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Do United Airlines Miles Expire? Yes, but Here Are 10 Ways to Keep That From Happening

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Do United Airlines Miles Expire?  Yes, but Here Are 10 Ways to Keep That From Happening

Meghan HunterDo United Airlines Miles Expire?  Yes, but Here Are 10 Ways to Keep That From HappeningMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Similar to other types of airline frequent flyer miles, United Airlines miles expire 18 months after the last activity date on your account.  So it’s something to be aware of if you don’t fly that often or collect a variety of points and miles currencies.

Losing hard-earned travel rewards is a terrible thing, but luckily, there are a number of ways to keep your miles from disappearing forever.

One of the easiest ways to keep your miles from expiring is by using a credit card that earns United Airlines miles, like the United Explorer Business Card.  But there are a host of other ways, too.

Here’s what you need to know about United Airlines miles expiration.

United Airlines Miles Expire, but There Are Ways to Keep Them From Going to Waste!

Do United Airlines Miles Expire?

United Airlines miles expire 18 months after zero account activity.  But redeeming or earning miles will reset their expiration date.

Here are 10 easy ways to keep your United Airlines miles from expiring.

1.   Take a Flight on United Airlines (or a Partner Airline)

Of course, taking a United Airlines flight or a will earn you miles, and extend the expiration date of the miles you already have.

You can also take a flight with one of United’s Star Alliance partner airlines, including:

  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Avianca
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SWISS
  • TAP Portugal
  • and more!

2.   Redeem Miles for a Future Flight

Did you know that booking a future flight will extend the life of your United Airlines miles for another 18 months?  That’s right!  Even if you don’t have time to take a trip before your miles are scheduled to expire, you can spend some miles to book a future award trip.

When you book an award ticket, your United miles will be debited from your account immediately, and reset the clock on your miles’ expiration date.

3.   Transfer Flexible Rewards to Your United Account

Another simple way to keep your United Airlines miles from expiring is to transfer flexible rewards to your account.  This is considered a qualifying activity and will reset the expiration date of your miles.

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Marriott points transfer to United Airlines miles, and the transfers are essentially instantaneous.  I’ve used this trick in the past by transferring 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my United account.  It’s effortless and only takes a couple of minutes of your time, which I appreciate.

Transferring Flexible Rewards to United Airlines Is Another Great Way to Keep Your Miles From Expiring, and to Get You That Much Closer to Your Next Vacation

4.   Shop Online

Like many other major airlines, United Airlines’ frequent flyer program offers an online shopping portal.  And I’d be willing to bet most of us can find something we need or want through the portal, given there are over 850 participating merchants.

If you’re doing some online shopping, you might as well be earning travel rewards at the same time!  Which will, in turn, keep your miles from expiring at the same time.

Just log-in to the United Airlines shopping portal and make your purchase through their online store.  You’ll earn a set number of miles per $1 which will reset the clock on the expiration of your miles.

5.   Credit a Hotel Stay to Your United Account

Planning an upcoming hotel stay?  You could earn United Airlines miles and renew the miles already in your account for another 18 months!

To earn miles at hotels, you must stay at one of United Airlines’s hotel partners and credit the rewards you earn to your United account.

United’s hotel partners include many popular hotel chains like:

  • Marriott
  • IHG
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hyatt
  • Wyndham
  • and more

6.   Rent a Car, Use a Shuttle Service, or Book a Train Ticket

In order to reset the expiry of your entire United Airlines frequent flyer account, you could also consider crediting a car rental to your United Airlines account.

The number of miles you’ll earn varies by rental agency.  But regardless, earning those miles will reset the expiration date of your United Airlines miles.

You can earn United Airlines miles for rentals through many of the major rental agencies, including Thrifty, Dollar, and Hertz.  And you’ll also earn miles for taking a shuttle service like GroundLink or SuperShuttle.

You can even earn United Airlines miles for booking a trip with Amtrak!  I haven’t taken a train trip in years, but if I decided to do so I’d much rather earn United Airlines miles for the trip as opposed to Amtrak Rewards.

7.   Take a Friend or Loved One for a Meal

One of the easiest ways to earn more United Airlines miles is to enroll in United’s dining program and grab a meal at a participating restaurant.  And be sure not to discredit this tip because you think it’ll require an expensive dinner.  Many of United’s dining partners offer cheap meals you can buy to easily prevent your United miles from expiring.

Grab a Beer and a Burger in Downtown Seattle at Old Stove Brewing Co. and Keep Your Miles From Expiring at the Same Time!

8.   Donate Miles to Charity

Through United’s MileagePlus Charity Miles program you can donate your miles to various charities, and do good while resetting the expiration date of your mileage balance!

United has partnered with a number of leading non-profits including the American Red Cross, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Make-A-Wish, and more.  You can find a full list of their charity partners here.

9.   Take a Cruise

Yep, you can earn United Airlines miles for taking a cruise!  Just search for and book a qualifying cruise through United Airlines’ cruise booking portal.  The number of miles you’ll earn varies depending on the trip you take, but there are offers to earn up to 100,000 bonus miles!

It’s a great option for keeping your miles active while also taking a memorable trip.

10.   Have the Right Credit Card

If you have the any of the following cards, your miles won’t expire so long as your account is open:

Using one of these cards is probably the easiest to earn United Airlines miles and keep your miles from expiring.  Some of these cards come with other great perks like a free first checked bag and free lounge passes.  Plus, United cardholders will have access to more available award seats.  This perk alone is the reason I keep my Chase United Business card open year after year!

Bottom Line

United Airlines miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, but there’s no need to worry because there are a number of ways to prevent this from happening.

All you have to do is earn or redeem miles to reset their expiry date.  Qualifying activities include taking a paid flight on United Airlines (or a partner airline), transferring flexible rewards points to United Airlines miles, or booking a hotel with a qualifying hotel partner.

One of the easiest ways to earn miles and keep them from expiring is to use a United Airlines credit card like:

Have you ever used any of these tricks for keeping your miles from expiring?  Or do you have other ideas to share?  We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I had no warning my miles were set to expire -showed balance but no expiration date so went to use to book a flight and was told they had just expired the week before! Other airlines give you notice. I tried to appeal but they said handled by 3rd party so not their problem! Won’t fly with them again.

Ah, sorry to hear that. I have a standing reminder every several months to review all my credit cards to make sure they have had at least some activity so they don’t get closed. And that includes the expiration of my miles and points as well.

I do that because I’ve made the same mistake of losing out on a few hundred dollars of rewards when they expired. I took it as a lesson learned.

I understand that by booking a flight in the future will extend the expiration date. What happens if you have to cancel the trip? Will miles be credited back and will expiration date stay extended or will it be reversed to the original expiration date?

Mileage plus X app is also a great way to earn United miles and using it stops your miles from expiring.