Via New Girl in the Air, Starwood has made its point expiration policy more customer-friendly.
Previously you needed hotel points-earning activity or points earned via a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card every 12 months in order to keep your account active.
Now you’ll just need points activity of any kind in your account during 12 months to keep that account active — transferring points to an airline, redeeming points, even earning a handful of points via Audience Rewards trivia will all keep your account active and extend your expiration date by 12 months.
It’s not as big a deal as the across the board improvements to elite benefits (where everyone except Platinums staying fewer than 50 nights are unambiguously better off, and even those Platinums now have an option for free breakfast). But it’s an improvement nonetheless.
Of course Gold and Platinum member accounts don’t have their points expire. So if you’re a Gold you first have to be downgraded due to inactivity before seeing your points expire. If you’re a Platinum you’ll first be downgraded to Gold and then to general member (or Preferred Plus or Corporate Preferred) before the clock starts ticking on expiration.
My understanding is the Lifetime Elites can actually see their points expire though, despite their status — SPG plans to simulate the downgrade process. A Lifetime Platinum without activity for two years would see a 12 month clock towards expiration. That is, a Lifetime Platinum without activity of any kind in their account for 3 years would have their points expire.