United, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue miles do not expire. Alaska Airlines expires miles after 24 months of inactivity and didn’t even pause this during the pandemic.
American Airlines on the other hand has maintained an 18 month expiration policy. Any activity in the account extends out expiration to 18 months in the future. During the pandemic, with younger leisure travelers making up a disproportionate amount of flying, American updated this to no expiration for members under 21 years old.
Now they’ve offered two further improvements.
- Mileage expiration is now after 24 months of activity, as first noticed by Zach Griff.
- Citi and Barclays co-brand cardmembers won’t have miles expire as long as their accounts are open.
The no annual fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card would be a way to keep your miles from expiring without any activity in your account. Of course charging anything to the card would earn miles. And if you don’t use the card for years Citi might close the account.
So this exception sounds helpful, as though it’s a benefit of their co-brand cards, but I’m not sure how useful it is in practice. Besides, just open a Bask Mileage Savings account which earns one mile per dollar annually deposited into a no monthly fee savings account and you never have to worry about expiration.
I don’t have a fundamental problem with expiring miles. They’re a way of cutting significant cost out of the program, by rewarding only actively engaged members.
This adds to the significant news out of American already this week, including the launch of the new way elite status is earned, a change in how upgrades are paid for and also how upgrades are processed.