5 Ways to Keep American Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles from Expiring (Without Getting on a Plane)

My cousin called me yesterday afternoon to ask a question about her American Airlines miles expiring. She has a stash of miles expiring in a few months and didn’t even know that miles expire. I gave her a short answer because I was heading home from the mall to get ready for dinner. But it got me thinking, that maybe I hadn’t given her the best advice or even all the options, so I did some research and here’s what I’d tell her now.

Yup, your miles will expire if you don’t have activity in your account every 18 months. If you have no plans to fly to keep your account active, there are plenty of options. My cousin could:

  1. Apply for a Citi AAdvantage or Barclays Aviator Credit Card.
  2. Make a hotel reservation or car rental with an AAdvantage hotel or car rental partner. As long as her American Airlines frequent flyer number is linked to the reservation, she’ll get activity in her account and keep her miles alive.
  3. Link a credit card to the American Airlines dining program.  She can link American Airlines and then get miles when she eats at select restaurants.
  4. Shop online using the AAdvantage shopping portal.
  5. Buy or gift miles, redeem for a magazine subscription, or donate miles to any of American Airline’s partner charities.

The quick answer I gave to my cousin (since she enjoys reading magazines) was to subscribe to a magazine using her miles.  But now she’ll know about all the choices she has. And come to think of it, since she’s the number one shopper in the family, I think I’ll change my advice and suggest she give the AAdvantage shopping portal a spin and tell me what she thinks!

What do you usually do to keep your airline accounts active so your miles don’t expire? Did I miss any of your favorite strategies?

Grant’s additional tip: If your American Airlines miles have expired, there is a way to reactivate them, but there is a cost involved.  According to the Reactivate AAdvantage Miles page:

If your AAdvantage® miles expired on or after December 2002, they may be eligible for reactivation.* To reactivate, simply call AAdvantage Customer Service at 1-800-882-8880 (ask for ‘AAdvantage Account Service’ at the main menu) and you can use them to claim awards. The reactivation rates are**:

$200 for 1 – 50,000 expired miles
$400 for 50,001 – 75,000 expired miles
$600 for more than 75,000 expired miles

*Expired miles in archived accounts may not be eligible

**Rates are charged based on the total number of miles reactivated from one account at one time, regardless of when the miles expired

Terms and conditions Expand
Reactivated AAdvantage miles will be credited to your account as a mileage bonus and do not count toward elite status qualification or Million MilerSM status. Reactivated miles are subject to the standard AAdvantage program terms and conditions. Please allow 72 hours for the miles to post to your account. You will have at least 18 months in which to redeem reactivated miles for an award. Reactivated miles will not expire as long as your account has qualifying activity in any 18-month period.

If you have a big chunk of miles that expired, reactivating them is essentially like buying a ton of miles for a relatively cheap price.  If you have exactly 50,000 miles that expired, buying them back for $200 is paying 0.4 cents per mile (CPM).  Reactivating 75,000 miles for $400 is like buying miles for 0.53 CPM and reactivating 100,000 miles is like buying miles for 0.6 CPM (and possible much lower).  Just something to keep in mind, but if at all possible, its way cheaper to keep your miles alive than reactivating them.

5 thoughts on “5 Ways to Keep American Airlines Frequent Flyer Miles from Expiring (Without Getting on a Plane)

      1. shelli

        Sorry Dan, wrong HEAR. They can’t hear your message if I don’t spell hear correctly. Time for coffee so my spelling will be better :)

  1. Denise

    Thank you for providing many options to keep points! I would hate to lose miles I worked hard to earn – traveling, eating out and shopping are rough.

    1. shelli

      Good to have choices for keeping those miles alive. I think all us miles and points enthusiasts feel the same way :))


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