The Easiest Way To Instantly Prevent Your American Miles From Expiring

Filed Under: American

Like many of you, I manage the miles & points accounts for my entire family. I rely on them to use the right credit cards for their spend, but the rest is on me, including making sure that their points don’t expire, helping them redeem their points, etc. Fortunately AwardWallet helps me keep track of the expiration dates of the points in all those accounts, and they even send me emails when points are close to expiring.

Anyway, yesterday while checking on the general status of many accounts, I noticed that my mom’s American AAdvantage miles were set to expire next week. She has ~110,000 AAdvantage miles, so that’s a significant number of miles that I wanted to make sure didn’t expire. AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, so I guess it has been too long since she has earned or redeemed miles.

You can reset the expiration date of AAdvantage miles with any sort of account activity, whether it be earning or redeeming miles. So in this post I wanted to share what I consider to be the easiest and fastest way to reset the expiration date of American miles.

First let me say that there are lots of other ways to easily reset the expiration of AAdvantage miles, and depending on how much time you have before miles expire, any of them could be great options:

  • You can buy AAdvantage miles, though there’s a $30 processing fee per transaction in addition to the cost of miles, so buying just 1,000 miles would cost you over $60, which is a terrible deal
  • You can transfer AAdvantage miles to/from another account, though sharing 1,000 miles costs $27.50
  • You can transfer 1,000 Starpoints to AAdvantage, which is a good option, though it can take a few days
  • You can use the AAdvantage Dining program to earn some miles, though it takes a few days for miles to post, and it’s also easier to do this yourself than to instruct someone else on how to do it
  • You can use the AAdvantage eShopping Portal to earn some miles, though it takes upwards of a week for miles to post
  • You can put spend on an AAdvantage credit card, or apply for one, and once the miles post at the end of the billing period, that will reset the mileage expiration
  • You can redeem AAdvantage miles for magazine subscriptions, which is actually a good deal, but personally we don’t really want magazines

All of these are great options, though the catch is that with the exception of redeeming miles for magazines, all of the other options either aren’t instant, and/or are costly.

To me there’s one option that’s my favorite — it doesn’t cost any cash, it’s instant, and it even makes you feel good. You can donate AAdvantage miles to charity, and donating 1,000 miles will reset the expiration date of your miles. The three options here include Miles of Hope, Miles for all Who Serve, and Miles for Kids in Need. So we donated 1,000 miles to Miles of Hope.

Instantly the miles were deducted from my mom’s account, and it showed the new expiration date, of May 2019.

Now, before someone says “you’re cheap, you should donate more miles,” I think there’s one thing that’s worth pointing out. While I’m all for charity, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that generally redeeming miles for charity isn’t a way to maximize value for everyone. Typically the way it works is that the airlines are just making some cash contribution based on how they’re accounting for the value of miles, and that amount is almost always going to be lower than what I value the miles at, since I’m good at redeeming them. When it comes to being charitable, you’re almost always better off donating cash than miles.

Comments
  1. Hyatt about to expire, a quick google search will show lots of results

    What Constitutes Activity with World of Hyatt

    Per the Hyatt terms and conditions page, you have various options of activity that Hyatt will consider valid and will count towards keeping your account life and keep resetting your 24-month clock.

    Earning Points – There are several options to earn points including earning points for stays at Hyatt Hotels or participating M life resorts or for Avis Car Rentals
    Redeem Points – Use your points and redeem them for a free night at one of Hyatt’s properties. You can also redeem points for room upgrades and other amenities. If you don’t want a free night, you can redeem your points for dining and spa activities at many participating Hyatt locations around the world. You can also redeem 6,000 points for an Avis Car rental per day.
    Earn Credit with a Partner – Earning credit with a Hyatt Travel Partner or M Life Tier Credits for a stay at a Hyatt hotel or resort is considered activity and will reset your 24 months.
    Transfer awards – Transferring eligible awards to another World of Hyatt Member is considered activity and will keep your account active.
    Transfer Ultimate Rewards – If you’ve got an Ultimate Rewards earning credit card that allows a points transfer to partners, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred℠‎ Credit Card, by completing a transfer to your World of Hyatt account you’ll extend their life.
    Convert Points to Miles – Converting some of your Hyatt Points into miles with one of Hyatt’s 27 partner airlines will count towards keeping your account alive. You can start from 5,000 points for 2,000 miles.
    Purchase Points – Purchasing world of Hyatt points will count as activity and will keep your account and points alive.
    Hold a Hyatt Credit Card – The Hyatt Credit Card will keep your account active and your points from expiring. Not only that, if you spend $50,000 per year on your card, you will receive complimentary Explorist Status. Also, you will earn three bonus points for every dollar spent at Hyatt hotels and resorts worldwide.
    Combine Points with another Member’s Account – Combining your points with another member is considered eligible activity and will reset the 24-month activity clock.

  2. One thing I love about being SPG Platinum is that I can transfer a single SPG point to most airlines and keep them active.

  3. You could also just comment on the AwardWallet post about the issue. They will give you 5 AA miles for doing so. I just did this recently, but it took a few days to post. If you’re reading the emails, AwardWallet warns you three months before expiry, so you have lots of time.

  4. Another option: buy a $3 coffee with a UFB debit card and earn 1 AA mile. But that can take 1-2 months to post.

  5. I found a restaurant near me that also has a cafe section. I go there every so often to buy a cup of coffee. That’s enough to reset me. Shopping is the worst because it’s not reliable. I’ve had many transaction that they declined as mileage for one reason or another. And sometimes they just have it pending for months before they credit you.

  6. I thought that if you had an AA credit card the annual fee would update your mileage balance, but that didn’t seem to work this year. Does anyone have any input on that topic?
    Did the Airlines change the rules?

  7. As someone who’s not from the US all those shopping options weren’t really for me, and doing the AA shopping site with ad refferer to iTunes didn’t work, I couldn’t get iTunes to open.
    Which is when I finally found the AwardWallet 5 Miles for a comment that was already mentionend. Very easy, takes 10 seconds, costs nothing.

  8. Thanks so much for your post! Only had three days left before points expired. Was going to spend the $60 to buy the 1,000 miles. Much better to donate 1,000 for someone in need.

  9. After purchasing an item through the shopping portal a few days ago, and then using miles to buy a magazine today, neither have shown as activity on my account, which is set to expire in two days. Anyone know how long it takes for the magazine purchase to post? I know the shopping portal purchase can take a week or two, but I’ve seen it post in a couple of days, also.

  10. It can take a few weeks, but the points will date back to the date of the purchase, so you are fine

  11. Yes.
    But it will reinstate after the shopping portal points post.

    Similarly, you can reinstate expired accounts by using a past car rental which will credit points from before the expiry.

  12. Anyone know how to tell if your magazine order is in process? I have the screenshot thanking me for the order and showing the date and time of the order, but never got an email verifying the purchase.

  13. Answered my own question. The magazine purchase took at least 12 hours to post the transaction, and less than 24 hours. Ordered it at 10:30 AM yesterday, and last night at about 11:00 PM nothing was showing. By this morning at 8:00 AM, the transaction was posted. Thanks for your help, Sammy.

  14. I realized my miles would expire in 2 days, so I ordered the cheapest magazine (China News) for 100 miles. Be careful not to give your credit card info to order any of the magazines that require extra money, because there’s a subtle clause that lets the company auto renew your subscription at a very high rate.

    My purchase showed up in my Aadvantage acct as a mileage deduction in about 12 hours.

  15. Is there anyway to regain. My hundreds of thousands of American miles that expired ~ 5 years ago due to inactivity? When us air bought Aa I lost rack of them…..is there a class action lawsuit vs AA I could join with others in my situation ?

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