4 Easiest Ways to Keep Miles from Expiring

Everyone seems to be concerned with their airline miles expiring because they don’t fly with Delta, US Airways, United, and American every 18 months.

First, let’s explore when your miles will expire:

Airline When Miles Expire
Alaska Airlines 24 months without activity
American Airlines 18 months without activity
British Airways 36 months without activity
Delta Airlines Delta Miles Don’t expire
Frontier Airlines 18 months without EARNING
Southwest Airlines 24 months without activity
United Airlines 18 months without activity
US Airways 18 months without activity

1. Get a co-branded credit card and earn some miles

This is the easiest way to keep the miles that you have worked so hard to accrue.  All of these airlines offer some version of a credit card, and you can sign up for these cards on our Best Travel Credit Cards Page.

Spending even something as little as $1 on your card will reset the clock and give you and additional 18, 24, or 36 months to keep your airline miles from expiring.

Plus with many of these cards you can earn the bonus time and time again, so why not keep getting new bonuses on top of keeping the miles that you already have? Last week I was approved for the AAdvantage Business card, and I’ve got another 50k bonus just waiting to be fulfilled.  I can almost taste the gelato!

2. Transfer miles from your Membership Rewards/Ultimate Rewards account

Last week I gave an instructional on how to transfer miles from my Ultimate Rewards account to United Airlines.  I still had quite a bit of time before my 18 months, were up, but it is still a good idea to work on the safe side.

It had been almost two years since my last Southwest airlines flight, so I transferred 1000 miles there too just to keep my account up to date.  That gives me another 24 months with Southwest.

If you participate in any of the programs affiliated with either Membership Rewards or Ultimate rewards, this is super easy.  It doesn’t cost anything, and just takes a few minutes to complete.

3. Redeem a few miles for a magazine subscription

Earlier this year I had about 3500 Hilton HHonors points that were going to expire.  If you’re familiar with the HHonors program this would give me about 1/100th of a free night (exaggeration).  The points weren’t worth much, but being such a cheapskate I couldn’t stand to have the go by the wayside.

I logged into my HHilton account and found that I could redeem 1500 of the miles for a subscription to Inc magazine.  I probably could have found something cheaper, but the magazine probably wouldn’t have been worth the paper it was printed on.  The Inc magazine gives business owners tips and has some valuable information.  I’ve still got 2000 miles that will more than likely be redeemed for another subscription in another 18 months.

Milesformags.com is a great website to check out for this purpose.

keep miles from expiring

Miles for Mags

Frequent flier miles

Siempre Mujer-300 miles

You can turn 1400 miles that would otherwise expire worthless into 56 issues of Sport Illustrated. (If you’re married you better not order the swimsuit edition).  If you didn’t care about any of the magazines, you could always pick up the Siempre Mujer magazine for 300 measly miles. Even ordering the Siempre Mujer and using it as a flyswatter or recycling it would be much better than watching your miles go down the drain.

To top it off, not only will this keep miles from expiring, but it doesn’t cost you anything.  They don’t charge you a processing fee, or a postage fee either.  (It isn’t an “As Seen On TV ad)

4. Use the Airline Shopping Portals to Earn Miles

You probably don’t know these even exist.  Most people don’t realize it, but you can shop online at places like Walmart, Walgreens, Best Buy, and others through the airline shopping portal and earn miles for ever dollar spent.

To sweeten the pot, they’re willing to give you more than one point per dollar sometimes. Here is a sample of the points per dollar you can earn.

keep miles from expiring

Points per dollar on AAdvantageeshopping.com

More than likely you’re already shopping at these stores, and you’re probably shopping online at all of these stores. Why not add a few miles to your tank, and ensure that your hard earned miles don’t go by the wayside.

Here are the links to the major airlines’ online shopping portals.  Use these to make sure your miles don’t expire.

In most of these cases you can order a song from iTunes for $o.99 and extend the life of your miles.  It might take you an additional few minutes than you’d otherwise spend, but think about the wonderful vacations that you’ll be taking.  It’ll be worth it!


Keep your miles from expiring!  Follow any one of these simple steps to keep the points alive, then catch the vision of wanderlusting and start doing all of these.  Soon you’ll be booking trips all across the world.

How else do you work to keep your airline miles?


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3 Responses to 4 Easiest Ways to Keep Miles from Expiring

  1. The Montane Vole says:

    I find the easiest way to do it is to register credit cards with the airline’s dining plan, which enables you to earn miles simply by dining at any of over 6000 restaurants nationwide and paying for it with a registered card. Since each purchase earns up to 5 miles per dollar and sometimes there are even bonuses (though none recently, alas!), it’s also an easy way to add a TON of miles!! Given a choice between a restaurant that will give me miles and one that won’t, assuming they are equally good, I know which one I will choose every single time!! I think it only works with one airline per person, though, so choose one where the expiration date is an issue (it isn’t with Delta, for example, as your chart shows).

    • Sheldon says:

      @themotanevole You’re right. This is another great way to earn extra miles. Being from Idaho where we only had one restaurant in town that participated I’ve overlooked this as a viable option. Thanks for pointing it out.

  2. Pingback: Airline miles value sinking faster now; use them or lose them! — Bob Sullivan

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