When Do Lufthansa Miles Expire?

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I’m frequently asked about Lufthansa’s mileage expiration policy. Most airlines publish pretty straightforward mileage expiration policies, though Lufthansa is an exception.

Lufthansa-Mileage-Expiration

In general Lufthansa Miles & More miles expire 36 months after they’re issued. At least that’s the simple answer. The slightly longer answer (which works in our favor) is that they expire at the end of the quarter 36 months after they’re issued. In other words, if you earn miles in October 2014 they expire in December 2017.

Unlike with other airlines, that policy is based on when the miles are earned and not based on when you last had mileage activity. With the major US programs you can keep your miles “alive” just by having some qualifying activity every so often (usually every ~18 months). With Lufthansa, however, miles typically expire regardless of when your last activity was, but rather exclusively based on when they were earned.

There are two exceptions for extending the life of your Lufthansa miles beyond 36 months:

  • Lufthansa miles do not expire if you have the Premier Miles & More® World Mastercard® (or their co-branded credit card issued in select other countries) for at least three months, and make a minimum of one eligible purchase per month. If you cancel the credit card, the original expiration date applies again, though you do have until the end of the quarter to redeem them.
  • Lufthansa miles do not expire if you’re an elite member — Frequent Traveller, Senator, or HON Circle — in the Miles & More program. If you lose status, your 36 month “clock” starts from the time that your status is lost.

Also, while I know this is obvious to many, it’s worth noting that you only have to redeem your miles by the expiration date. You can still book travel for subsequent dates as long as the ticket is issued before the miles are set to expire.

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Comments

  1. So their IT keeps track of the date you got each chunk of miles and expires only the oldest of them at 36 months?

  2. I’m confused about the CC exception. If a month elapses when you don’t make a purchase on your Lufthansa CC, does that suddenly doom you to the 36-month expiration policy for the rest of time?

  3. The first exception is why I have the Premier Miles & More MC and why I ensure that at least two monthly bills are automatically paid using this card–to guarantee that there is a charge every month. That essentially makes my LH miles permanent until I want to use them (or they change the exception!).

  4. Lucky,

    Longtime reader but first time commenter. Two things I think are worth mentioning:

    1. Kids can get no mileage expiration until turning 18 through the JetFriends program.

    2. Miles will remain in your account for three years after losing FTL/SEN/HON status. So if you lost your FTL status in Feb. 2011, your miles wouldn’t have expired until Feb. 2014. JetFriends will extend the expiration for an elite child until he turns 18.

    Andy

  5. This topic might be of interest to the less frequent travellers among your readers. I recieved an email not long ago informing me that my avios were about to expire. “The swines!!” I thought to myself.

    However it turns out that rather than take a flight within Europe and still pay a fortune in fees and hotel bills, I could exchange them for wine! What’s more: the avios were earned through business travel funded by my employer which made it all the more sweeter.

    Perhaps it would be worth enlightening people on the best non-travel uses of miles and points?

  6. “the best non-travel uses of miles and points”

    Why does the term oxymoron suddenly come to mind?

    But for those who are wondering, the correct answer is: get a toaster. 🙂

  7. I got the 50k Lufthansa miles after opening up the credit card about 18 months ago. I have since cancelled it. I assume I have another 18 months or more before the miles cancel.
    Do you know if this Barclays card is churnable? Could I get the bonus again if I reapply, and also as a result preserve the life of my current unused miles?

  8. Actually it’s not this simple.

    The conditions state that you need to make at least one charge per calendar month. FYI the charge has to be for at least a dollar since if you charge less than that you don’t get your one mile.

    But Barclay has their computers programed to require a charge once per billing cycle, not per calendar month. Because billing cycles don’t generally cycle on the first of the month it’s easy to meet the terms and conditions but still have Barclays report out to M & M zero miles for a month when in fact you made a charge. LH is well aware of the problem because it has been there for years and has been repeatedly brought to their attention yet Barclays has never fixed the problem and as far as I know LH has never changed the rules to correspond with what is really going on.

    Because of this I’d recommend that anyone with a significant M&M balance make at least two charges per month spaced about two weeks apart. That way if you don’t remember or can’t keep your cycle date straight you will have made a charge both once a calendar month and once a cycle assuring you won’t lose your miles.

    Be aware that if you miss even one month your miles start expiring 36 months later. There is no way to go back and fix things. That said M & M has been known to reset the meter for individuals who can show they met the once per month required by the actual terms and conditions.

  9. Barclays actually has the conflict between what they promise and what they do right in their T &C’s. Note the requirement to charge is per month but they report out miles to LH per billing period.

    “No mileage expiration: all unused miles, which have been awarded to your Miles & More account and those you will earn in the future remain valid for an unlimited period of time and will no longer expire provided that you make a purchase for which miles are awarded at least once a month…”

    “On the closing date of each billing cycle that your Account remains open and current, we will report to Miles & More the Net Purchases charged to your Account during a billing cycle and request that Miles & More award mileage credit…”

  10. @ Robert — Seems to depend on who you ask. I know people that have gotten the bonus after waiting a year, others had to wait two years, others couldn’t get one again at all.

  11. Any idea what would happen if you booked a trip around the 36 month – when your miles are set to expire – and then cancelled that trip?

    Would the miles go back in your account? Would they possibly be extended? Or would they be gone forever?

  12. @ Seth — That’s a great question, don’t have any experience with that. I’d guess they would go back into the account but then quickly expire based on the original expiration date.

  13. Lucky, I’m just shy of my goal for an LH award r/t next Sept and just found out they no longer sell miles. How long ago did this happen? I thought the opportunity to top off an account was kind of an industry standard. Do you know of any other mileage programs that don’t sell miles?

  14. Wow- missed that. And clearly I didn’t type in the right search criteria (because I did do a better job of searching for my answer this time!) : )
    Thanks.

  15. Reviewing their website on this, the FAQ says:
    “…or who have a German Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card* are not affected by this mileage expiry deadline.
    (*For customers with an international Miles & More Credit Card special terms and conditions apply.)

    They don’t, however, elucidate on those special terms and conditions. Are you aware of them?

  16. I too got Lufthansa miles via the Barclay card, which I since cancelled.

    I haven’t used my 50K miles yet, so I was wondering…….if/when the 3-year mark approaches would I be able to convert another Barclay card into a Lufthansa card – thereby keeping my account active?

  17. The Lufthansa website strangely says I have 7,700 miles expiring at the end of this month. When I check my history, in Nov 2013, I earned the 20,000 bonus + 1992 from spend. If it is based on when the miles were earned, any idea how they came up with 7,700 miles expiring since I didn’t earn 7,700 miles at the start of my account?

  18. My question is do you have 36 months to travel or 36 months to book? This makes a big difference.

  19. Hi
    I have lost around 96K Lufthansa miles in the course of 8 years. How do I get that credit back.

  20. Is there anyway to get back expired miles? I completely forgot about it and it expired over a year ago.

  21. I have lost over 490,000 miles and trying to see if there is a way to get the expired mile.. I have written to them no reply.

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