When Do Miles Expire in the Various Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programmes?

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

Avios collectors have it easy. Your Avios will only expire if you cannot manage to earn or spend a single Avios within a 36-month period. For those frequent flyers who also collect miles from one or more airline programmes within the Star Alliance, you have it much harder. Some programmes have what is called “hard expiry” whilst other programmes are far more relaxed. Although there are many other factors that determine which Star Alliance programme might work best for you, mileage expiry is an important factor to consider…

What is Hard Expiry?

Hard expiry means that your miles will expire after a certain period of time, irrespective of whether your account is dormant or active.  “Use them or lose them” one might say…  A few of those programmes that operate a hard expiry allow you to pay an additional fee to extend the life of those miles, but it won’t usually be cheap.

And before you think that “hard expiry” is the most evil, despicable thing a frequent flyer programme can do, allow me to digress briefly…  When an airline’s loyalty programme issues you with a “mile”, the company takes on an additional liability.  Sort of like a debt, at some point in the future the airline must provide you with something of value. Over time, the total amount of “liability” can become quite massive. You might not care (and you’d probably be right), but airlines such as British Airways are on the hook for millions of “free” seats that would actually bankrupt the airline if they were required to provide those free seats all at once. An easy solution is to devalue the loyalty programme – i.e. charge more miles for the same award flight.

But there’s certainly an argument to be made that, instead of devaluing, you simply make some of those miles expire unused. You can continue rewarding your loyal, active members – those that manage to accumulate lots of miles and are engaged enough with the programme to actually spend them (a reasonable description of many InsideFlyer readers) – and take away those miles from people who are not your best customers…  For those of you who are in fact engaged with earning and burning miles, this might actually work out better for you.

A Look at the Various Hard Expiry Policies

I don’t follow every single Star Alliance loyalty programme, but of those I do, here are the programmes with hard expiry policies.

ANA Mileage Club

Miles are valid until the end of the 36th month after accrual. Example – miles earned on 15 November, 2019 will expire on 30 November, 2022.

Asiana Club

Miles are valid until 31 December of the 10th year following accrual.  Example – miles earned during 2019 will expire on 31 December, 2029.

Miles & More

Miles expire 36-38 months after being earned. Expiry only takes place on 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December each year.  Example – miles earned in April 2019 will expire on 30 June 2022.

Your miles will not expire if you hold a co-branded credit card.

SAS Eurobonus

Their website does not provide much information, but I believe that miles expire 5 years after being earned.

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer

Miles will expire at the end of the month 3 years after being earned.  Example – miles earned on 15 November, 2019 will expire on 30 November, 2022.

You can pay a fee to extend the life of your miles by an additional 6 months.

TAP Miles & Go

Miles are valid for 3 years from the date of collection.  Example – miles earned on 15 November, 2022 will expire on 15 November, 2022.

You can pay a fee to extend the life of your miles by an additional 3 years.

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

Miles are valid until 31 December of the 3rd year after accumulation. Example – miles earned during 2019 will expire on 31 December, 2022.

You can pay a fee to extend the life of your miles by an additional 3 years.

Activity-Based Expiry Policies

Avios collectors will be more familiar with expiry policies based on an account’s activity (or lack thereof). Here are a few Star Alliance airline policies…

Aegean Miles & Bonus

Miles do not expire per se, but your account is liable to be shut down if you do not credit miles from a Star Alliance flight once every 5 years.

Air Canada Aeroplan

Your miles expire if you have no activity for 12 consecutive months.

A useful trick is to use a VPN and set your country to Canada before signing up to “Asking Canadians” – click here. This is a Canadian version of E-Rewards – i.e. taking surveys in exchange for miles. Even if you don’t enjoy doing surveys, you can easily earn 5 miles per survey by answering the eligibility questions in a way that ensures that you are booted out… thereby extending the life of any Aeroplan miles by 12 more months.

Avianca Lifemiles

Miles expire after 12 months without any EARNING activity. Spending miles does nothing to extend the life of your miles.

United Mileage Plan

Your miles do not expire.

The Bottom Line

Unless you fly quite frequently with Star Alliance, you might regularly find yourself with some orphaned miles that are about to expire. If this happens to you frequently, you might want to pay closer attention to those Star Alliance frequent flyer programmes that don’t operate “hard expiry” policies…


  1. cinereus says

    How is liability justification for hard expiry? If airlines try to attract custom with financial inviable rewards, that’s nobody’s fault but their own. Hard expiry and cynical devaluation is grossly unfair to those who earned them in good faith.

    • Andrew M says

      I also don’t accept the argument that redemptions could bankrupt an airline. The airlines are in charge of how many seats they release for redemptions. Presumably they don’t offer more seats than they can afford to supply. The airlines have also received real hard cash in the bank from the credit card companies for the points they issue and it’s often many years before those points are used (if they ever are). That’s effectively an interest free loan from the card companies.

      We don’t need to feel sorry for the airlines! Frequent flyer schemes are often money making operations for them.

      • Craig Sowerby says

        That wasn’t really my point, although I accept that it was muddled.

        I was thinking more hypothetically in the sense that BA owe so many award seats to its Exec Club members, that if it were forced to provide those free seats all at once, it could go for months without receiving any cash revenue.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      My point is that, given a choice between hard expiry and frequent devaluations (i.e. more and more miles for the same awards), then choose the hard expiry. Because if you are engaged you can simply avoid the hard expiry and spend your miles at a what is surely a lower number of miles for the same award. For example, Turkish charge 90k miles for a return in Business Class to Asia or North America. United – no expiry – charges far more. My point is that this is partly due to the three-year hard expiry rule.

      A world where the bean counters at the airlines won’t dare touch the massive liability of miles issued… it simply doesn’t exist.

      • Joe Deeney says

        Yes, I’d not really thought about it before tbh, but I read the argument more as hard expiry being the lesser evil – given the assumption that the airline’s find tinkering with miles/the programmes irresistible. The fact we happen to strongly dislike both hard expiry policies and devaluations is, unfortunately, irrelevant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *