You worked really hard to get your miles and points in the bank. Don't let that potential vacation currency go to waste. Here are some helpful tips to keep your miles from expiring.
Know The Expiration Dates
Each frequent flyer program has slightly different rules for when their miles expire. For some international airlines, it can be up to 3 years. For most programs in the US, accounts expire after 18 months of inactivity.
This means that if you let your miles or points account sit for 18 months, and neither earn or redeem a mile, you will lose them all. And this seems to take people by surprise pretty frequently. Points Banking does require diligence with systems in place to never let your miles expire.
So the first step is to know the rules of your program, and then keep track of when the miles expire. Personally, I like to use AwardWallet to monitor accounts and expiration date. You can have the app on your phone and know how many miles you have and when they expire.
This is the obvious route.
In a loyalty program where any activity will reset the clock, making sure to include your loyalty account number when you do fly will extend the life of your account.
A simple way to earn miles, keep them from expiring, and get some shopping done is through shopping portals. A shopping portal is a way to earn miles and points toward a specific loyalty program.
There are various shopping portals out in the vast web, but E-Rewards is the simplest and has the most loyalty programs like American Airlines, United Airlines, Hilton Hotels etc..
Even if it takes buying a cutting board or a plunger to keep your miles from expiring, it's worth it.
Now, I’m not actually going to recommend you actively seek out a restaurant just to earn miles. But it makes sense to link your cards to a dining program, like Rewards Network. It’s always a nice surprise to get an email that you’ve earned miles after eating at a random cafe in a town you’ve never been to before. This free option is worth signing up for.
Move points around
For the most part, you can’t transfer points between airlines. You can also transfer points from Bank Rewards credit cards to airlines.
If you have credit card points through American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou cards, you can transfer those points to selected airline partners. Members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program can transfer points to over a dozen different airlines. That’s the benefit of a flexible and transferable points programs.
In most cases you’ll need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 points. Although Starwood Preferred Guests Platinum members can transfer as little as one point to an airline program.
Some airlines also allow you to donate a handful of miles to charity, which can be a good option in a pinch. You can also move miles between one person's account to another.
Keep in mind, some airlines charge a transfer fee this. Not the best option.
When I was in a pinch a few years ago, I bought a 1,000 miles to keep the loyalty account active. This was in my novice days when I was still learning. Although spending $15 to reset the clock seemed like a good idea at the time, there are other options that are free.
Buy some Magazine Subscriptions
This is my favorite method to keep the points alive. For as little as 400 points, you can buy a magazine subscription at Mags For Miles. This method works for a few of the major airlines.
My favorite way to use this service is to buy a random magazine on horses or cigars for a friend. Then tell them "You're Welcome" six months later.
|Air Canada (Aeroplan)||12 months/7 years|
|Alaska Airlines||24 months|
|Alitalia||24 months within current 5 year period/6 months after previous period ends|
|American Airlines||18 months|
|British Airways||36 months|
|Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)||36 months|
|Delta (Sky Miles)||No expiration|
|Flying Blue: Air France/KLM||20 months|
|Hawaiian Airlines||18 months|
|Korean Air||7 years|
|Lufthansa (Miles & More)||36 months|
|Singapore Airlines||36 months|
|United Airlines||18 months|
|US Airways||18 months|
|Virgin America||18 months|
|Virgin Atlantic||36 months|