How to Prevent Miles from Expiring

How to keep your miles active

When I hear about people who had lots of miles and then they expired, my heart sinks. Two good friends recently told me about their respective expired miles, and my heart plummeted to the depths of fleeting misery and I lost a small piece of my soul.

People letting their miles expire would not be so sad if it wasn’t so easy to prevent miles from expiring. IT IS RIDICULOUSLY EASY. And considering that each 10,000 United/American/Southwest miles are worth at least $150 (using conservative estimates), you should be willing to put in a few minutes’ work to prevent your miles from expiring!

There are literally hundreds of ways, many of them free and effortless, to prevent miles and points from expiring. In a nutshell, the basic policy for most airlines looks something like this:

“Miles expire after X months of no account activity (or earning)” 

Luckily, there are tons of ways to earn and redeem miles that will reset that expiration clock. I prevented my US Airways miles from expiring by getting a 1-year subscription to Outside Magazine for 800 miles! It would be redundant for me to list all of these tricks here since other bloggers have put lots of effort into this already, so here are some of the most helpful posts:

Daraius’ detailed explanation of each airline’s particular policy and best ways to beat their systems.

The Points Guy’s less detailed (but still helpful) recap

Airfare Watchdog’s “Top 10” ways to prevent miles expiration


Keeping track of your miles

I use to keep track of all of my miles and points. You enter your frequent flyer numbers and passwords, and it shows you all of your balances and expiration dates on a one-screen dashboard. A truly awesome and essential tool for anyone juggling multiple airline and hotel rewards accounts. It supports every frequent flyer, hotel and bank rewards program, storing your login info and allowing easy 1-click login to all program websites. However, with Southwest and United you have to manually refresh your point balances, but those two are the only exceptions so they are not too hard to remember.

Lastly, friends don’t let friends’ miles expire. Help a brother out and spread the word about how easy it is to keep them active.


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