Mileage Programs

Reader Question: How To Keep United Miles From Expiring

“Hi Frequentflyeruniversity,
In addition to your post I was wondering, I’m thinking of transferring my dad’s miles 21,572 to my account 10,786. If that’s not enough I might get my dad to take out the united credit card that supposedly promises some amount of bonus miles since I’m an unemployed full-time student. I’m going to Europe either way but the miles expire at the end of January and I’d hate to lose them. Keep up the good work”

It’s always great to help new-comers navigate the maze of becoming a frequent flyer. This is a great question because a lot of people wonder about how to keep miles from expiring and how to transfer miles between two people.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any free way to transfer miles from one person’s United account to another without incurring heavy fees (You can transfer from your United to your Continental account for free). When transferring between two people, United and Continental charge $15 per 1,000 miles transferred. I was in a similar situation last year where I needed 10,000 United miles so I could redeem a Business Class flight to India. I ended up transferring the miles from my Mom’s account and paid $150 in transfer fees. While not terribly cheap, in that example spending $150 was the difference between flying in Coach for 15 hours or flying comfortably in Business.

Using United / Continental’s current transfer rates, in your example to transfer those 21,000 miles would cost you about $315. Not really a good deal.

My best advice for your particular situation would be to have your father sign up for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card with the 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Those points can be transferred to United or Continental. Once he has all the miles, I would suggest that you book your ticket with his miles.

If the $3,000 spend requirement is a bit much, the other option would be to have your Father sign up for the Continental OnePass Credit Card that offers 25,000 miles after the first purchase and an additional 5,000 miles for adding another card holder. This would bring your total haul to 30,000 miles. Those 30,000 miles combined with your Father’s 21,572 miles will get you 51,572 miles. Since you need 60,000 for a Saver Coach ticket to Europe,  you would then transfer your 10,786 miles from your United account into your Father’s account and pay the $150 in transfer fees. This will get you 61,572 miles! Although there are some fees associated with this second option, it is far cheaper than paying for a ticket out-of-pocket during the peak Summer European travel season. (Side note: I once booked a summer flight to Europe for a friend and it was $1,500 in coach).

In terms of keeping miles from expiring, you just need to have some qualifying activity. If your miles are set to expire at the end of January, I’d just transfer 1,000 miles between you and your Father’s account. Yes, it will cost you $15, but it is better than the alternative of losing all those miles!

Hope that helped!

If anyone else has any travel questions, feel free to email me at or leave a comment!



What To Do With Your Continental Card & A New United MileagePlus Explorer 60k Miles Offer

In the spirit of spreading the miles wealth, last year I had told many of my friends and family to sign up for the Continental 50k credit card offer from Chase. It was one of the best deals of last year because it gave 50k miles instantly after your first purchase with no minimum spend requirements and the first year annual fee was waived. Also depending on how poorly Chase managed your account, you most likely received 2 free Continental club passes prior to your anniversary date. (I still received my 2 club passes even though I had closed the card!)

Well now that the United and Continental merger is almost complete and the annual fee is coming due, therefore a lot of people are asking me what to do with their Continental card?

I called Chase the other day to close my Mom’s Continental card and was given the hard sell for keeping the card. They were really insistent that my Mom keep the card open and it is easy to see how people not accustomed to the credit card churning game could easily be pressured to keep the card. Luckily, I was closing the card and not my Mom, so the representative’s persuasiveness got nowhere.

I am not 100% sure but I suspect that once the United / Continental merger is complete, Chase will switch over the Continental card to the new United MileagePlus Explorer card. Typically when these types of forced conversions happen, you don’t receive any miles for switching to the new card.

Therefore, if you currently have the Continental card, I suggest you do either close the card or downgrade it to the Chase Freedom card. In previous posts, I have talked about the many benefits of having the Chase Freedom card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Since the Chase Freedom has no annual fee and some really useful 5% quarterly rotating categories, I personally think it is better to downgrade the Continental card rather than flat-out close it. Also by downgrading, it won’t cause an inquiry on your credit report. (Note: I receive no commissions or revenue from recommending the Chase Freedom card or any cards mentioned in this post.)

If you currently don’t have the Continental card or didn’t recently sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I would suggest signing up for the new United MileagePlus Explorer card. It will net you 50k miles after your first purchase and an additional 10k if you spend $25k in a year (not to mention the additional 25k miles for the $25k spend). Also this is a great offer because there is no minimum spend requirement!

If you are interested in the United MileagePlus Explorer card, Daraius at MillionMilesSecrets and Brian at ThePointsGuy have it all covered and explain in detail how to sign up for it!

What did you do with your Continental credit card? Keep it, close it, or downgrade it?