American AAdvantage Miles No Longer Expire… If You’re Under 21 Years Old

Filed Under: American

American AAdvantage has just updated its mileage expiration policy for the better… I think.

American Airlines’ new mileage expiration policy

Historically American Airlines AAdvantage miles have expired after 18 months of account inactivity. This means that any activity at all — whether earning or redeeming miles — would reset the expiration counter.

For the past few months, American paused the expiration of AAdvantage miles, in light of the current pandemic (as many frequent flyer programs have). As of today AAdvantage miles once again expire, though with a new policy.

As of July 1, 2020, AAdvantage AAdvantage miles once again expire after 18 months of inactivity, unless you’re under the age of 21:

  • Once members turn 21, the program’s 18 month policy will take effect, meaning miles will at the earliest expire when you’re 22.5 years old
  • If a member who is younger than 21 had miles expire since January 1, 2020, they can request to have those miles reactivated at no cost by calling AAdvantage customer service

As this decision is described, this policy is intended to make it easier for members who may have fewer opportunities to earn miles. Understandably younger people (especially those under 18) may not be able to get credit cards, do online shopping, etc.

See this post for the easiest ways to instantly prevent AAdvantage miles from expiring.

AAdvantage miles no longer expire for those under 21

How does this compare to other mileage expiration policies?

Of the “big three” US airlines, American has by far the strictest policy when it comes to miles expiring:

Personally I’m not sure I’m in favor of airline miles not expiring. Sure, it seems wholly positive for miles to simply not expire, though it’s also important to keep in mind that there’s significant liability associated with outstanding miles.

There’s a reason airlines expired them in the past — there were billions of dollars worth of unredeemed miles, and realistically a good number of those would have never been redeemed, as there’s always breakage with loyalty programs.

Asking adults to have some sort of activity in a loyalty program at least once every 18 months isn’t exactly a big ask. This could be as simple as making an online purchase through a shopping portal.

Furthermore, as Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus miles have moved towards no longer expiring, we’ve also seen the miles issued by the programs become more of a fixed value currency, where you’re getting about one cent of value per mile. I wouldn’t say that’s exactly a great trend.

MileagePlus miles don’t expire for any members as of 2019

Bottom line

AAdvantage miles once again expire after 18 months of inactivity, unless you’re under 21, in which case they don’t.

American’s policy here isn’t as generous as the policies of Delta and United, but personally I don’t mind. Sure, if having miles that don’t expire doesn’t come at any cost to the overall value of the program then it’s a positive. However, given the liability associated with miles, I would assume that it does come at some cost.

Adults needing to have some sort of program activity once every 18 months isn’t much of an ask.

What do you make of American’s new mileage expiration policy? Do you care about program miles not expiring?

  1. I’d prefer if AA miles just didn’t expire. But it actually helps me because my kid has some AA miles that I keep having to jump through hoops to prevent them from expiring. The policy makes some sense given that minors can’t have credit cards and usually aren’t in a financial position to spend frivolously on AA’s shopping site (or whatever).

  2. AAdvantage miles didn’t expire when I chose to transfer my miles to the AAdvantage program after it chose to split up from the PanAm WorldPass program following a brief marriage back in the 1980s. Then they moved to a 3 year expiration ( in the late 90s, I believe, before settling on 18 months. With the ridiculous bump ups in business and first mileage rates for some tickets (I recently looked at EZE and SCL at the end of the calendar) it seems they are just trying to squeeze AAdvantage members out of free seats, even when few people are flying. I agree that 18 months is fair for small, infrequent flyer accounts In normal circumstances, but these are unusual times and they should be doing anything they can to keep loyalty program members, well, loyal. The deadline should be further extended until 18 months after a vaccine or therapeutic treatment becomes readily available and things are back to normal.

  3. I rarely fly American but I never like losing miles because of an expiration. I found it very simple to follow your advice and open a Bask Bank savings account. I put $1,000 in back in February so I received the 5,000 mile account bonus, plus 1,000 for providing feedback, plus I’m picking up about 83 miles per month in interest. It’s a very simple way to keep the miles from expiring without having to jump through hoops like “snic”, in the previous comment. And, I’m accumulating more miles so eventually I’ll have enough to do something with.

  4. Great new. My grandkids had their flight from SLC to SAN cancelled in May to go to Legoland. We couldn’t travel due to COVID-19. Miles would have expired in August. Now I can take them next year and they keep their miles.

  5. I prefer AA miles not to expire. I could save my miles for a trip when It is Convenient with my family and work.
    I fly with AA on some occasion.
    I have 300,000 with another major air line . I will use the miles some day. We get some perks from the airline of having this many miles

  6. As an AA MM ‘Senior Elite’ .
    My question is why discriminate in ‘favor’ of “under 21’. To the detriment of those, who ‘supported’ the airline BIS’ over many years…especially when the ‘miles’ earned are being utilized as ‘mortgage equity’….what if that ‘equity’ disappeared ?

  7. As an AA MM ‘Senior Elite’ .
    My question is why discriminate in ‘favor’ of “under 21’. To the detriment of those, who ‘supported’ the airline BIS’ over many years…especially when the ‘miles’ earned are being utilized as ‘mortgage equity’….what if that ‘equity’ disappeared ? Legal’ ramifications ?

  8. Lost all my miles, cannot travel during this pandemic, loyal customer taking between 3-5 international trips a year for 25 years. American wants me to pay $600 to reinstate my “current miles”.

    Would not have been an issue had there been no pandemic and I was able to travel, or if I suddenly decided to have an AA Advantage credit card charging $95 yearly fee and 21% interest, or if I felt like redeeming 50,000 miles for a magazine subscription….

    Penny wise pound foolish, the other airlines getting part of my business in the past will now get all of it.

    Great job American

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