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Million Mile Secrets reader, Kris, commented:
My hotel points expire in April 2017. If I use them to book an award stay for February 2018, can I cancel the stay in January 2018 and get the points back?
Points in most hotel loyalty programs expire after 12 to 24 months of no earning or redemption activity. Although there are a few exceptions.
But reader Kris suggested a way to keep hotel points from expiring that works with some hotel chains. But I’d caution folks to read the cancellation policy before using this trick. Because you don’t want to risk losing your points!
I’ll explain which chains work to use the book and cancel trick. And remind y’all some easy ways you can generate activity in your hotel loyalty account to keep points alive!
Keep Hotel Points From Expiring
Certain hotel chains consider booking a future award stay as redemption activity. This means it can reset your points expiration clock. So even if you cancel the stay and get the points back, you’ll still have a new expiration date for your points.
Thanks to data points from Million Mile Secrets readers and folks on FlyerTalk, we know the book and cancel trick works to reset your points expiration date at these hotel chains:
But it will NOT work at:
Note: With Wyndham, points expire after 4 years and you can’t do anything to extend them. And they expire sooner (in 18 months) if you don’t earn or spend points.
For chains where this trick does work, I would only use it as a last resort. Because most hotel programs give you several ways to keep points alive, including:
- Buying or transferring hotel points
- Donating points to charity
- Earning points from a hotel co-branded credit card
- Having elite hotel status
- Making purchases through hotel shopping portals, like the Choice Privileges Online Mall or Hilton Shopping Mall
Of course you can avoid having your points expire by redeeming them for award stays at fantastic hotels throughout the world. Depending on which hotel points you collect, here are some ideas for inspiration:
- 5 Top Hyatt Hotels in the US
- Top 5 Hotels in Italy Using Marriott & Starwood Points
- 5 Outstanding Hotels in the Caribbean & Mexico You Can Book With IHG Points
- 5 Amazing Hotels in Asia You Can Book With Hilton Points
But if you do plan to use the book and cancel trick, I’d recommend checking for strict cancellation policies. For example, sometimes award bookings are non-refundable if you’re booking a stay during peak travel times.
Team member Keith once booked an award stay at the Sheraton Omaha. And the cancellation policy required ~30 days notice to cancel or a $329 cancellation fee would be required!
It’s possible to book and cancel an award stay to extend the expiration date of your hotel points at these chains:
But I’d only recommend using this trick as a last resort. Because there are several ways to extend the life of your hotel points at most chains, including buying or transferring hotel points or earning points with a hotel credit card.
The best way to avoid losing your points by a certain expiration date is by redeeming them for award stays!
Thanks for the question, Kris!