When do American Airlines miles expire (and how to avoid it)

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Ever logged in to your frequent flyer account only to realize that some (or all!) of your miles have expired? Even if you’ve never had this experience, believe me, you don’t want to.

So when do American Airlines miles expire? The short answer is after 18 months of inactivity. You worked hard collecting those miles — to see them expire would be a shame. We’ve compiled a list of ways to prevent your American Airlines miles from expiring. It can be as simple as swiping an American Airlines credit card for a stick of gum!

Keep your miles from expiring by dining at a qualifying restaurant. (Photo by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

American Airlines pauses mileage expiration until June 30, 2021

In the age of coronavirus, American Airlines knows you’re probably not utilizing your miles with the same frequency as you normally would.

AA has made a customer-friendly adjustment to their miles expiration policies. No American Airlines miles will expire until June 30, 2021 – so if you’re unsure as to when your miles will expire, know you have at least until the end of June 2021 to execute some kind of activity in your account.

Below are the best ways to stop American Airlines miles from expiring.

How to prevent your AAdvantage miles from expiring

Earn miles from any purchase

Using an American Airlines credit card is an excellent way to earn miles for everyday purchases. With the right card, any purchase you make extends the life of your miles. Plus, you can often earn bonus miles for purchases in special categories.

To make this proposition even sweeter, American Airlines credit cards come with the following welcome bonuses, so you can stockpile quickly for an upcoming vacation. For example:

This is probably the best way to earn American Airlines miles. Plus, some of these cards come with great perks like a free first checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation (domestic flights only) and preferred boarding for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation.

And if you’re uncomfortable traveling right now, this is a great way to keep your AA miles from expiring by simply shopping as you normally would.

Online Shopping

Almost all airline frequent flyer programs offer an online shopping portal. If you’re doing some online shopping, you might as well be earning extra travel rewards while you’re at it — and keeping your miles from expiring at the same time.

Just log into the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal, find your desired online merchant and click through to their online store. You’ll earn a set number of miles per dollar and reset the clock on the expiration of your miles. This is also a simple way to keep your miles from expiring from home.

Make sure to use a shopping portal to earn miles for your online purchases! (Photo by Kite_rin/Shutterstock)

Grab some grub

Everyone has time to eat. One of the easiest ways to earn more American Airlines miles is to enroll in the American Airlines dining program and eat at a participating restaurant. There are over 10,000 dining partners so you can probably find a restaurant near you.

Many of these dining partners have meals for under $10, so you could grab a quick (cheap) meal and prevent your American Airlines miles from expiring at the same time.

Donate to charity

American Airlines has a partnership with Stand Up to Cancer through which you can earn bonus American Airlines miles for donating. You’ll earn 10x American Airlines miles per dollar on donations of $25+. This is a wonderful way to do good and extend the expiration date of your points balance.

Spend miles for a future flight

Even if you’re too busy to book a trip before your miles are scheduled to expire, you can spend miles to book a future award trip. The goal is to spend some miles before they expire in order to reset the clock on the expiration date for all your AA miles.

When you book an award ticket, the miles will be debited right away from your American Airlines miles account, even if the flight is a year away. And the life of your American Airlines miles will be extended for an additional 18 months.

Take a flight on American Airlines (or a partner airline)

You can also take a flight with an American Airlines partner airline, like those in the Oneworld program, including:

  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • and more

Just remember to credit the miles you earn to your American Airlines frequent flyer account and make sure the miles will be deposited into your account before your other miles are set to expire.

Convert hotel points to American Airlines miles

If you have a stash of hotel points you don’t have a plan for, you might be able to convert those points to American Airlines miles.

Not only can this be a good option for topping off your account for an award flight but it also extends the expiration date of your American Airlines miles for another 18 months.

This can be especially helpful if you have points with a hotel that are also expiring soon.

For example, Hyatt is an American Airlines hotel partner and Hyatt points expire after 24 months of inactivity. So by transferring some points from Hyatt to American Airlines, you can extend the life of both your American Airlines miles and your Hyatt points.

You can convert hotel points to American Airlines miles from programs like Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG. The minimum number of points you can convert and the number of miles you’ll earn varies by hotel chain, so always do the math to make sure the deal makes sense for you.

Stay at a hotel

You might not be planning any flights, but if you can get away to a hotel for even one night, you could earn American Airlines miles — and extend the expiration date of your miles another 18 months.

To earn miles for your stay you must stay at one of American Airlines’ hotel partners and credit the rewards you earn to your American Airlines account.

American Airlines hotel partners include most popular hotel chains like Marriott and IHG. But you can also use RocketMiles to find and book hotel rooms, which earns you up to 10,000 American Airlines miles per night!

Not an advisable route if you’re still apprehensive about traveling.

Rent a car or use a shuttle service

If you’re planning to rent a car, consider crediting your rental to your American Airlines account. The number of miles you’ll earn depends on your elite status, but earning those miles will reset the expiration of your entire American Airlines frequent flyer account.

You can earn American Airlines miles for rentals through most of the major agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, etc. You’ll also earn miles for taking a shuttle service like SuperShuttle.

Take a cruise

You can earn American Airlines miles for taking a cruise. Just search for a qualifying cruise through the American Airlines cruise portal to earn 1 mile per dollar spent (up to 10,000 American Airlines miles).

Not only does this keep your miles from expiring, but it could be a great way to get additional perks for booking a cruise. Special offers available through the portal include ones that have no gratuities, free onboard ship credits and bonus miles. These offers rotate, so check often.

In the climate of coronavirus, the cruise industry is largely shut down. It’ll be at least May 2021 before we see cruises resume operations. Therefore, this isn’t an ideal way to keep your AA miles alive.

Bottom line

Do American Airlines miles expire? Yeah, after 18 months of inactivity — but there is no reason for this to happen.

All you have to do is earn or redeem miles to reset the clock. Qualifying activities include taking a paid flight on American Airlines (or a partner airline), converting hotel points to American Airlines miles, booking a hotel with a qualifying hotel partner and more.

Of course, the easiest way to earn miles and keep them from expiring is to use an American Airlines credit card, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.

Have you used any of these methods to prevent your American Airlines miles from expiring? If so, tell us about it in the comments below. And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points know-how delivered to your inbox once per day!

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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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