Keeping your airline miles active is pretty simple! For most programs you have NO REASON to ever let your miles expire!! The great thing is that many times you are able to keep your miles active without even having to take a flight. Make sure to take a look at each airlines expiration policy and DO NOT let your miles go to waste!

Airline Expiration Policies:

  • American Airlines: Miles expires after 18 months of inactivity. To keep your points from expiring you must have at least one qualifying activity within the 18-month time period.
  • Air Canada: Each point expires 7 years from when it was earned. You must also keep the account active by having at least one qualifying account activity every 12 months.
  • AirTran: A+ credits expire 12 months after the date that they are posted to your account. You can extend the life of your A+ Rewards credits by 1 year for just $29 each + tax.
  • Alaska Airlines: Miles do not expire as long as the account is active. If an account is inactive for 2 years, Alaska Airlines can close the account. To keep an account active, must redeem or earn miles every 2 years. If an account has been closed and miles taken away from the account, they can be reinstated for a $75 fee for up to 1 year. 
  • Asiana: Miles expire 10 years after boarding datel. However, if you are Diamond, Diamond Plus, or Platinum, you miles will expire 12 years after boarding date.
  • British Airways: Miles expire after 36 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles within each 36-month period.
  • Delta: Currently, no expiration policy.
  • El Al: Points from flying expire 3 years after they are earned. Points earned from partner activity do not have an expiration date.
  • Frontier: Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as the member generates accrual activity in the account (mileage posting from a flight, partner activity, etc.).
  • JetBlue: To keep points active you must earn points by flying JetBlue on a paid ticket at least once in a 12-month period. Additionally, using the JetBlue credit card at least once in this time period will also keep your points active. You cannot extend the expiration of points by partner activity or redeeming points.
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as miles are earned or redeemed one every 18-months.
  • Korean Air: Each mile expires 10 years after it was earned.
  • LAN: To keep points active you must earn points by flying LAN on a paid ticket at least once every 36 months.
  • Lufthansa: Miles expire 3 years from the date earned. However, if you have any status (Frequent Traveller Senator, Hon Circle Member) your miles will not expire. Additionally, if you have a Miles & More credit card, your miles will not expire – but there are some stipulations: 1) Must have been a Miles & More Credit Cardholder for at least 3 months; 2) Each month you need to have minimum 1 purchase (that is not returned or refunded) with your Miles & More Credit Card which is eligible for miles; 3) This is only valid for the Miles & More account on which the award miles for the Miles & More Credit Card are credited.
  • Southwest Airlines: Points expire after 24 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activity every 24 months.
  • Spirit Airlines: To keep your miles from expiring, you must earn miles every three months. This includes miles from flying, partner activity, or credit card usage.
  • United: Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles within each 18-month period.
  • US Airways: Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles within each 18-month period.
  • Virgin Airways: Miles expire after 36 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles within each 36-month period.
  • Virgin America: Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Miles will not expire as long as a member earns or redeems miles within each 18-month period.

Tips to Keeping Miles Active:

  • With the exception of a few, having just one mile earned or redeemed will continue to keep your account active. This works for: American, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Continental/United, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest, US Airways, Virgin Airways, and Virgin America You can keep your account active by:
    • Redeeming miles: Magazine (around 600 miles), donating to a charity (around 500 miles), free flight
    • Purchasing miles: Purchase the minimal amount possible (around $30)
    • Transferring miles: This will keep both accounts active (around $30)
    • Earning miles: Partner activity (rental car, flowers, eShopping mall), paid flight
  • Using the airline specific credit card as least once within the designated time frame will keep your account active. You can learn more about airline-specific credit cards here.
    • This is the easiest way to keep your JetBlue and Spirit Airways account alive
  • Transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Reward programs:
    • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Continental/United, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Air
    • American Express Membership Rewards: Air Canada, British Airways, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Airways, Virgin America

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • Nguyen said,

    A very helpful post!!!
    Thanks.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Nguyen – You are welcome!

  • Jenny said,

    Thank you for the great info!

  • dealswelike said,

    @Jenny – Glad this is helpful.

  • HikerT said,

    Lufthansa (not listed above) is pretty bad. Miles expire 3 years from the date earned. To keep them longer you must have LH status or one of their credit cards. With the credit card need to make purchases every month (not just pay the annual fee). If you did the Barclays CC last year, be sure to use up your miles ASAP unless you want to keep paying the annual fee. Most logical redemption looks to be NA – Europe in biz class one way which will cost 52.5K. You should have exactly this amount if you met the 2500 spend requirement on the card.

  • Scorpion said,

    Points.com is also a very good tool to keep points active..My American Aadvantage(AA) miles were expiring this week so I exchanged my 6 Cathay Pacific Asia miles to get 1 AA mile…Thus I was able to retain my AA miles for 18 more months for no charge at all…

  • dealswelike said,

    @Scorpion – That is very true! While points.com has horrible transfer rates, you only need 1 mile to post to your AA account.

  • irene said,

    Any info on Asiana miles would be insanely helpful. I can’t seem to find details about it online at all. Any way to keep them from expiring or does it work just like Lufthansa? Thanks!

  • kirby said,

    can you explain something about jetblue. its my understanding that jetblue is different in that miles expire after one year after they are earned? ie if i fly jan 2012, even if i fly again in dec 2012, the miles earned in jan 2012 will expire jan 2013. correct?

  • Sebin im said,

    http://eu.flyasiana.com/Global/US/en/homepage?fid=CLUB18000 page 7 on the right column.

    10 or 12 yrs depending your status level.

    ● Validity period by membership level
    Mileage expiration period will be determined by membership
    level at the point of boarding or mileage accrual.
    Membership Level Validity Period
    Gold & Silver &
    Magic miles members
    By the end of the same month 10 years after “boarding date” or
    “mileage accrual date”
    Elite members By the end of the same month 12 years after “boarding date” or
    “mileage accrual date”
    • Elite member of Diamond or above means member of Diamond, Diamond Plus and Platinum.
    • Validity period will begin from “Boarding date” for on-board miles, and from “mileage accrual
    date” for non-on-board miles.
    ● Sequence of mileage

  • dealswelike said,

    @Sebin im – Thanks for getting me that info – I will include it in the list.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Kirby – JetBlue is one of the least unfavorable policies, but you are able to extend your miles if you fly at least once within the 12 months that the points were earned, or use the JetBlue credit card. From your example, if you fly Jan 2012, flying again Dec 2012 will extend your miles earned from the beginning of the year.

  • dealswelike said,

    @HikerT – Thanks for the info – will add it to the list.

  • ideberta de melo said,

    i use tickets from air canada for 22 years for go brasil and came back canada i never think about mileage, i still have tickets and pass board

    what i have to do for request my mileage

    thanks

  • ideberta de melo said,

    i hope get answer by e mail soon as possible

  • dealswelike said,

    @idebertamelo – not sure exactly what you mean…

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