Home Online Earning 11 Easy Ways To Keep Your Airline Miles From Expiring

11 Easy Ways To Keep Your Airline Miles From Expiring

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Airline frequent-flier miles expire. While business travelers and weekend warriors who fly regularly might not have to worry about this, occasional travelers might log into their mileage account after a while away from it only to find that the miles they earned over years of flying have simply disappeared overnight.

Luckily, there are many ways to keep your airline miles active, even if you are not flying anytime soon. Whatever you do, do not fall prey to the “save your miles now” ploys many airlines email out to get you to redeem your “soon-to-expire” miles at lackluster rates for things like magazine subscriptions or gift cards. Instead, use these savvy strategies to retain your miles with minimal effort and expense.

Keeping your miles active can be as simple as using your credit card to make a purchase. Shutterstock.

Before you start hoarding your hard-earned airline miles, though, I would also caution that, like many other kinds of currencies, airline miles only tend to lose value in the long run. Frequent-flier programs change their award charts and raise the levels at which you need to redeem miles for flights, not to mention cutting the earning rates on flights.

So think of miles as a kind of petty cash that you should be using regularly to supplement your travel budget, and by using them more frequently, you will also be pushing off their expiration date.

1. Know the expiration terms of your mileage programs: One of the reasons it’s so hard to keep track of miles expiration dates is that each frequent-flier program has a different set of terms. Some, like United MileagePlus miles, expire after 18 months of no account activity. Others, like Southwest Rapid Rewards, give you 24 months’ grace time. By having the term limits in mind, you can avoid the surprise of having your account zeroed out.

2. Pick a program with no expiration: While most frequent-flier programs do impose expiration dates, some major players do not. Notably, both Delta SkyMiles and JetBlue True Blue have done away with mileage expiration altogether. By picking an airline whose program does not impose expiration dates, you can be sure your miles will remain safe, even if you’re grounded unexpectedly for a while.

Pick a program like Delta SkyMiles, which does not impose any expiration limits on miles.Delta

3. Use a tracking program: These days, there are myriad websites and apps that will help you track not only your points and mileage balances, but also when your miles will expire, all in one place. Pick a program like AwardWallet, enter all your account info, and let them do the hard work of keeping your expiration dates straight.

4. Get an airline credit card: In general, every time you earn or redeem as little as a single airline mile, your expiration date resets. That’s why it can be extremely useful to carry an airline’s co-branded credit card. Every time you make a purchase with it, you earn miles, and thus reset your account expiration clock. Plus, many confer elite-style benefits like free checked bags and priority boarding that make your actual flying experience better.

5. Redeem your miles: Spending your miles on award tickets and other redemptions also registers as account activity and will generally reset your expiration countdown. If you have been saving your miles, but the expiration date is looming, put at least some of them to use by booking an award ticket in order to keep the rest active.

Redeeming miles for award flights keeps your account active.Singapore Airlines

6. Transfer points from other programs: Many airline mileage programs are transfer partners of major points programs like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards, not to mention hotel points programs like Starwood Preferred Guest Hilton Honors. When you transfer points from one of those into your frequent-flier account, that qualifies as account activity and resets the clock on your miles, too.

7. Earn with partners: Apart from transfer partners, airlines team up with all kinds of businesses, from other airlines to car rental agencies to cable companies, so that you can earn miles when making purchase from them. Especially when making other travel plans, like hotel bookings or car rentals, be sure to check your airline’s webpage about partners to see if you can earn bonus miles for expenses you’d be paying for anyway.

8. Shopping portals: Though it’s easy to forget, many U.S. airlines field so-called shopping portals where you can earn miles by making online purchases. A shopping portal, like American Airlines’ one for instance, is basically an airline website that links to major retailers like Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and hundreds of other merchants. When you log into the portal with your frequent-flier number, you then simply click on the merchant you would like to shop at, are redirected to its site, and can shop as you would normally. When you actually make your purchase, a cookie will register that you have come through your airline’s portal and you will earn bonus miles on your transaction. This way, it’s easy to earn miles on your everyday purchases and keep your account active longer.

Rewards Network partners with several U.S. airlines so you can earn miles at restaurants.Rewards Network

9. Dining rewards: Several major U.S. airlines including Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United, partner with a company called Rewards Network. When you sign up for Rewards Network via your airline portal of choice and register with a credit card, you will earn bonus miles for purchases you use that credit card to make at the thousands of affiliated restaurants. In addition to the three to five miles per dollar you’ll earn on your bill, each purchase also resets the expiration countdown on your mileage account.

10. Buy miles: While buying miles from an airline is not usually a good deal since you have to pay a lot more than the miles end up being worth, it is a quick and easy way to log some account activity in a pitch. Rates vary by airline, but it usually costs around $30 per 1,000 miles you buy. So if you have tens of thousands of miles that are about to expire, you could consider spending a little cash to save them.

11. Ask for your miles back…nicely: If your miles have already expired, you might still be in luck. Try calling your airline’s frequent-flier desk and asking if they can reinstate your account. Some airlines will do so for a one-time fee, which can range anywhere from $50 up to thousands of dollars, depending on how long the account has been inactive and how many miles were in it. However, agents can and might waive this fee in some cases, so be direct, be succinct, and be polite.

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