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

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

Jason StaufferDo American Express points expire? Here’s how to avoid losing your pointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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 transfer them to 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 up to 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases made on the card within the first 3 months of account opening.
Terms Apply.
American Express®️ Green CardReceive up to $100 in statement credits toward any eligible purchase from Away made within the first three months of Card Membership. Offer ends January 15, 2020. Plus, earn 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 ExpressNo welcome bonus
The Platinum Card® from American Express
60,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 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 3 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 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express15,000 Amex Membership Rewards® points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. 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 3 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 3 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’s what 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:

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 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
Delta 1:1Instant
El Al1000:20Instant
Emirates 1:1Instant
Etihad1:1Instant
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)1:1Instant
Iberia1:1~1 to 3 days
Hawaiian Airlines1:1Instant
JetBlue250:200Instant
Qantas1:1Instant
Singapore Airlines1:1~1 to 2 days
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 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
  • Downgrad 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

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.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

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

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