Knowing how to keep your airline points and miles from expiring doesn’t have to difficult or expensive. And yes, frequent flier miles, do expire. Business travelers and those who fly frequently don’t have to worry about this too much. However, the occasional traveler might find themselves upset to find that all the miles earned during their past travels are no longer available for use. Well, if you happen to fall into the occasional traveler category, not to worry. There are still some ways to keep and add more miles to your account. With very little investment, you can learn how to keep your miles from expiring.
When Will Your Miles Expire
The first thing that you will want to find out is when exactly your miles or are going to expire. This is a straight forward question but the answer varies greatly. Different programs have different time constraints depending on the type of account and who your miles are associated with. After anywhere from 24 to 36 months with no account activity, all your miles accrued from years of traveling will expire. If you don’t know for sure, check with your program’s policies or call the customer service line.
Once you have that information, you will be able to plan wisely and avoid having your account miles zeroed out. Now if your frequent flyer program is with Delta and their Sky Miles, or JetBlue and their TrueBlue Program, you have nothing to worry about. Both Delta and JetBlue have programs that offer frequent flier miles that do not expire once earned. So if you happen to have them, you lucked out. If on the other hand, you are in the market, then those are two frequent flier programs worth looking in to.
Ways To Keep Your Miles Alive
1. Take A Trip
One of the easiest ways to keep those miles going, is by booking a flight. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or crazy expensive. It could be a simple as a weekend trip. You might even consider taking a train somewhere and then getting a one-way ticket back. Booking a flight, no matter how inexpensive, adds miles and will help extend your miles expiration date on your account.
2. Use a Tracking App
In today’s modern digital era there are mobile apps for just about everything, including keeping track of your reward programs. You can use a mobile application to keep track of your miles, points and even when everything expires as well. There are numerous mobile apps on the market. One such popular mobile tracking app is called Award Wallet, that has the ability to manage airlines miles as well as hotel and credit card points.
3. Donating Your Miles
Another super easy and great way to save your miles from expiring is by donating miles to a charity. From cancer research and animal rescue societies to providing youth education and services for veterans, you can donate to a number of different organizations. Each airline offers different groups of charities, so be sure to check what charity options are available through your program. Also, don’t be surprised if you find there to be a minimum number of miles to be able to donate.
Another thing to keep in mind about mile donations is that it is not tax-deductible. Award points and miles are viewed as a gift from a business or to an individual. So make sure to talk to a tax professional if you plan on making a large donation.
4. Airline Credit Cards
Another fairly easy method to ensure the longevity of your hard-earned miles is by having an airline credit card. A lot of travel card carriers, but not all, waive the expiration of your accrued points or miles as long as you have an active account. Having one of these cards makes it really easy to extend your miles expiration date. Every time you swipe your card to buy something you are adding miles or points. Any kind of account activity, like adding points, resets your expiration date.
5. Redeeming Some Miles
As mentioned before, any activity usually rests your expiration date. By spending a small number of miles or points on award tickets and other redemptions, you extend the time you have before your miles or points expire. After all, you earned those miles so you should definitely enjoy them.
6. Credit Card Points Transfer
A large portion of credit cards that offer rewards programs are considered an airline transfer partner and have the ability to transfer points from one account to another. This also applies to hotel credit cards as well. So if you have one of these associated credit cards, they may be able to transfer points to help keep miles active a while longer.
7. Shopping Portals
Earning points or miles can be as simple as buying your normal everyday items online. A lot of the major hotels and airlines have shopping portals that are linked right off of their websites. These portals are designed to help make earning more points or miles easier for you. When you log on to one of these portals, you will find links to popular stores like Macy’s, Target, Amazon, and lots more. By doing your shopping through the shopping portal, you will be able to earn miles for every dollar that you spend.
8. Buying More Miles
A pretty straight forward option you may want to consider to just buy miles. Now the idea of having to shell out hard earned cash for something that is going to convert to a lesser value may not appeal to everyone. However, it is certainly a viable solution to keeping your miles alive. After all, account activity is the name of the game. This is also a rather quick method too. The rates to buy additional miles varies airline to airline. Typically, you can expect to pay about $30 for every 1,000 miles. So if you have a rather large amount of miles or points that you do not want to end up losing, it may be worth spending a couple bucks to save them.
9. Dining Networks
There are several major hotels and U.S. airlines that have partnered up with a company known as Reward Network or offer their own variation of a dining program. These dining programs can be linked to any credit card and you’re awarded airline miles or hotel points when you make a purchase using that card. There are well over 10,000 participating restaurants. Something to be aware of is sometimes it can take a little while before the points post to your account. Also, you cannot double-dip with the same card at multiple programs. So you can only use one card per airline dining program.
As you can see, even though your miles or points have an expiration date, there is a multitude of ways to reset the expiration to a later date in the future. The first thing to do if you already are enrolled in a credit card or airline miles program, is to find out when your miles plan on expiring. If you are not enrolled into miles program yet, be sure to do some research into the going rate to purchase additional miles and how and when is the expiration reset.
Once you know about your mileage program, you can make better decisions on when and how to spend your miles. It is also better to think of your miles and points as petty cash than as an investment. Miles and points that are held for a long-extended period tend to lose their value. A lot of times frequent-flier programs change their award charts and raise the levels at which you need to redeem miles for flights, so it’s best to use them to supplement your travel budget.
With a little planning, forward thinking, and following some of these tips, you’ll be able to keep your points active for the years to come. You have fun earning them, just remember to have fun spending them.