How to Stop your Airline Miles from Expiring

You’ve worked really hard to earn all the miles in your account. You’ve got thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of miles building up in your account. You think all is fine and then you check your email inbox one day. “Your points are expiring, act fast!” Of course the airline will try and convince you to spend them as quickly as possible, but we’ll give you some useful tips to make sure that they don’t expire and you can keep earning and save up for those big rewards.

Why do points expire?

The majority of airlines, hotels, and other reward programs put an expiration date on their points. If you’re accumulating points in an account and don’t have any activity, they’ll just zero out your account and void out your miles. Imagine if a bank did that. You open up a savings account, put $10,000 in there, and after a year of not doing anything they say “oh we didn’t think you were going to use that so we just deleted your money…” You’d be furious right?

Unlike your money, points are property of the airline or hotel and they can add, subtract, devalue, or expire them according to their very byzantine terms and conditions. Let’s be honest, you never bothered to read those, did you? No one does, and they count on that.

Iberia Terms and Conditions

Once a year…

The general rule for most programs is a “once a (time period)” activity rule. That means that as long as you have some movement in the account, either earning or redeeming, you’ll not lose your points. Some airlines like Delta have a policy where your miles never expire. Being that it takes hundreds of thousands of points to actually redeem your Delta miles for a flight on their planes, that’s a nice gesture.

Here’s a handy chart to reference if you want to know when your airline miles are about to expire:

Alaska 24 months
American 18 months
British 36 months
Delta N/A
Hawaiian 18 months
Southwest 24 months
United 18 months

Easy ways to earn miles

Flying is, of course, the easiest way to earn miles in a program. With that said, sometimes the stars don’t align and you simply can’t get on a plane. Never fear, there are still dozens of ways to earn miles without setting foot in an airport.

Dining Programs

Do you have your credit or debit card linked to earn miles when you go dining? All the airlines have a dining program where you can earn miles by eating out at restaurants all over the country. Just sign in, link your card, and go eat! The miles will typically post a week or two after you eat.

Aadvantage Dining

Credit Cards

If you’ve got your airline’s credit card, then earning is a cinch. Just spend $1 on their card and the miles will post to your account. Expiration averted!


You can often earn airline miles by booking a hotel room through RocketMiles. This works especially well if you don’t need the hotel points and would rather save up for that long flight.

Transfer from a Credit Card

You can transfer Delta, United, Southwest, and more from your credit card. United, British and Southwest from Chase and Delta (and others) from American Express. Those points transfers are almost instant, and for as little as 1,000 miles you’re done.

Transfer Points

Transfer from Marriott

Marriott has over 45 airline partners. The best deal is transfering 60,000 Marriott points. They transfer at 3:1 so that’s 20k miles. They’ll give you an extra 15,000 miles for a total of 25,000 airline miles. 

Shop Online

Every airline has a shopping portal. If you haven’t been doing this yet, you’ve been missing out on thousands of miles. Just search online for “(Your Airline) Shopping Portal” and sign in. Come here before you do your online shopping, click the link, and voila! Shop as normal, earn miles, rejoice

Purchase Points

As a last resort, if you really need to, you can buy miles directly from the airlines. They start at about $50 per 1,000 miles. But seriously, with all the other options that we’ve talked about, why are you buying them from the airline?

United Buy Miles Promotion

There you have it. No more excuses to lost any miles… especially with the tons of ways that exist to not lose your miles. What’s your favorite way to earn?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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