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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.