My Miles Expired! What Do I Do?!

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your miles have expired, here are some hopefully easy fixes.

1. Stay Calm.

Although miles are valuable and let you see the world at little to no cost, at the end of the day they are just miles. In the event that the steps below don’t work, luckily you read Frequent Flyer University and there are tons of new ways to earn miles that are posted everyday, so have no fear, we will eventually get you some more miles.

2. Think Real Hard About What You Did Last Year.

Although most mileage programs do not have expiration dates on their miles, a few still do. While most people think of “activity” as flying, that is not necessarily the case. Any activity will count. So if in the last year, you rented a car or stayed at a hotel, that “activity” can count towards getting your miles re-instated.

Just the other day, my friend from college asked me about getting some United miles back after they expired. He had gone to China 2 years ago on United Airlines. He forgot to keep his account active and his miles expired without his knowledge. When he went to go book an award flight, he found out his balance was 0. First thing I asked him was if in the past year had he flown any airlines, stayed at any hotels, or rented any cars. He said he had done another study abroad and had flown KLM, BMI, and Easy Jet. Luckily for him BMI was a Star Alliance partner. Since he had flown on BMI within the last year, even though he had not had BMI credit his activity to United, he was still in the 12 month window to get credit for the flight. So he found his BMI ticket, emailed United, and got all of his miles reinstated.

3. Buy Them Back

In the event that your miles expire, airlines sometime offer customers the ability to purchase back the miles that expired at a fee. However given how much it costs to reinstate miles, 9/10 times it is better to not reinstate them and instead just take advantage of the large sign up bonuses for credit cards that are always available.  However if you have a trip coming up and need the miles to use on the trip, it is far cheaper to reinstate mile than it is to buy them flat-out. Just consider it a very expensive lesson.

Have you ever had any miles that expired? What did you do?



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One Comment

  1. 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

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