Million Mile Secrets reader Pat Gardunia commented:
I have a United MileagePlus Explorer card and have 50,000 United Airlines miles accumulated. How can I get those miles off the card and transferred to a frequent flyer account so I can avoid paying the annual fee next year? I have read that if I cancel the card the points are forfeited.
Pat won’t lose his miles, even though Chase and United make it seem that way! But they will expire in 18 months unless Pat keeps them active.
You Won’t Lose Miles When You Cancel Your Credit Card
When you cancel a card, you will NOT lose airline miles that are already in his airline account.
So Pat won’t lose the United Airlines miles or points already in the United Airlines account when closing the United MileagePlus card.
So Pat can cancel the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, and will NOT lose the 50,000 United Airlines miles.
But Pat should wait until the statement closes before canceling the card.
That’s because if you cancel before your statement closes, you will lose United Airlines miles that haven’t posted to your United Airlines account.
Cards that give you bank points are different. See my post about what to do with your banks points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards) before you cancel those cards.
Keep Miles Active
But Pat could lose his United Airlines miles later IF he doesn’t keep his United Airlines account active. That’s because United Airlines miles expire after 18 months of inactivity:
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. Upon cancellation of your credit card account your miles will expire according to the MileagePlus program rules.
So Pat has to keep United Airlines account active every 18 months.
But Pat can easily keep his United Airlines miles from expiring!
Pat won’t lose his United Airlines miles in his account if he cancels his United MileagePlus card.