there’s no easy way to keep your account open.

Holding on to Marriott Bonvoy points

One of the world’s largest hotel chains, Marriott Bonvoy requires you to keep an active account to keep your points.

You’ll need to make a transaction on your account once every 24 months. If you fail to do so, you’ll lose all your points.

Also note that transferring or receiving points as a gift doesn’t count as a qualifying transaction to keep your account open.

3 easy ways to keep your account active

Besides earning and redeeming points on hotel stays, there are a couple other ways to keep your point balance active.

First is by earning points with a credit card. You can go with a Marriott Bonvoy credit card or one of the Amex Membership Rewards cards which allow you to transfer points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 5:6 ratio.

Your second option is to redeem your points for a charity donation, which could be extra helpful in times like these.

And finally, you could purchase points for your account, starting at 1,000 points for $12.50.

Related: Best Credit Card Offers, Sign-Up Bonuses, And Deals

Best Western Rewards expiration

Best Western Rewards keep it simple.

Points have no expiration date, and there’s no need to worry about keeping an account active. Once you earn a point, you have it for life.

Hilton Honors – how to keep your points

Hilton Honors is similar to Marriott Bonvoy – your points don’t expire as long as you stay active in the program.

However, you have to make a transaction every 12 months to keep your points balance intact.

Keeping your Hilton Honors points balance

A credit card is the easiest way to keep earning points. Amex Membership Rewards points will allow you to transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio.

IHG Rewards points expiration

For the person who stays at Holiday Inn with IHG Rewards, you can keep your points from expiring if you make a transaction at least once per year.

However, hotel stays are the only way to keep your account active, whether you earn or redeem points.

Keeping Choice Privileges points

Choice Privilege points are similar to IHG Rewards, except you have 18 months to make a transaction before your points expire.

Again, hotel stays are the only way to make a transaction on your account.

Related: Free Amazon Gift Card Offers

Major bank reward programs

Finally, we’ll give an overview of the big bank programs. Most of the big banks and credit card issuers operate their own rewards programs.

These include:

With these programs, there’s only one way to earn points – with the credit cards they issue. As long as you keep your card account active and in good standing, you should be able to keep your points.

But what if you cancel your card? Then you’ll have between 60 to 90 days to use your points, depending on the program.

Credit cards to help keep your rewards

One way to make sure your points don’t expire is to get a credit card. This way, you’re always earning points, preventing your account from ever being inactive.

Here’s some credit cards for these programs you can get so you can make sure you’ll never lose your points (bank reward programs are not included as you need a credit card to have an account in the first place):

  • Aeroplan,
  • AIR MILES,
  • Hilton Honors, and
  • Marriott.

Some of these credit cards will actually cover several of these programs, thanks to the magic of transfers.

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Earn Rates Annual Fee, Income Requirements Apply Now
American Express Gold Rewards 25,000 points (terms) * 2 points per $1 on gas, groceries, drugstores and travel
* 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
$150 Apply Now
American Express Cobalt Up to 30,000 points (terms) * 5 points per $1 on groceries & restaurants
* 2 points per $1 on gas, transit and travel
* 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
$120 Apply Now
TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Up to 30,000 miles (terms) * 1.5 miles per $1 spent on eligible gas, groceries, drugstores and aircanada.com
* 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
$120 (rebated for first year), 60K personal or 100K household income requirements Apply Now
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card 50,000 points (terms) * 5 points per $1 at Marriott properties
* 2 points per $1 spent all purchases
$120 Apply Now
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard 2,000 miles (terms) * 1 miles per $10 spent on all purchases $120, first year free, 80K personal or 150K household income requirements Apply Now

One of the best cards to keep your points and miles from expiring is the , which also happens to be our top rated Aeroplan card.

Why? You’ll be able to transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to these programs, and their transfer ratios:

Amex Membership Rewards travel partners
Yes, there are that many transfer options available (more than we mentioned in this post), so for these programs you won’t ever have to worry about your status as long as you have this card.

As for earning your points, you can get a welcome bonus of 25,000 points, and earn up to 2 points per $1 spent on your purchases.

Our #1 rated card, the is also good in this regard. You’ll be able to transfer points to the hotel partners shown above (you can’t transfer points collected with this card to airline partners).

To make up for it, this card will earn you more points. Earn a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 points, and up to 5 points for every $1 spent with the card.

For Aeroplan collectors who also want an Aeroplan branded card, the is your best choice.

You can’t use this card to keep other programs active, but your Aeroplan miles will always be secure as you won’t have to worry about making any transfers like the 2 cards above it.

It also has a high welcome bonus of up to 30,000 miles, and the ability to earn up to 1.5 miles per $1 spent, as well as some great perks when flying on an Aeroplan rewards flight operated by Air Canada.

An easy way to keep your Marriott Bonvoy account active is with the .

You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on all your purchases (5 points at Marriott properties), and can earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 points.

But there’s more. Marriott has partnerships with over 40 airlines, where you can transfer your Marriott points to them at varying ratios (3:1 is the most common), including Aeroplan.

You can see the full list here.

While it’s generally easy to collect AIR MILES, if you want to boost what you earn with an AIR MILES card, the is our top choice.

You can earn 1 mile for every $10 spent with the card, and a welcome bonus of 2,000 miles.

Or if you prefer a no fee card, then the offers an earn rate of up to 1 mile per $10 spent, and a 950 mile welcome bonus all for no annual fee.

In summary

Most of these programs require you to keep an active account, but there are often ways you can make transactions without travelling. So here are 2 questions for you…

Are you worried about losing any points?

Are you planning to keep them using our expiry work around ideas?

Let us know in the comments below.