“I want a credit card with points that don’t expire.”
That’s something I hear from many people, and to be fair, it’s a perfectly reasonable ask. After all, it may take a while to save up for your first big redemption. There’s nothing worse than getting pulled back from the finish line because some points you earned at the start of the journey expired!
Even though I don’t think expiring points should be that big a concern (I’ll explain why later), let’s deal with the question at hand first.
|💳 Credit Card FAQs|
|This article forms part of a series on Credit Card FAQs. Refer to the articles below for guides to other common questions.|
How long are credit card points valid for?
Here’s a summary of expiry policies by bank (note that some banks may have more than one rewards currency):
|💸 Points Expiry Policy|
|Membership Rewards||No expiry|
|Rewards Points||12-24 months|
|Citi Miles||No expiry|
|ThankYou Points||Up to 5 years|
|DBS Points||1 year|
|Rewards Points||37 months|
|90°N Miles||No expiry|
|VOYAGE Miles||No expiry|
|360° Rewards Points||Up to 3 years|
|*TREATS earned by Rewards Infinite members never expire|
But that’s not the whole story! Where it gets confusing is that even within the same bank, the same points earned on different cards may have different expiry policies.
For example, DBS Points earned on the Woman’s World Card expire after one year, but DBS Points earned on the Altitude cards never expire. Similarly, ThankYou points earned on the Citi Rewards Card are valid for up to five years, but ThankYou points earned on the Citi Prestige Card never expire.
So in addition to the general rules above, it’s helpful to set out which specific cards earn non-expiring points:
|💳 Cards with Non-expiring Points|
|Card||Local Earn Rate (MPD)||FCY Earn Rate (MPD)|
|SCB Visa Infinite||1.4*||3.0*|
|OCBC VOYAGE (Premier, PPC, BOS)||1.6||2.3|
|DBS Treasures AMEX||1.2||2.4|
|OCBC 90°N Card||1.3||2.1|
|SCB X Card||1.2||2.0|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||1.2||2.0|
|AMEX Platinum Charge||0.78||0.78|
|AMEX Platinum Reserve||0.69||0.69|
|AMEX Platinum Credit Card||0.69||0.69|
|Maybank World Mastercard||0.4||0.4|
|*Min S$2K spend per statement month, otherwise 1 mpd for both|
Are non-expiring points really that important?
Although it’s nice to earn points that don’t expire, I don’t believe this should be your key criteria for choosing a card. That’s because:
- You have more time than you think
- You shouldn’t be holding on to points so long that expiry becomes an issue
You have more time than you think
Most credit cards in Singapore earn points that are valid for at least 2 years. After that, you can transfer them to KrisFlyer where they’re valid for a further 3 years.
|💳 Exception: DBS Woman’s World Card|
|Points earned on the DBS Woman’s World Card expire after 1 year. That’s annoying, but the ability to earn 4 mpd on S$2K of online spending each month makes me willing to pay the additional transfer fees necessitated by the short expiry period.|
Therefore, in most cases, you have at least 5 years to save up for your desired redemption. If you’re not able to accumulate enough miles in that period for at least one award flight, it suggests that:
- you’re not optimising your miles collection strategy
- your miles goal is too ambitious relative to your spending (e.g. trying to redeem for too many people, or in too high a cabin)
- your absolute spending levels are too low (but before you write off the miles game as only for big spenders, consider whether you’re truly optimising your miles collection in the first place)
You shouldn’t be holding on to points indefinitely
Non-expiring points can be a bad thing, if they encourage you to hold them indefinitely without any clear redemption plan. The longer you hold your points, the more vulnerable you are to devaluations.
Saving up your miles for retirement might have been viable in the early days of frequent flyer programmes, but it’s unthinkable today. Given how airlines are handing out miles for everything from opening a credit card to buying flowers, the pace of devaluations is only likely to accelerate in the future.
To put it another way, miles are amazing, but they’re the worst investment to hold. They don’t earn interest, they’re not protected by deposit insurance, and they can only be devalued. Earn and burn, not earn and hold!
But what about transfer fees?
It’s certainly true that non-expiring points help minimise transfer fees, because there’s no pressure to cash them out before you’re ready. For example, if you hold a DBS Woman’s World Card, you’ll have to transfer points at least once every 12 months, or else forfeit them.
|Issuer||Per Conversion||Annual Option|
|1. Waived for all AMEX Platinum and AMEX Centurion cardholders|
2. Waived for Citi ULTIMA cardholders
3. Automatic conversions in blocks of 500 DBS points (1,000 miles) each quarter. Addition ad-hoc redemptions can be done for free
4. Covers all HSBC cards you may have, even though HSBC points don’t pool
5. Waived for Maybank Visa Infinite and Maybank World Mastercard cardholders
6. Waived for UOB Reserve, UOB Visa Infinite Metal, UOB Visa Infinite and UOB Privilege Banking cardholders
7. Automatic conversions in blocks of UNI$2,500 (5,000 miles) each month for balances above UNI$15,000. Additional ad-hoc redemptions cost S$25
While transfer fees are annoying and you should be doing all you can to minimise them, I feel they’re ultimately insignificant in the grand scheme of things. To put it another way: I wouldn’t actively avoid the DBS Woman’s World Card or the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa just because they earn points with 1-2 years expiry. The opportunity cost of foregone miles far outweighs any additional transfer fees.
While it’s nice to have non-expiring points, it ultimately isn’t that big a factor in my decision whether or not to get a particular card.
So my advice is not to get too hung up about this. Pick cards on the basis of their earn rates and transfer partners, and with the right accumulation strategy, you’ll be earning and burning points so fast that expiry won’t even be an issue.