How To Keep your Airline Miles From Expiring Without Flying!

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Airline Miles Expiration

Readers often ask how to keep their airline miles active if they don’t fly on a particular airline.  Miles expire in most US based airline program after 18 months of no earning or redemption activity.  Award Wallet is a good tool to track your miles and points balances and expiration dates.

AirlineExpiration Policy
Alaska Airlines24 months of no earning or spending miles
American Airlines18 months of no earning or spending miles
British Airways36 months of no earning or spending miles
DeltaMiles Never Expire
Frontier Airlines18 months of no earning miles
Hawaiian Airlines 18 months of no earning or spending miles
Southwest24 months of no earning or spending miles
United18 months of no earning or spending miles
US Airways18 months of no earning or spending miles

But it is really, really easy to keep your miles active WITHOUT flying!

Sometimes, all you need to do is earn or redeem 1 mile to reset the mile expiration clock.  You can easily do this by buying a $1 iTune, making a $1 donation from the airline’s online shopping mall, downloading the airlines’ shopping toolbar and making a few searches, or using a credit card to keep your miles active!

1.   Alaska Airlines

Link:  Alaska Airlines

Expiration Policy:

1.  Keep Your Alaska Airlines Miles Active By Earning Miles

2.  Keep Your Alaska Airlines Miles Active By Redeeming Miles

2.   American Airlines

Link:  American Airlines

keep airline miles from expiring 1

Expiration Policy

1.  Keep Your American Airlines Miles Active By Earning Miles

2. Keep Your American Airlines Miles Active By Redeeming Miles

3.   British Airways

Link:  British Airways

Expiration Policy

1.   Keep Your Avios Points Active By Earning Points

2.   Keep Your Avios Points Active By Redeeming Points

  • Book an award ticket or redeem for car rentals or hotel stays
  • Book and cancel an Avios award ticket for FREE if you are a gold elite member

4.   Delta

Link:  Delta

Expiration Policy

5.   Frontier Airlines

Link:  Frontier Airlines

Expiration Policy

This means that redeeming Frontier miles doesn’t extend the life of the miles.

Keep Your Frontier Miles Active By Earning Miles

6.   Hawaiian Airlines

Link:  Hawaiian Airlines





Expiration Policy

1.   Keep Your Hawaiian Airlines Miles Active

7.   Southwest Airlines

Link:  Southwest Airlines

Expiration Policy

1.   Keep Your Southwest Points Active By Earning Points

8.   United Airlines

Link:  United Airlines

Expiration Policy

1.   Keep Your United Miles Active By Earning Miles

2.   Keep Your United Miles Active By Redeeming Miles:

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106 responses to “How To Keep your Airline Miles From Expiring Without Flying!

  1. Please advise extending Airtran, wondering if anyone knows any tricks other than swapping them out for Southwest credits.

  2. Excellent summary. Will do be doing one on hotels points?

  3. How about CX Asia miles? I have not been able to find a viable way (without flying) to keep them alive.

  4. Will you do one of these charts for hotels as well please

    • @Dluke – You can pay $29 to extend the credits, but it may not be worth it depending on the credits you have.

      @Achilles – You can pay to renew the miles, but it isn’t worth it. Probably best to just redeem the miles for something before they expire.

      @Dave Op @Hunter – I’ll post on hotel points next week.

  5. @ Dluke – Keep in mind, Airtran is currently in the process of merging with Southwest. I’m not saying it’s impossible to extend the life of your credits, but it may be more difficult considering Southwest is slowly taking over the routes.

  6. D- Is it still true that United miles don’t expire for Mileage Plus credit card holders or did this change?

  7. What about Jet blue? Can you make a $1 itunes purchase as well?

  8. Are US Airway miles transferrable? like to hotels?

  9. this is extremely helpful..I’ll look forward to the hotel summary

  10. This post would have been helpful about a year and a half ago! I had some United miles (no idea how I accumulated them, but I had a couple thousand) that were about to expire. This was before I really got into the miles/points game, so all I could think of was to subscribe to magazines with the balance. They didn’t make it clear that you only needed to redeem a few of them to keep them from expiring, so I went on a magazine ordering spree.

    We got nearly a dozen monthly magazines for an entire year, and the Wall Street Journal (daily). It was hard keeping up with all of that reading (and disposal of the paper). Even worse – when the magazines stopped coming, we were glad that we were almost free – but then the WSJ kept coming! We just wanted it to end, but it took about 3 months before they finally stopped sending us a daily copy!

  11. Keep Your US Air Miles Active by Earning Miles:

    Think u may be wrong , if not please explain how you can “transfer “to your United account? from us airways

    Fly on a paid US Airways flight or a Star Alliance or partner flight and credit the miles to US Air
    Pay $9 to extend expiration of your miles for another 18 months
    Download the US Air eShopping toolbar and earn miles for internet searches
    Enroll in the US Air dining program and dine at a partner restaurant
    Rent a car or stay at a partner hotel and credit the miles to US Air
    Use the US Airways Mastercard
    Purchase or share Dividend Miles through a 100% bonus period or any other time.
    Transfer hotel points from Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Starwood, Wyndham & Choice hotels to your United account

  12. Very helpful summary post, thanks!

  13. ” Pay $9 to extend expiration of your miles for another 18 months”

    Instead of feeding them $9, extend for $0 by answering questions:

    If you need help, read

  14. My husband lost his Choice Hotel points at 12/31. By the time he told me the points were already gone. They emailed him a few days in advance, but he was busy.

  15. I don’t think iTunes will work with JetBlue. They get great customer service ratings but their award program is one of the most unfriendly in the industry. I emailed them recently about my miles with them expiring next month and they had just awarded me miles for taking a survey for them a week prior and they responded:

    There are only three activities which extend the expiration date of points: completing a JetBlue revenue flight, a JetBlue Getaways Package, or by earning points from a qualifying purchase made with the JetBlue Card from American Express. Promotional, purchased or bonus points do not extend the expiration date.

  16. If one is signed up to multiple dining programs thru different airlines, and i dine at a place that is excepted by a bunch of airlines, do i get credit for all of them?

    Thanks in advance.

  17. For programs that I do not have a credit card open, I purchase one iTunes song (make sure it’s $1+) and cycle through one program each month, ensuring my miles never expire.

  18. Any idea how to extend Aeroplan miles?


  19. Yep. Excellent summary. Thank you.

  20. If family members have linked their Avios accounts with a Household account, if the main person has account activity within the expiration period, will that extend all members of the Household account or must each have activity?

    • @corinne – They market it that way, but it isn’t exactly true because the terms say “Your miles will not expire as long as there is activity on your credit card account, including paying your annual membership fee, and the credit card account is open and not in default.” If you have NO activity on the card, but pay the fee, your miles won’t expire. But if you use the card you’ll earn United miles and will extend the expiry by another 18 months.

      @Happy Feet – I don’t believe so.

      @[email protected] – I used to get magazines from the US Grand Slam and promptly left them in the common area at work as soon as they arrived!

      @STAN – Thanks! It is a typo – it should be US Air.

      @world-traveler – Thanks! I do mention the trivia option in the list and performing a search will also extend the expiration of the miles for free.

      @Lively – Choice is different in that you can’t extend their miles beyond expiration. Use them or lose them.

      @Melinda – If you sign up the same credit card with 2 different airline dining programs, you will only get credit from the last airline dining program you signed up for.

      @yngp – You could transfer Membership Rewards points, or use their shopping portal etc.

      @KarenL – The BA website says “Just like with an individual account, your Household Account Avios stay with you as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share some Avios at least once every 36 months.”

      However this link on FlyerTalk suggests differently. I’d be safe and assume the points expire after 36 months of inactivity in anyone’s account.

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  22. Tremendous post to be bookmarked!

  23. No expiration policy for Delta?
    (Maybe it’s to compensate for how many miles you to need to redeem an award flight…)

  24. Any idea if I can transfer miles out of Alaska Airlines? I was hoping I could use my Alaska stash like I did with my Hawaiian stash and transfer to Hilton. Thanks, D.

  25. A note to ACHILLES,
    CX Asia Miles expire after 3 years whether you have or do not
    have any activity.
    For example miles earned on JAN. 5,2010 will expire today and
    miles earned since than will expire on their 3rd year anniversary.

  26. I didn’t see any mention of JetBlue’s policy in your post. I wrote about it in December.
    Check out my post:

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  28. I ordered through the aa portal on dec 29 but no activity shows up in. My account. My miles spire in two days. How lomg does it usually take for an miles to post?


  29. Hawaiian Airlines, incase anyone is wondering, is every 18 months.

    • @Michael W. Travels @Jim – Thanks! I’ll add those to the list.

      @Donna c – It takes longer than 2 days for the miles to post from the shopping portal, but it *may* be backdated to the transaction date, but your miles may vary.

  30. It seems that both AA and UA discontinued their shopping toolbar. And the links above for the toolbars don’t work anymore.

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  33. @yngp if you leave in Canada you can fill up at esso, buy at Sobyes (east) , buy at Rexal (east), deposit a pin from a nestle product, use any of aeroplan credit cards

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  35. Hi Darius,

    You did not cover Emirates Skywards miles in your post above. may be because it is not a US based airline. But, do you have any suggestions on how can I save my miles from expiring on Emirates Skywards. Alaska is a partner but do they allow using an Emirates skywards number? please suggest if you have any ideas.

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  37. how do I prevent my Emirates miles from expiring without flying

  38. Oh! you mean even if I buy something say for a buck on their ” Emirates high wall street” still the remaining miles will expire? There is no way around?



  40. Victoria Hamilton

    Dear Million Miles Secrets,

    This is a great site. I need 10,000 Emirates miles. I was reading that one of your readers’ miles is about to expire before she can use them. I will buy them from her – if she has enough & is willing to sell. How can we arrange this?

    Thank you

  41. Can you track point expiration dates on I see you can track balances, but I’m more concerned about a dashboard showing expirations. Thanks!

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  43. Does anyone know how to transfer points (without incurring fees) from an AA account from my boyfriend to myself? Or, am I allowed to give my AA account number when he signs up for a new credit card?

    • @Andrea – You can’t transfer miles without being charged a fee and you shouldn’t have your boyfriend put your number in the application. But he can book award tickets for anyone using the miles in his account, so there’s no real need to transfer.

  44. Thanks for clarifying that, Darius!

  45. For BA, if I have one above mentioned activity at the end of the 36th month, how will my avois points extend? another 36 month or ??


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  48. My miles will expire tomorrow.
    I’ve just bought one iTunes song and it’ll take 2-3 weeks to show up in my AA shopping account…
    Will my miles expire?

  49. You are the best. I’ve been stressing for several days how to keep my AA points since I haven’t flown with them in awhile. You make it seem so simple that I feel like I’ve been a fool for days. Thank you thank you thank you and keep it up.

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  51. Very confusing. How to use AA miles and BA Avios to buy cruises. Also, if not enough AA miles or Avios are available for the total fare, can they be used for partial fare payment?

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  53. This is great info, D. Thank you. Do you have any suggestions for easy ways to keep kids’ accounts active? My son has an AAdvantage account I’d like to keep active. We’re flying on an AA flight with Avios, but I don’t think that will count as “account activity” which will prevent his miles from expiring.

  54. Heads up: the AA shopping toolbar no longer exists.

  55. I have an E-ticket expiring very soon, already 11 months from issue. I forgot I had it. Can I buy a refundable ticket now and then cancel and then have an extension on the ticket without loosing the value of my eticket minus the fee to change?


  56. Dear Darius,
    We flew using HNA (Hainan airline). Can we credit those flight to any Us partners, to keep our US miles from expiring?

  57. Hainan airlines: can i credit the miles flown to any US airline?

  58. I don’t think the $1 iTunes song works on American any longer I did not find it on the AA eshopping portal. Or does anyone have an idea of where to find it? Only $15 gift cards with $4 shipping

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  60. UAL has made a change in my mileage plus reservation. Do I have to accept the changes or can I cancel my trip and have the mileage deposited back into my account?

  61. Do you know if I can refresh the expiration date of my ANA miles by transferring some from my Sapphire card?


  62. Can I check on the southwest website when my points are going to expire?

  63. When I view “rewards activity details” is only shows the previous year activities; not 24 months ago. Is there a place to find when the real last earning was? Does SW send expiration warning notice

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  65. I just realized that my Southwest account was closed in January as I had no paid flights in the last 24 months. I did book an awards trip 12 months ago but my 29K points are now gone and 2 agents confirmed that there is no way to get them back. I was told by SW that booking award travel does not constitute qualifying activity per their T’s & C’s ( . Supposedly they send out an email warning of expiration but I cannot find it nor can the call center agent reproduce it for me.

    You mention above that

    Keep Your Southwest Points Active By Redeeming Miles
    Book an award ticket
    Book and cancel a Southwest award ticket which is free for all members

    This is not true according to SW as of 3/14/14. You have to buy a ticket or buy points or buy flowers or some other nonsense.

    Please let me know if you have heard of SW reinstating points and if you have any ideas on how I can get these back.

    Thanks in advance for your time.

    • @mmt – There is no way to check on the Southwest website.

      @GB – Sorry to hear about that. I’ll update the post since Southwest now specifies that only earning points counts towards extending the expiration of your account.

  66. Hi Darius,

    My United miles expire on 31st May this year. Can I buy a one dollar song on itunes and get away with losing all my miles in that deadlines period? Thanks!

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  76. My wife and I both have BA Avios miles, and we have a Household account. I would like to transfer some of my BA Avios miles to my Iberia Avios account. When I transfer my BA Avios miles, does BA pull miles based on the Household account, or just my account?

  77. How to extend Emirates miles from expiring ?

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  79. Hi Daraius…. This is a great resource, one worth updating from time to time. By chance, I thought to check my Frontier Airlines stash — and was startled to see in the fine print that they’ve changed expiration terms, now dropping them to a nasty mere six months:

    “As of March 7, 2015, mileage in a member’s account does not expire as long as the Member generates accrual activity every six months. The good news is, your miles need never expire. Just continue to earn miles every six month by flying with us or earning miles with every purchase using the Frontier Airlines MasterCard®. Unredeemed mileage accumulated in your account will expire at the end of the six-month period after your last activity date.”

    They’ve also changed credit card benefits & such — another story. Had been hanging on the Frontier miles for travel to the small airports near national airports (like Jackson Hole, and in Alaska) — niche places Frontier flies in the summer. Thinking I best use ’em this year before they become as worthless as Delta’s skypesos.

  80. Hello – Frontier rewards only good for 6 months after no activity. I cancelled my Frontier CC and I called the Frontier Rewards program to double check the expiration date with no activity. I was told rewards expire 6 months after no activity.


  81. Derek is correct. It was changed because it used to be 18 mos! The website confirms it. “As of March 7, 2015, mileage in a member’s account does not expire as long as the Member generates accrual activity every six months.”

  82. can i still activate expired reward miles after 2 years ? is the $ 50 option still available ? my reward expired some time in 2015

  83. you mention for southwest you can transfer points from Wyndham but they no longer have a relationship unless I am wrong?

  84. Hello, this is an older post. I was just wondering if all of these criteria still apply from 3.5 years ago. Specifically relating to United. Does anyone know? Mr. Million Mile Secrets?