Today's consumer experience is inundated with reward programs. This includes airline version that award points or miles. Although it's exciting to watch our balances increase with each trip we take, it's frustrating when our points expire.
Until recently, Delta was the only legacy carrier whose miles do not expire. In August of 2019, United changed its 18-month expiration policy, so now your United Miles never expire either. Your miles on JetBlue also do not expire. American Airlines and most other carriers who haven't jumped on the "forever miles" bandwagon have an expiration period or miles ranging from 18 to 36 months. If you notice your miles or points are near expiration, try one of the following tips:
Sign-up for a Co-Branded Airline Credit Card
One of the simplest ways to ensure your airline miles don't expire is signing up for a co-branded credit card. Many credit card companies partner with airlines to offer consumers credit cards that earn users miles for each dollar they spend. Many consumers who fly frequently or want to take advantage of airline points or miles use the credit card for monthly purchases and bills to accumulate miles. One of the advantages to co-branded cards is that each time you use them, the expiration time clock for your miles resets.
Make a Purchase Through an Airline Shopping Portal
Most airlines in the U.S. have some sort of shopping portal for you to make online purchases — think American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping. These websites typically link to major department stores, big box retailers, and a wide variety of other sellers. Simply sign into the portal with your frequent-flyer number and click on the store you want to browse. When you make a purchase, you earn bonus miles, plus you keep your account active so your miles don't expire. For an added bonus, use your airline credit card to pay for your purchases. This way you will earn points or miles on your card, too.
Redeem a Portion of Your Miles
If you are in danger of losing a large chunk of points or miles to expiration, consider spending a small portion of them to keep the remaining miles active and reset your countdown to expiration. You might want to use a small amount of miles for a domestic upgrade on a current trip or for booking an award ticket for a short weekend getaway or day trip. Even if you can't take the trip, spending a few points or miles to save a much larger amount is worth the cost.
Transfer Points From Another Program
If you are already earning points or miles with an affiliated reward program with a credit card or hotel point program, you can transfer points into your frequent-flyer account. These transfers keep your account active so you don't risk any of your miles expiring.
Join a Dining Program
Another way to keep your airline points or miles from expiring is by joining an associated dining program. Southwest and American each have their own dining club that allows you to earn miles when you visit partner restaurants, bars, and clubs. In addition to keeping your account active and resetting your expiration clock, you will often benefit by earning bonus miles for signing up for the program. Dining programs aren't a way to earn a lot of miles or points quickly, but they will buy you time so your miles don't expire.
Earn Miles With Partners
Aside from transfer partners and dining programs, frequent-flyer program have hundreds of business partners which give you the opportunity to earn miles. When you earn from a partner this keeps your account active and prevents your miles from expiring. Some examples of partners include other airlines, car rentals, hotels, cruises, and many more. Explore your frequent-flyer account and learn about the airline's partners so you can earn bonus miles for things you need to purchase.
Donate Miles to Charity
Some carriers also offer programs for you to donate your miles. In most cases, you must donate at least 500 points or miles, but some airlines have higher minimums. If you are dangerously close to expiration, the benefit of donating your miles is the speed at which you get credit. Miles donations happen immediately, which means you won't have to worry about your miles expiring. You also get to donate to a cause you care about.
Buy Some Miles
Most airlines offer frequent flyers the ability to buy miles. This isn't often the best deal, because it's sometimes cheaper to buy a ticket than to buy miles. Yet, if you don't travel that often and are pretty close to an award flight or upgrade, buying miles is a great way to get you to the level you need to be so you can use your miles without them expiring.
Take a Trip
The most fun way to keep your miles from expiring might be to buy a cheap flight for a day trip or weekend getaway and earn some more miles. Your travel will keep your account active and preserve the miles you have. This works especially well when you want to take a trip and use your points or miles but your travel dates fall within blackout dates. Instead, go ahead and book the trip and earn more miles. This gives you the opportunity to plan rewards travel which better fits into your time schedule.