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. Here are the American Express credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points:

CardWelcome bonus & minimum spending requirements
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Terms Apply.
American Express®️ Green CardEarn 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressEarn up to $300 when you make eligible purchases with Dell Technologies, DocuSign and FedEx within the first three months of Card Membership (up to $100 per merchant, in the form of statement credits). This offer will run through November 4, 2020
The Platinum Card® from American Express
60,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
American Express® Gold Card35,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms Apply.
American Express® Business Gold CardEarn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first three months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express10,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Terms Apply.
The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and Amex EveryDay Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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:

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
Alitalia1:1Instant
ANA1:148 Hours
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)1:148 Hours
Avianca1:1Instant
British Airways1:1Instant
Delta1:1Instant
El Al1000:20Instant
Emirates1:1Instant
Etihad1:1Instant
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)1:1Instant
Iberia1:148 hours
Hawaiian Airlines1:1Instant
JetBlue250:200Instant
Qantas1:1Instant
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
Hilton1:2Instant
Marriott1:1Instant

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
Subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points tips like this delivered to your inbox. 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.

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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Raiken
11 months ago

Why not just downgrade? I don’t see the reason to cancel vs downgrade

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Raiken
11 months ago

If it’s an option, then you’re right: downgrading could be the better option!