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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
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.
- 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 on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- $120 Dining Credit: 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.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- Rates & Fees
- 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.
- 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.
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
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.
- Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 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.
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.”
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.
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.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees)
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