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How to keep miles from expiring

You don’t need to fly to keep your mileage account current, you just need to exhibit some activity, some sign of life. Each of the ways (purchasing or transferring miles works too) listed in this post counts as activity and can reset your mileage clock for however long a particular program sets it. With each promotion adding bonus miles to your account, the lifespan on your account is extended. The same goes for purchases, no matter how small.

For instance, since apple.com partners with travel programs such as American Airlines, Amtrak, Choice Privileges, Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Southwest, US Airways and United Airlines, buying a single song off iTunes can reset the clock on any of those accounts. Plus you earn an extra point or mile for buying through the associated shopping portal. You MUST make the purchase through the portal.

Even if you live in a cave and have never heard of iTunes, surely you could find something worthy of purchasing from the myriad of retailers that partner with AAdvantage eShopping, MileagePlus shopping, etc. For example, Groupon (leave your cave and take a cheap salsa dancing class or streamline those neanderthal whiskers with some discount laser hair removal while earning 8 AA miles per dollar) or drugstore.com (I love how I get cash back on purchases and avoid having to drag myself to one of Philly’s remarkably depressing chain drugstores. I also just spent $12.15 in cash back on motion sickness remedies. It was mildly thrilling.).

The same logic applies to using a credit card associated with a specific airline or program – your mileage clock would reset every month, as miles from purchases are posted to your mileage account.

However, while jumping on various promotions is a good way to keep your mileage account healthy and active, if your miles are close to expiring, miles from purchases (or dining through an airline dining program) post to accounts a lot faster. Miles from promotions can take 6-8 weeks to post. The 1500 bonus miles I received from a first Gilt Groupe purchase I made on Dec. 1 have JUST posted to my Continental account.

American Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines and Hawaiian Miles have clocks that are set for 18 months. Your miles do not expire so long as you exhibit some activity in an 18-month period.

You can also worry less about your miles expiring if you use AwardWallet.com, as it tracks the expiration date for each program you put on there.

This all applies only to redeemable miles, as elite qualifying miles usually reset at the beginning of each year. Explanation of United Airlines’ new and old mileage programs here.

To reinstate expired miles is not impossible, but plan ahead and you won’t be caught in such a situation.

Keep your miles from expiring so that this does not happen to you. This is only funny if you know Cantonese.

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