American Airlines Hasn’t Stopped Expiring Members’ Miles

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Delta, Southwest, United and JetBlue do not expire miles at all. For United and Southwest that’s a recent change. The large hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, have all pausing expiration of points.

That’s because when you’re grounded and can’t travel you shouldn’t also lose your miles. Programs are going to need to rely on their members to travel again soon. And they aren’t going to engage in a program where they’ve lost their miles.

However American Airlines still expires miles in your account if you don’t have activity for 18 months. They have not paused this even though travel has slowed down for so many.

I asked the airline about their plan here and they told me that they do not yet have one. A spokesperson for American shares,

We’re closely monitoring the impact that COVID-19 may have on our members’ ability to earn elite status during the current qualifying year. Our commitment to their well-being and ability to earn and redeem miles through AAdvantage remains our top priority, and we’ll continue to assess the situation. We do not have any updates to share to our elite program at this time.

This isn’t easy, though hotel programs have managed to step up to the challenge. An airline’s finance folks have breakage assumptions (their liabilities fall, and they can recognize revenue, based on a certain percentage of miles sold just expiring). Postponing expiration of miles is therefore costly. However expiring miles in member accounts during a global pandemic is counterproductive to getting back on their feet later.

In the meantime since you do need to keep watch over expiring AAdvantage miles, consider:

  • Stocking up on miles in a big way. Accumulating miles now is my strategy, I want to be burning miles for all the empty seats as soon as I’m traveling in a big way again, and AAdvantage miles are the currency I’ve redeemed the most in recent years.

    Consider that the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has an initial bonus of 50,000 miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and a $0 the first year annual fee (then $99) and that the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® has an initial bonus of 70,000 miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening and a $0 the first year annual fee (then $99).

  • Opening a mileage-earning savings account. Bask Bank lets you earn AAdvantage miles for savings account deposits. I think depositing just $12 is great to earn about a mile per month. Of course you can earn 1000 miles just for opening the no monthly fee account and offering feedback.

  • Making a purchase through American’s shopping portal. Any purchase will do, just watch to be sure the miles post correctly.

  • Buying or transferring the minimum number of miles from another account. It’s quick and easy but I don’t love paying money to keep the account open.

  • Transferring miles in from a hotel program. Through March 31 you can still transfer points frmo Hilton, Best Western and Choice Hotels along with Marriott and Hyatt. Starting April 1 you can still transfer points in from Hyatt and Marriott.

One thing checking my list before publishing did is it made me realize American is no longer a partner of Mags4Miles where you can spend a few hundred miles on a magazine subscription. That’s still my go-to for extending Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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  1. Even Frontier extended my miles. Only to 5/31 but at least it is something. They were going to expire end of this month and I had to cancel my trip on them.

  2. Gary I have the AA Executive card and the wife has the Red card I believe.
    Does using those cards and getting miles from purchases count as activity?
    Wouldn’t normally be a problem as we usually fly 1x yr but I don’t see us flying anytime soon. Cancelling our trip to Europe coming up in April

  3. SWA is similar. Their vouchers that they give you for a canceled flight are still expiring.

  4. Hi Gary,

    Timely article for me! Wife and I’s miles both expire at end of May and June respectively 53k miles each). I have 36k Hilton points. Haven’t really focused on accumulating with them as I have the Hyatt card and we don’t stay too much in hotels (maybe 6-7 nights a year through multiple trips). 2 questions…..Can I transfer 10k HH points from my account to my wife’s AA account, or do I need to transfer points to her Hilton account (she has 0 pts). Looks like I can transfer 10k from my HH account to my AA account. Probably not the best deal, but with not dining out for us an option right now, just looking for something that’s not too time consuming. Worry if I use the shopping portal the lag time for pts. to post.

  5. My brother just had 167K miles expire. Literally. They’ll let me buy them back for $1,250 but am wondering whether if I call and beg them to extend (bc of the Coronavirus) they will make an exception??

  6. These guys are all asking for billions in bailouts. I would like to see some serious strings attached, in exchange for federal money – reasonable change fee, cancellation fee, extended vouchers, suspend mileage termination and the like. On the one hand they want billions because they are hurt by coronavirus; on the other hand, they deny any leeway with their own customers, who are also hurt by coronavirus. The arrogance and chutzpah these airlines are displaying is beyond words.

  7. @james is buying a $10 restaurant gift certificate through an AA dine an option? you’d maintain your $ at the resto and your miles without paying all the transfer fees/devaluation you’d otherwise suffer?

  8. Thanks @colleen! I like that idea! Is that allowed under the terms and conditions for AA dine? We have a few restaurants in our area, none we frequent regularly, but I’d do that for sure. Thanks!

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