American AAdvantage Seems To Be Terminating Accounts For A New Reason

American Airlines started shutting down a large number of frequent flyer accounts back in December for circumventing the restrictions on how often they could earn a bonus on Citibank AAdvantage credit cards.

New AAdvantage accounts were frequently targeted for Citibank card offers that contained an invitation code. This invitation code didn’t have the 48 month restriction between bonuses. So people would open up plenty of AAdvantage, sometimes in a pet’s name, to generate these codes. Or they would buy and sell the codes.

Now there seems to be a new reason that American is shutting down accounts, that I had not seen before: fraudulently submitting rental car receipts for credit.

American AAdvantage is one of the last U.S. airline loyalty programs whose miles expire. Delta, JetBlue, United, and Southwest all have points that do not expire. American, though, requires you to have activity in your account at least once every 18 months or you will forfeit your points.

If you lose your points but can show that you had activity which wasn’t properly credited, you can get your points reinstated. Apparently people were submitting car rentals to earn AAdvantage miles where the actual rental was done by somebody other than the accountholder.

JonNYC reports,

Back in the day when everyone’s miles expired I didn’t used to give a frequent flyer account when I’d rent cars (generally with Avis). That way I could submit my rentals for ‘retro credit’ when I needed to keep an account active.

It seems like many people were doing this, albeit fraudulently. That’s obscure enough that I’d be there was a ‘ringleader’ perhaps even offering to help people get their miles back (for a fee?) and using this trick that came back to bite the members – who will wind up losing all the miles (and booked award trips) in their account.

One unintended consequence of keeping everyone on payroll at a time when there’s limited travel, and limited mileage accumulation, is – it seems – American’s auditors don’t have a lot to do and are finding ‘projects’.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. American is doing a good job shutting people out who ruin it for everyone else. Well done AA

  2. Very odd. Instead of submitting bogus paperwork, just credit a car rental once a year to AA and keep AAdvantage miles alive. That is what I did for a few years around 2012. Just enter the AA number when you make a reservation and it will appear as a small credit after you rent. No need to write a request letter retroactively.

  3. Way easier to just use AAdvantage online shopping portal to order something for a few bucks from any number of stores. Or use AA dining for a nearby restaurant you visit anyways.

  4. Alaska miles also expire. Well Alaska says miles do not expire, but will close your account after 24 months being inactive.

  5. Sounds like something trump would do without blinking…and then deny it when caught.

  6. @Andrew – just go to McDonalds once a month and get some dining credits, so simple to keep an account active.

  7. I recommend reading the privacy policy on the dining credits. I don’t like sharing all of my Visa transaction history in exchange for some AA miles. I stick to the Advantage Shopping portal. A $5 Groupon earns 10pts even if you aren’t interested in the shop itself that’s a cheap reset.

  8. Hey, SandStateofOurNation, way to take a subject that has absolutely nothing with politics and using it to swipe at Trump. Quit your cryin snowflake. Geez what a moron.

  9. @ Ryan – i’m not sure how it is ruining it for others, this is just trying to keep miles alive, no I have never done this but the expiration thing is horses**t to begin with

    @ Andrew – OMG yeah the online shopping works but it also doesn’t, I’ve chased down a few purchases often enough just to get mileage credit. AA makes your work for it. It should be automatic. My latest is chasing down [on month 4 now] a $700 purchase for a family member. They make this so difficult. So I get it if people avoid online shopping. What I do though, is a local ice cream shop keeps our accounts alive for a $5 purchase on a nice day. The idine works way better than e-shopping.

    @ Sad State – You’re a left wing nut job I see

  10. @ sadstateofournation…. Who knew that TDS could be triggered with a discussion about flight reward miles. Since you went there first, Bernie would just redistribute your miles to everyone else and Biden, hell, he probably doesn’t even remember what an airplane is.
    Thanks for getting the political side of the discussion started.

  11. No one has to bite when someone brings up politics. That’s your choice to bite. Own it and take responsibility.

  12. How do you earn miles for McDonald’s purchases? They are listed on the AA Dining website

  13. I normally like your work.
    This article is horrendously bad, though. Wild speculations about a “ringleader for hire” with zero evidence about it is…baffling.
    How you pivoted to this odd musing with no basis that doesn’t logically follow from the rest of the article is simply beyond me.
    Until we know something is true, claiming to know about it is simply dishonest.

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