| | | | | | | |

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 FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com or leave a comment!



Similar Posts


  1. I have 13k point from emirates. Do you know if i can transfer these points to some other programs like southwest/AA etc.. ? is there any other way to use them before they get expired.

  2. Emirates is not part of a alliance so there isn’t any real options to move these miles. I don’t know your travel habits, but your best bet to keep your miles alive is to either buy some miles for $40 from Emirates. Have some qualifying activity such as a car rental or hotel stay credited to your Emirates account. Or if you are a Starwood member, you can transfer some miles to Emirates. Hope that helps!

  3. I don’t fly United much and have just a few thousand miles but I want to keep them alive, you never know when they might come in handy. I use Topguest and Foursquare to earn 50 miles everytime I check in a United airport (have to be within 2 miles of the terminal). Simple and I hope it adds up eventually. I just wish I lived or worked near the airport, think of the free miles.

  4. That is a great point. I do that too! Little known tip is that you don’t have to live near an airport to check-in. You can manually over-ride FourSquare’s settings. Just don’t do it too frequently or TopGuest might ban you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.