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Etihad Guest is a fairly solid airline loyalty programme overall (even after devaluations), but it does have one big problem: expiring Etihad Guest Miles can’t be saved by earning or redeeming Miles – the notorious “hard expiry”.
Etihad Guest Miles have a fixed expiry date, regardless of any subsequent earning of miles. Expiry depends on your status in the programme, but ranges from 2 to 3 years. While that may sound like a long time, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it creeps up on you.
So what can you do? If you google something like, “expiring Etihad Guest Miles”, you’ll see an option called PointsPay crop up quite regularly (including here on InsideFlyer!). PointsPay effectively allows you to turn your Etihad Miles into cash (virtual Visa card) at a rate roughly between 0.4p-0.55p per Mile, depending on the USD/GBP exchange rate a the time.
Clearly that isn’t a great rate (you should generally be looking to get at least 1p of ‘real’ value from your Etihad Miles), but the hard expiry rules mean that isn’t always possible – unless you happen to be very organised. Sadly, it turns out my organisation skills aren’t quite as hot as they could be, so I recently found myself staring down the barrel of 21,000 Miles expiring.
I’d known for a while that they were expiring soon, but had been quite relaxed about this as I thought that if the worst came to the worst and no better ideas occured to me, I could just cash them out via PointsPay, buy a nice bottle of champagne or two and create my own ‘Business Class experience’ whenever I wanted. The Miles were mostly ones I’d earned for free from promos that I couldn’t have credited elsewhere, so it wasn’t a big loss.
I did keep thinking though that maybe I’d end up booking a trip where they might come in handy, or that a family member might want them, etc, so I didn’t look closely at PointsPay until the day before expiry day. I signed up and everything seemed to be going to plan until I saw this:
A bit of frantic searching online confirmed that this verification process can take days (sometimes weeks apparently) and therefore wasn’t going to happen in time. Verification took 8 days for me, though it can vary, and my Miles would have been long dead by that point.
At the 11th hour, I discovered a (quite) good solution that I’ll be sharing a little later and salvaged at least some of the value of my Miles, but the lesson here is simple: if you think you might ever need to use PointsPay, go and set it up now – don’t wait until your Miles are about to expire, as it might be too late by then!