Do American Express points expire? Here’s how to avoid losing your points

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American Express points are some of the most coveted in the travel credit cards hobby. You can redeem them for travel, cash them in for gift cards, or redeem them with Amex transfer partners like Delta and Air Canada for even more value. As with any credit card rewards program, it would stink if you put effort into earning points only to have them expire before you can use them. So you may be thinking, do American Express points expire?

The short answer is Amex Membership Rewards points do not expire, as long as you meet certain conditions. However, there are instances where you could lose your hard-earned Amex points. We’ll show you how to make sure that doesn’t happen.

American Express points don’t expire, but you could still lose them

Put simply, as long as you keep at least one card that earns Amex points open, your points will not expire.

Where you can run into trouble is if you want to cancel a card, perhaps because you don’t want to pay a big annual fee. If you don’t have another Amex Membership Rewards earning card and you cancel, you’ll lose all your points for good. However, you may be eligible for a 30-day grace period to use your Amex points after you cancel if you have other Amex cards open.

For example, suppose you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, but decide it’s not worth paying the $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) because you’re not able to make the most of the benefits. If you cancel and don’t have another Amex Membership Rewards card (like the American Express® Gold Card), you’ll lose all the points you’ve accumulated.

Unfortunately, you can’t work around this by transferring your Amex points to a spouse or anyone else with an Amex Membership Rewards points account. Here are some things you can do.

Open an Amex Membership Rewards card with no annual fee first

If avoiding an annual fee altogether is your goal, a couple of Amex Membership Rewards cards have no annual fee:

  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (see rates & fees) 
  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

You could first open one of these cards to preserve your Amex Membership Rewards points, then cancel the annual fee card you’re looking to get rid of. Double check to make sure the new card is linked to the same Membership Rewards account before you cancel.

Downgrade to a card with a lower or no annual fee

It’s possible in some cases to downgrade a card with a high annual fee to a Membership Rewards card with a lower (or no) annual fee. Downgrading an card is a little trickier because there aren’t many options due to Amex’s rules. The biggest thing to remember is that you can’t change a business card (like The Business Platinum Card® from American Express) to a personal card (like the American Express® Gold Card), or vice versa.

Transfer your points to an airline or hotel partner before you cancel

Another option is to transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to one of their airline and hotel partners if you don’t want to open a new card or downgrade your old one. Consider your travel plans before you do this, and have a look at our guide to transferring Amex points.

Once you transfer your points to an airline or hotel, you can not reverse the transfer. But your points will be safe in your airline or hotel account to use for free travel even if you cancel your Amex card.

Here are Amex’s current airline transfer partners:

AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Aer Lingus1:1Instant
AeroMexico1:1.624 Hours
Air Canada1:1Instant
ANA1:148 Hours
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1:148 Hours
British Airways1:1Instant
El Al1000:20Instant
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)1:1Instant
Iberia1:148 hours
Hawaiian Airlines1:1Instant
Singapore Airlines1:1Up to 24 hours
Virgin Atlantic1:1Instant

And here are the options for hotels (you’ll usually get a better deal transferring to airlines, though):

HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Choice Hotels1:1Instant

Keep in mind, once you move your points to an airline or hotel partner, you’ll have to abide by the rules of the program you transfer your points to. For example, if you transfer to Delta, you won’t ever have to worry about losing your points because Delta miles never expire, but that’s not the case with every partner.

Bottom line

Amex Membership Rewards points don’t expire, but you will lose them if you don’t keep at least one of the best American Express Membership Rewards earning card open. Because Amex Membership Rewards points are so valuable, you don’t want to let them go to waste if you need to cancel your card (say to avoid paying a steep annual fee). To preserve your points you can:

  • Open another Amex Membership Rewards points earning card with no annual fee before you cancel
  • Downgrade to an Amex Membership Rewards points card with a lower or no annual fee
  • Transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to an airline or hotel partner before you cancel

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For the rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.

For the rates and fees of The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

Featured photo by Chad Zuber/Shutterstock.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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