Do Etihad Guest Miles Expire?

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Etihad Guest Miles will expire after 18 months without qualifying account activity. However, they've recently made some changes that will be an improvement over the old program where the miles expired after 24 months, regardless of activity.

In a press release on November 15, 2019, Etihad stated the following:

“Etihad Guest Miles will no longer expire and will remain valid as long as one eligible transaction is made every 18 months”

However, they haven't gotten around to updating the “All about miles” section of their FAQ page, which still shows the old policy of points expiring after two years, regardless of activity.

Etihad Mileage Expiration Policy Change

Do Etihad Guest Miles Expire?
Etihad’s new expiration policy puts it on even footing with the majority of loyalty programs. At one extreme, we’ve seen several programs align themselves with Delta’s policy that miles never expire—regardless of account activity. At the other end of the spectrum, some programs still expire miles a certain number of months after they were earned—even if you have account activity.

Etihad was a part of the latter group until recently, with miles expiring after two-to-three years, depending on elite status:

  • Guest Members (basic, free membership level) – valid for 2 years from the date they are earned
  • Silver Members – valid for 2.5 years from the date they are earned
  • Gold & Platinum members – valid for 3 years from the date they are earned

Going forward, Etihad Guest miles won't expire as long as you have some qualifying activity at least once every 18 months. Qualifying activity includes transferring points into your account, buying or spending miles, and booking travel with a qualifying partner.

Reset Expiration with Points Earned from Credit Cards

Unfortunately for U.S.-based members, it doesn't appear easy (and may not be possible) to apply for an Etihad Guest co-branded credit card, unless you also hold residence in the U.A.E. However, that doesn't mean you don't have options. Several of the well-established transferrable points currencies, such as American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy can be transferred to Etihad Guest. Using Awardwallet's handy tracking tool, you can determine approximately how long you'll have to wait for your points to transfer.

American Express Membership Rewards (Immediate transfer – 1:1 Ratio)

These are among my favorite because there are so many different ways to earn them and 19 total airline partners to redeem. Amex is a great way to reset your Etihad balance because transfers post instantly, unlike Citi ThankYou and Marriott.

American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
Annual Fee$250
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide.
  • 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
  • 1X on other purchases
  • 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.

Capital One (Immediate transfer – 2:1.5 Ratio)

Capital One is newer to the partner transfer game, as it has typically been known for its cashback cards. Like Amex, Capital One Rewards transfer to Etihad instantly, but the transfer ratio results in fewer points than Amex. On the other hand, heavy spenders will earn rewards faster since many of the Capital One miles-earning cards earn 2x miles on purchases. If your goal is simply to reset your mileage expiration, Capital One is a great first choice.

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
Annual Fee$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Welcome Offer 50,000 Miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is one of just a handful of business rewards cards offering at least a 2% return on business expenses (issued as 2x Miles), plus you'll earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠. Your rewards never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
  • 50,000 Miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening; worth $500 in travel if redeemed for a fixed-value, or potentially much more when transferred to airline partners
  • 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere
  • 5 Miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® (up to $100)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
  • 2 Miles per $1 on every purchase, everywhere.
  • 5 Miles on hotel and rental car bookings through Capital One Travel℠

Citi ThankYou (3-7 days transfer – 1:1 Ratio)

If you have time to spare, Citi is another option to reset your Etihad balance, but transfers can take up to a week to post. You can find more detail on the other Citi Transfer partners in our dedicated post. On the earning side, there are several good options for accumulating points, but not all cards have access to Etihad as a transfer partner, so be sure to review the post linked above.

Citi® Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. (After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness.)
The Citi Double Cash is a dynamic, no-annual-fee cash-back rewards card that allows you to earn 2% traditional cash back, or convert your rewards to ThankYou Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio (2x ThankYou points per $1). When paired with a premium ThankYou Rewards earning card, the Citi Double Cash is now the best card available for everyday, non-bonus purchases.

If you're looking to pay down debt or finance a larger purchase, this card also comes with one of the best available introductory APR offers on balance transfers.
  • 2% cash back on every purchase - 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the (Variable) APR will be 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness
  • No annual fee
This card makes earning rewards simple with no need to worry about keeping track of bonus categories for purchases with specific types of merchants. You'll earn 2% cash back on every purchase—1% when you buy and 1% when you pay. Citi cash rewards now also convert to ThankYou points at 1:1 ($10 = 100 ThankYou points).

Marriott Bonvoy (3-7 days transfer 3:1.25)

As is the case with Citi, Marriott Bonvoy points won't transfer immediately. Marriott has by far the largest list of transfer partners, and for many programs, it is the only option to transfer points. In addition to being slower than Amex and Capital One, Marriott transfers get a bonus when you transfer in increments of 60,000 points, so this isn't the first choice if you need to reset your Etihad balance. Here's our roundup of the credit cards that earn Marriott Bonvoy points.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™.
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Bonvoy points and get Free Night Stays faster.
  • 6X Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

Earning Etihad Miles on Partner Airlines

Although Etihad's own flights can be a great way to spend your miles, they have a superb lineup of partner airlines. To keep your miles active, just enter your Etihad Guest member number into one of the above partners, and you'll earn more miles according to their terms/charts.

You can redeem Etihad Guest miles on all of these partners except Jet Airways. Etihad also includes European low-cost carrier Flybe on its list of redemption partners. Each airline has its own award chart (you can find them here), so there are lots of sweet spots to be found.

Earning Etihad Miles with Cars and Hotels

Hotels and car rental agencies can help you keep your miles active too. These include Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Radisson, and Shangri-La. You can even use OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor, and Rocketmiles. With car rentals, well-known partners include Avis and Budget.

Buy Miles

Purchasing miles is rarely cost-effective for booking awards, but it can reset your expiration date. Miles typically cost two cents each, with a minimum purchase of 1,000 miles, but Etihad does occasionally sell miles with a discount or bonus.  Mile purchases are limited to purchasing 100,000 miles per year, but you'll only need the minimum to reset your expiration.

Here's the direct link to buy Etihad Miles (purchases are processed by Points.com)

According to Etihad Guest:

Miles may be purchased for $0.02 USD per mile. Additional GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents. A maximum of 100,000 miles can be purchased within a single calendar year, with a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction. Purchased miles are not refundable and are applicable towards all Etihad Guest awards. Miles purchased using this option will post instantly, in some cases it can take up to 72 hours until the miles are credited. Purchased miles do not count towards status upgrades. All standard Etihad Guest program rules and conditions apply.

Some have mentioned being able to purchase additional miles for less than one cent each when using “Miles plus cash.”

Other Changes

Etihad has also announced some other changes to its loyalty program. These include the following:

  • Pay for GuestSeats with less miles – Etihad Guest members will now need fewer miles to book a GuestSeat. Pay for just 50% of the cost of a GuestSeat using your miles and pay the rest with cash.
  • Onboard Wi-Fi for less – surf, stream or share the next time you fly with Etihad and save up to 75% off Wi-Fi on board. Platinum members will receive free Wi-Fi.
  • Pay for more with miles – it won't be just flights you can use your miles for; you'll also be able to cover your taxes and extras, including extra legroom seats, additional baggage, and more.

Bottom Line

None of us like losing rewards we've worked hard to earn, and this change allows members (loyal or not) to maintain their miles with activity. While it doesn't appear that you can get miles reinstated, there are options to reclaim miles when you've forgotten to enter your Etihad Guest member number on a partner reservation. Even though the new 18-month window is six months shorter than the old expiration policy, this is a positive change for anyone willing to spend a few minutes to reset their expiration date with one of the strategies described above.

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Comments

  • This is indeed a positive change from a ME airline. I can’t wait for Qatar and Emirates to follow suit.

    • That is a good point that hadn’t occurred to me, it probably will put pressure on the other two big Middle East airlines to follow suit. I’ve flown Emirates a few times but credited to Qantas, partly due to the fact I would never get enough Emirates miles to redeem before they expired.

  • Change can be good for some things!! Sounds like this a plus!! +

  • I have credited some miles from American Express Membership Rewards and when I visit my Etihad Guest account it’s still showing some miles expiring at the end of the year even though the miles have reached correctly my Etihad Guest account.
    So I don’t understand if the new rules are valid from next year or if it’s a glitch in their system.

  • “Etihad Guest Miles will no longer expire and will remain valid as long as one eligible transaction is made every 18 months.” — Okay, so they do expire. Got it. It’s just like AA’s policy. Why must they be dishonest?

    • Well when they used to straight up expire, I think it’s still an accurate headline.

    • At first, I was going to say it’s hard to call them dishonest when the full, accurate policy description is in the same sentence. However, since there are programs where miles simply never expire, without an activity requirement, like say United, I’d agree that this description is indeed weak sauce. No, your miles do expire, if we don’t take action. That’s substantially different than simply having a straightforward no expiration policy.

  • I wish they made this change a little earlier.
    I had 20K Etihad miles expired a few months ago. 🙁

  • For better or worse these programs will always change…. more often than not for worse

  • Although redemptions with EY miles on EY metal can often be astronomically high, this is nonetheless a nice, positive change by a loyalty program, which are all too infrequent these days. An 18 month window for activity is one of the more generous allowances out there.

  • Nice when miles don’t expire

  • This definitely changes my view of thus program. I avoided them completely before due to this expiration policy. I might be willing to use them now. Thanks for the update.

  • With all the airline devaluations recently, it is nice to see a positive change to an airline award program!

  • This change from 24 month to 18 month miles expiration sounds reasonable.

  • Tamar Felsteiner says:

    They should have made their miles unexpired like United and Delta.

  • The ideas in this post are great for earning miles. However, I live in Canada and the credit cards are not available. I am also currently disabled and cannot travel for awhile. If my comment is approved, I can earn 5 miles from Award Wallet and extend the expiration for my airlines program until I am able to travel again.

  • That’s good news. The old policy made no sense. I lost miles a few times under those rules.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Finally, some good news.

  • Wow. They used to have a hard date for expiration? How archaic. Glad to see it’s changed but I don’t think this will ever affect me.

  • Hard expiry rules are unfair from loyalty programmes, luckily there are usually ways around them.

  • The list of the hotel / accommodation partners is impressive.

  • Amazing how they change the rules just after a bunch of my miles expired!

  • Could it be that airlines are starting to realize that to maximize the value of a FF program (to the airline) there is a point too far for customers to continue with that program? We hope this continues with other FF programs.

  • Will bookmark this post for use when I need it.

  • Miles or points should never expire if there is activity. 18 months should have stayed at 24 months. Two years is not an unreasonable expectation.

  • This looks like a positive change for once.

  • Keeping miles valid is worth a bit of effort

  • For airlines participating in OneWorld, such as Etihad, I find it simpler to earn miles using AAdvantage, and not their individual programs. One can always redeem the AAdvantage miles on their partners, including Etihad.

  • I know they have a great range of partners, but I width they would join an alliance, preferably oneworld. Unfortunately it couldn’t happen with Qatar being in oneworld.

  • If only this had been implemented last year before I had to waste some valuable miles on a mastercard redemption

  • I will definitely be more likely to use this program knowing I can keep my miles longer.

  • Easy enough to keep them

  • Certainly good news, once changing from a worse system, but the AA style is still not quite the traveler’s dream yet.

  • Finally, they are making changes that make sense for the customers. Waiting for Emirates to follow suit.

  • Even though I had one activity in mid December some miles expired at the end of the year!

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