Pointshogger on CBC – The Exchange – Talking about Air Miles

I was on CBC the other day talking about the expiry of the Air Miles program. The main topic is about the upcoming December 31, 2016 change to the expiry policy. The CBC link is here, though it may be taken down after a few weeks.

How the Expiry Policy Works

Here is a quick recap on how the expiry policy work. Any reward miles earned more than 5 years before December 31, 2016, the miles begin to expire on a quarterly basis. The quarter ends are listed as follows:

  • March 31
  • June 30
  • September 30
  • December 31

For example, a mile that you earned in the month of January 2014 would expire (if unused) on March 31, 2019. So technically you have 5 years plus whatever days are left in the quarter. Minus the first batch of expiry on December 31, 2016.

The only way to prevent your miles from expiry is to become an Onyx member. So long as you maintain Onyx elite status, your Miles will not expire. To qualify for Onyx, you need to earn 6,000 reward miles in a calendar year.

Earn Air Miles in a Hurry

Time is definitely running out, so if you are looking to top up your account for a specific reward redemption or reach Onyx status, you will want to use credit card sign up bonuses to speed up the process. As you probably already know, there is no shortage of Air Miles co-branded credit cards to choose from:

  • American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
  • American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
  • American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
  • American Express AIR MILES Business Card
  • American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card
  • Bank of Montreal AIR MILES MasterCard
  • Bank of Montreal AIR MILES World MasterCard
  • Bank of Montreal AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
  • Bank of Montreal SPC AIR MILES MasterCard
  • Bank of Montreal AIR MILES Business Card
  • Bank of Montreal Gold AIR MILES Business Card

You can also check out our post that listed the top 5 ways to earn Air Miles.

Thoughts about the Expiry

The new expiry policy about to come into effect actually really sucks for people who have been accumulating since the beginning of time, back in 1992. If you have not managed to redeem your miles that you earned before December 31, 2011, you better do so sooner rather than later.

If you have been saving for a big reward redemption, you will want to do some calculations to determine whether you can make it in time. Otherwise, you will want to rethink your reward redemption strategy.

What to do Going Forward

I think the best strategy with Air Miles after the new expiry policy comes into effect is to use the earn and burn approach. You will just need to plan your earning strategy a little more carefully, if you are targeting a specific reward redemption. If you realise that you are not going to make it, it may take an additional credit card sign up or you will just need to change the reward that you have in mind.

It is no secret that Air Miles is going to become a little more tedious, so if you are unhappy with this new policy, you can always let a family or friend redeem for a specific reward than they could use, or just donate your miles (and get a tax receipt). Then give your loyalty business to another program.

That is the strategy that I have been going with. I changed my targeting reward to options that I know that I can achieve within 5 years of accumulating miles, so that I know that I can redeem my miles before they expire. Right now, all the miles that I have are pretty much earned only from the last 3 years or so.

Air Miles Current Balance

Show your Dissatisfaction

I have been hearing a lot of complaints about the Air Miles program and the change to its expiry policy. The best way to show Air Miles your dissatisfaction is to boycott their program. Remember, all companies care about is the bottom line. If they are making record profits, they don’t have much incentive to retain clients anyway, so complaining about it won’t help. When they start seeing that they are loosing money, because they are loosing customers, then they will wake up and fight to win your business back. At which point you can reconsider coming back.


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