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Do United Airlines miles expire? Not anymore

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Do United Airlines miles expire? Not anymore

Jason StaufferDo United Airlines miles expire? Not anymoreMillion Mile Secrets Team

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United Airlines miles used to expire 18 months after the last activity date on your account. But when United announced it was ditching it’s award chart in favor of dynamic pricing they also announced that United miles will no longer expire.

That’s good news if you like to use airline credit cards or rewards credit cards to earn United Airlines miles, because you could earn the bonus with a card like the United℠ Explorer Business Card now and use the miles anytime in the future. Of course the downside is that with dynamic prices you never know exactly what you’ll pay in the future.

United Airlines miles do not expire

United followed Delta’s lead to join the ranks of airline loyalty programs with miles that never expire. Here’s a look at airline mileage expiration policies:

  • Air Canada: 12 months without activity
  • Alaska Airlines: 24 months without activity
  • American Airlines: 18 months without activity
  • British Airways: 36 months without activity
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 36 months after earning
  • Delta Miles: Never expire
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 18 months without activity
  • JetBlue: Never expire
  • Singapore Airlines: 36 months after earning
  • Southwest Airlines: Never expire
  • Spirit Airlines: 3 months without earning
  • United Airlines: Never expire

Use United Miles for award flights

Once you’ve setup a United Airlines account you’re ready to starting collecting United Airlines miles and putting them to good use. Now that there is no longer a United Airlines award chart the price of awards will vary based on a variety of factors, but this isn’t the end of the world. We’ve already started seeing cheaper United flights than before with one-way domestic awards dipping below 5,000 miles on some routes.

If you’re ready to get serious about United miles the fastest way to earn them is by opening a United Airlines credit card:

These cards have great perks like free checked bags and free lounge passes or unlimited lounge access (with the club cards). Plus, United cardholders will have access to more available award seats. This perk alone is a good enough reason to keep one of these cards open year after year, if you don’t have United Airlines elite status (which has the same benefit).

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio with these cards:

The information for the United Club and United Club Business cards has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

United Airlines miles never expire, so you can freely earn miles and redeem the miles at anytime. You no longer have to worry about having qualifying activity every 18 months in order to keep your miles from expiring.

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United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • Limited-time offer! Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

More Info

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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If your miles have not yet expired and you want the easiest, cheapest way to reset the 18 month countdown, do this:
Assuming you do not have a United Credit Card, login to their site; select ‘MileagePlus’; select ‘use miles’, under Gift Cards select ‘MileagePlus egiftcards’; buy a $5 gift card at Marshalls/ Panera/Starbucks (or whichever of the offerings will work for you). It will cost you 781 miles which are worth at least $7.81 but it’s well worth the couple of dollars to quickly save your cache of miles from expiring.

If you have a United credit card, it’s better to just use the card for any transaction, or use it via their online shopping portal to buy a gift which will earn miles and reset your 18 months.

Yes there are lots of other options described in this article but they are not time or cost efficient if you just want to do a quick reset.

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.