Airline Miles Expiration Policies: Keep Miles from Expiring
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Hilary Stockton
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Apart from Delta, most airline miles expire after 18 miles or so, sometimes even sooner. A good way to track miles expiration used to be Award Wallet, but unfortunately key airlines such as American, United, and Delta have bowed out. American hasn't even allowed a workaround, although for United you can have statements emailed to AwardWallet. You can also still input your the expiration dates manually and view them. 

However you track them, don't forget about any large miles balances, since even if you don't have an immediate need for them, they could come in handy later. It's especially important for families that travel a lot not to forget about keeping their kids' miles alive, since your kids won't be tracking them (well, unless you've managed to get them miles obsessed *really* young!) You (and your family) earned the miles, so don't let them expire! 

 

AIRLINE MILES EXPIRATION POLICIES

American Airlines: 18 Months

British Airways: 36 Months

Delta: Miles Never Expire

JetBlue: 12 Months 

United: 18 Months

US Airways: 18 Months


Best Ways To Keep Miles From Expiring Without Flying

  • Purchase a $1 or more item (such as an iTunes song) through the airline's shopping portal
  • Download the airline shopping portal's toolbar to a browser you don't regularly use, and earn miles from searches
  • Use the airline's cobranded credit card to earn miles
  • Transfer hotel points into airline miles


AMERICAN AIRLINES

AAdvantage Mile Expiration Policy: "AAdvantage members must have mileage earning or redeeming activity once every 18 months in order to retain their miles. If your account has no qualifying activity in any 18-month period, all miles in the account will expire."


Keep American AAdvantage Miles From Expiring By Earning Miles

  • Use one of your AAdvantage credit cards
  • Earn AAdvantage miles monthly with BankDirect
  • Transfer hotel points to AAdvantage Miles. I recently did this with Wyndham points that I would never have used for Wyndham stays, even before the recent devaluation.
  • Buy an iTunes song or other item via the AAdvantage eShopping Portal Note that miles can take up to 8 weeks to post
  • Earn miles with AAdvantage Dining If you're a new member, you can earn 1000 bonus AAdvantage miles by signing up, spending $40 at a participating restaurant within 30 days, then reviewing the restaurant.
  • Earn Miles with Thanks Again
  • Fly free: If you have the AMEX Platinum, select American for your airline fee credit, buy a gift card, then book a cheap AA flight, free (or at least discounted) thanks to the fee credit while still earning miles.
  • Stay at a Partner Hotel
  • Rent a Car
Other Ways to Earn That I Don't Recommend:
  • AA Shopping Toolbar: You're supposed to be able to earn 1 mile for every 3 searches, but it can be glitchy, so I wouldn't count on this alone to prevent miles expiration.
  • e-Miles and e-Rewards: Tons of emails, so use a throwaway email. IMHO, not worth the time and junk mail.
  • Points.com: As expected, horrible exchange ratios. Should be a last resort.

Keep AAdvantage Miles From Expiring By Redeeming Miles
 

BRITISH AIRWAYS

British Airways Avios Expiration Policy"Your Avios points stay with you as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months — any longer and your Avios will expire and be removed"

Keep British Airways Avios From Expiring By Earning Avios
  • Use the British Airways Visa
  • Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Try to do this when there's a transfer bonus. A 30% percent transfer bonus just ended, but in the past there have been 40% and even 50% transfer bonuses
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points: Not as lucrative as transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points with a transfer bonus, and note that 1000 is the minimum transfer amount.
  • Transfer Hotel Points
  • Buy an iTunes song or other item via the British Airways eStore
  • Buy Avios Sometimes Cash & Avios redemptions are good value--so even if you don't have enough Avios for an award, check if a Cash & Avios fare is offered
  • Book a Partner Hotel, credit to British Airways Executive Club
  • Rent a Car with Avis, credit to British Airways Executive Club
  • Credit a cheap oneworld flight to British Airways
Other Ways to Earn, and Why I Don't Recommend Them:
  • Share Avios: Pretty expensive: minimum amount to transfer is 1000 and it costs $45. Surely you can earn Avios more cheaply with one of the other above ideas. Sharing does reset the 36 month clock for both the person sharing and the person receiving Avios.

Keep Avios From Expiring By Redeeming Avios


JETBLUE

TrueBlue Points Expiration Policy"Points don't expire as long as you earn points by flying JetBlue or using the JetBlue Card from American Express on eligible purchases at least once in a 12-month period."

Whoa! Well, that's pretty limiting: you have to either fly JetBlue or use the JetBlue AMEX card at least once every year.


UNITED

United Miles Expiration Policy: "Mileage accrued shall only be subject to expiration on the last day of the eighteen (18) months after the last account activity in the member's account"
 

Keep United Miles From Expiring By Earning Miles
  • Have the United MileagePlus Explorer Card (as long as you have an active card, your United miles won't expire)
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points (from your Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus or Freedom) to United miles
  • Transfer hotel points to United miles. I'd recommend transferring low value points, such as Wyndham, Choice or Hilton or Priority Club, and not high value points such as Hyatt, and especially not Starwood.
  • Buy an iTunes song or other item via the United MileagePlus Shopping Portal Note that miles can take up to 8 weeks to post
  • Earn miles with MileagePlus Dining If you're a new member, you can earn 1000 United bonus miles by signing up, spending $40 at a participating restaurant within 30 days, then reviewing the restaurant.
  • Earn Miles with Thanks Again
  • Fly free: If you have the AMEX Platinum, select United for your airline fee credit, buy a gift card, then book a cheap United flight, free (or at least discounted) thanks to the fee credit while still earning miles.
  • Stay at a Partner Hotel: Aim to credit a cheap hotel stay to United, and avoid crediting a Starwood stay since Starwood points are worth a bit more than United miles.
  • Rent a Car
Other Ways to Earn, and Why I Don't Recommend Them:
  • United MileagePlus Shopping Toolbar: Some folks have had trouble getting miles to post by searching using the United MileagePlus Shopping Toolbar, so I would suggest *NOT* relying on this to keep your miles from expiring.
  • e-Miles and e-Rewards: Time consuming and tons of emails--make sure you use a throwaway email if you do this
  • Points.com: Needless to say, exchange rates are horrible. Only as a last resort!
 

Keep United Miles From Expiring By Redeeming Miles

Other Ways to Redeem, and Why I Don't Recommend Them:
  • Book a Hotel or Car Rental Award: Not great value for your United miles compared to international premium class flight awards.
  • Subscribe to a Magazine: United miles are valuable--try to avoid spending them on anything other than flight awards that are important to you.


US AIRWAYS

Dividend Miles Expiration Policy: "Miles are subject to forfeiture if no miles have been earned or redeemed within a consecutive 18-month period"

"At 15 - 17 months of inactivity, customers can pay a $9 preservation fee to remain active for another 18 months."

And even after expiration, you can pay to get miles reinstated, although for most people this isn't worth it, especially when you can earn 40,000 or more US Airways miles just by signing up for a credit card and making a purchase.
 
Keep US Airways Dividend Miles From Expiring By Earning Miles
  • Use the US Airways MasterCard
  • Answer Theater Trivia
  • Transfer hotel points to Dividend Miles. As noted above, I'd recommend transferring low value points, such as Wyndham, Choice or Hilton or Priority Club
  • Buy an iTunes song or other item via the US Airways Dividend Miles Shopping Portal. Note that miles can take up to 8 weeks to post.
  • Earn miles with US Airways Dividend Dining If you're a new member, you can earn 1000 bonus Dividend miles by signing up, spending $40 at a participating restaurant within 30 days, then reviewing the restaurant.
  • Earn Miles with Thanks Again
  • Stay at a Partner Hotel: Credit the stay to Dividend Miles. I'd recommend crediting a cheap, non-Starwood stay, given that Starwood points are worth more than Dividend Miles.
  • Rent a Car
Other Ways to Earn That I Don't Recommend:
  • Fly US Airways: One of my least favorite legacy carriers to fly
  • US Air Shopping Toolbar: Similar to United, not all the searches seem to post the expected points. 
  • e-Miles and e-Rewards
  • Points.com


Keep US Airways Dividend Miles From Expiring By Redeeming Miles
  • Book an Airline Award: A good bet is a business class roundtrip to Asia for only 90,000 miles. But forget trying to book Lufthansa First Class.
  • Donate US Air Miles
Other Ways to Redeem That I Don't Recommend:


What are your favorite ways to keep your miles from expiring?

Related Posts

Tracking and Managing Miles, Points and Credit Cards

AwardWallet Review: Track Miles and Points

BankDirect: Best Way to Earn AAdvantage Miles for Half a Cent Per Mile

 

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