Airline Mileage Expiration Policies and Tricks to Keep Your Miles Active

The double edged sword of mileage diversification is that people are afraid that their miles will expire before you need them.  With a minimal effort you ought to be able to keep your miles from expiring.

When do airline miles expire?

AirlineExpiration Policy
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan24 months without activity
American AAdvantage18 months without activity
British Airways Avios36 months without activity
Delta SkyMilesNever expire
Frontier EarlyReturns18 months without earning miles
Southwest Rapid Rewards24 months without activity
Spirit Airlines Free Spirit Miles3 months without activity
United MileagePlus 18 months without activity
US Airways Dividend Miles18 months without activity (pay a fee to reactivate miles up to 36 months without activity)

How do I keep my airline miles from expiring?

AwardWalletFirst, of all the best way to track your expiration dates is by using Award Wallet (image to the right shows a sample of the expiration column from Award Wallet).  This is a free service that helps you track your mileage earning activity.  If you are really concerned about miles expiring with a certain program then I’d set a calendar reminder or visit a site like FutureMe.org and schedule an reminder three months before you miles are schedule to expire.  This way you can be sure to have some account activity before miles expire.

Remember, with the exception of Frontier all you need is account activity.  That can be earning points (by flying or other ways to earn points) or by spending points (for flights or other spending).  Thus, your really have a tremendous opportunity to keep miles active.

For illustration purposes I’ll assume that you have miles expiring with United.  We’ll assume that you don’t plan to do any flying before the miles expire.  What could we do to keep those miles active?

How to Keep United Miles from Expiring?

The first place to stop is United’s page on earning miles.  Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Make a single purchase with your United credit card (assuming you have one)
  2. Rent a car from any one of eight eligible partners.
  3. Use any one of three ground transportation services (like Super Shuttle).
  4. Stay at any one of eight hotel networks and credit your stay to United.
  5. Travel on Amtrak and get United miles.
  6. Book a vacation, cruise, or expedition with a valid partner.
  7. Earn points by shopping through the United MileagePlus Mall.  As a quick example, I went to drugstore.com from the mileage mall and found soap for $1.27.  With shipping the total would be $7.26.  That’s a small price to pay to keep your miles active for another 18 months.
  8. Get miles when you dine at eligible restaurants.
  9. Open an account with and eligible financial partner.  The easiest option is to open a ShareBuilder account and make a single trade.  You’ll get 2,000 miles for doing this.
  10. Plus a ton of other ways.

Moral of the story: There’s no reason why you should ever be concerned that your miles will expire as long as you’re willing to watch your expiration dates and creatively create activity if necessary.

The cost of keeping your miles active is much less than reactivating your miles.

Here’s the cost depending on how many miles you’ll be reactivating:

  • 1 – 25,000 = $50
  • 25,001 – 50,000 = $100
  • 50,001 – 75,000 = $150
  • 75,001 – 100,000 = $200
  • 100,001-150,000 = $300
  • >150,000 = $400

As such, I’d much rather pay $7.50 for a bar of soap before my miles expire than pay any of these amounts to reactivate my miles.  Basically, if you have more than 5,000 miles with a program it’s

If you have miles expiring just go to their website and find out all the ways you can earn miles.  Almost every program has a shopping portal that will allow you to earn miles.

If after you’ve done that work if you still can’t find a reasonably priced way to keep your miles active send me an email or leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you with some options.

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