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Prevent Your Frequent Flyer Miles From Expiring

Published 10/10/07 (Modified 2/28/13)
By MoneyBlueBook

I used to fly a lot and racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles over the years, but now I have to be extra careful. Airline travelers who don't use their frequent flyer miles...well, frequently, may soon discover that their miles have expired. It is a growing trend, but airlines have shortened the time period that an account can remain inactive before miles expire. In most cases that time period ranges between 1 to 2 years.

Here Are the Expiration Policies For Some of the Biggest Airlines:

  1. AirTran: Points in A+ Rewards expire after 12 months.
  2. American Airlines: AAdvantage miles expire after 36 months of inactivity.
  3. Delta Airlines: Delta SkyMiles expire after 2 years of inactivity.
  4. JetBlue: TrueBlue points expire one full year from the date that they are earned.
  5. Northwest Airlines: Northwest WorldPerks miles expire if none are earned for 3 calendar years.
  6. Southwest Airlines: Rapid Rewards points expire after 2 years.
  7. United Airlines: Mileage Plus miles expire after 36 months of inactivity. Starting December 31, 2007, miles will expire after 18 months of inactivity.
  8. U.S. Airways: Dividend Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity.

How You Can Easily Prevent Mileage Expiration

The way to prevent your miles from lapsing due to inactivity is to simply generate miles-earning activity for each airline that you have an account with. Other using than using a specialized miles-generating credit card rewards like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, another relatively easy way is by making a purchase at the airline's own shopping portal, where you earn miles for each purchase. This will allow you to earn a few miles, enough to reset the inactivity clock. Most of the popular stores such as iTunes, Best Buy, and Circuit City can be found at each airline's shopping website.

Links to the Major Airlines' Shopping Websites:

Make Sure Your Purchases Count To Reset the Account Activity Clock

  1. To ensure that you receive mileage credit for the purchase made through the airline's shopping portal, make sure your shopping cart is empty before doing the click through. For example, don't visit Best Buy, add something to your cart and then revisit Best Buy by clicking through the airline's shopping portal website. You may not receive mileage credit for the items already in your cart. Visit the store through the airline's website first before making purchases to receive proper mileage credit.
  2. There is no minimum mileage you need to earn to reset the inactivity clock. If you can make a quick purchase for a $1 item that allows you to accrue a few miles towards your frequent flyer plan, that is sufficient to reset and prevent expiration.
  3. One way to track your miles and monitor your most recent activity in each of your frequent flyer accounts is by using USA Today's downloadable MileTracker application.

Credit Card Offers With Great Miles and Rewards Benefits:

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