Extending the Life of Your Frequent Flyer Miles

By: Jeremy Panizzoli · March 24, 2017

Categories: Credit Card Tips, Credit Guide

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Extend Life of Airline / Frequent Flyer MilesWhen it comes to credit card reward programs, the value of frequent flyer miles is hard to beat. And with the cost of airfare on the rise, airline mile credit cards are even more desirable. For many people, earning free airfare for doing something they do already is a no-brainer; but for people who don’t use their credit cards often, they may be forced to use (or lose) their miles when the redemption deadline approaches. Here are some tips to avoid losing benefits and options to extend the life of your airline miles.

Understand Redemption Rules & Deadlines

With many frequent flyer programs, you need to use your miles before the redemption deadline (normally between 12 and 36 months). But there may be ways to extend the life of your miles, alternative redemption options – or ways avoid deadlines altogether. Start by reading the terms and conditions of your account for specific details about your reward program. In some cases, you may not have a redemption deadline at all. For example, miles never expire with the Capital One® VentureOneSM Rewards Credit Card.

Although most frequent flyer programs don’t provide this perk, most do offer ways to save, share, earn, transfer and extend the life of your reward miles. In fact, most only require you to make a single purchase over the expiration period (anywhere from 12 to 36 months, depending on the card) to extend the life of your miles.

Examples of Ways to Maintain Your Miles:

Here are just a few examples of how frequent flyer programs provide flexible ways to use and preserve your benefits.

AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card

  • Use your AAdvantage® credit card for any purchase and your miles will be extended for 18 months.
  • Purchase an item through the AAdvantage® Shopping Portal.
  • Visit any participating AAdvantage® partner restaurant or hotel.
  • AAdvantage® members can transfer miles between accounts. Share your miles or ask a friend or family member to share miles with you to keep your account active.
  • Donate miles to charity. 1,000 mile minimum.
  • Exchange other airline miles into AAdvantage® miles through Points.com.
  • If you’re miles have already expired, there are few ways to get your miles back, including paying to reactivate your miles or completing a challenge.

United MileagePlus® Explorer card

  • Use your MileagePlus® credit card for any purchase and your miles will be extended for 18 months.
  • Purchase an item through the United Shopping Portal.
  • Stay at any participating MileagePlus® partner hotel.
  • Sign up for the MileagePlus® Dining program
  • Rent a car through one of United’s partners
  • Transfer hotel points from Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Starwood, Wyndham or Choice Hotels to your United MileagePlus® account.
  • Exchange other airline miles into United miles through Points.com.

Shop to Extend Your Airline Miles

Most frequent flyer mile programs offer shopping opportunities to earn more miles and to keep your account active. If you have no way to use or transfer your miles, it may be worth shopping at the airline’s online mall to earn additional miles and show activity on your frequent flyer mile account. In most cases, any credit card purchase resets the counter and will extend the life of your airline miles.

To take full advantage of the benefits, it’s important to understand the details of your frequent flyer account. Even if your miles have expired, it may be possible to get them back for a fee. Program terms vary and can change without notice, so be sure to contact a customer service agent if you have questions about your airline mile program.

* See a complete list of our best airline reward credit cards→

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