"You're pretty much hosed," claims Toronto collector John MacKenzie.
At the close of 2011, Air Miles introduced a five-year expiry date on rewards miles. That means on Jan.1, 2017, any unused miles collected before 2012 will disappear and become worthless. The rewards program launched in Canada in 1992.
For 95 miles, customers can get a $10 gift card in the cash category. Many offerings in the dream section such as household products, leisure activities and vacation deals require thousands of miles.
The dream section does offer a $100 gift card for select grocers, but it requires 50 miles plus a cash payment of $95 — almost the value of the card.
Engen, who lives in Lethbridge, Alta., has 400 dream miles he must use by January. He says he hasn't found a way to redeem them.
"I'm having a hard time finding something worthwhile."
MacKenzie has 1,400 dream miles and says there's not much he can do with them. Because he can't access cash rewards, he tried to donate his points to charity. But he soon discovered that the option is only available in the cash category.
So MacKenzie has concluded his miles are worthless. "I'm just going to throw the card away. It's pointless."
Air Miles points to sweepstakes (external - login to view) people can enter to win a vacation or a meet-and-greet with a celebrity for as little as 50 miles. The company also noted that collectors can get a dining discount book (external - login to view) for 500 miles.
Engen and MacKenzie say those options don't interest them. "Absolutely would not consider entering a sweepstakes," says Engen.
"Might as well just flush them down the toilet."
After hearing complaints from other collectors about limited options, Engen posted online an open letter (external - login to view) to Air Miles.
He calls on the company to allow collectors to make a one-time transfer of their dream miles to the cash category before the end of the year.
"That would be a show of good faith for the company and their members," says Engen. "Because they're going to lose a lot of [members]."
Collector MacKenzie suggests another option would be for Air Miles to cancel its five-year expiry rule.
"Just change the policy like Aeroplan did," he suggests.
Aeroplan introduced a seven-year expiry rule in 2007. But after public outcry, the rewards program axed the plan (external - login to view) before miles started to expire in 2014.
Air Miles customers have also been complaining about long wait times to reach customers service by phone and technical difficulties with the company website (external - login to view).
'You're pretty much hosed': Air Miles rewards lacking for expiring points, customers complain - Business - CBC News