If you’re an American AAdvantage member and you’re Under 21, your miles don’t expire. If you’re a United, Southwest, Delta, Hawaiian or JetBlue member your miles don’t expire.
But if you’re a lifetime elite member of American AAdvantage, having accumulated over 2 million miles, you have to stay on the treadmill of either earning or burning points every 18 months to avoid losing all your accumulated points.
That’s something a reader discovered when she received an email from American Airlines letting her know points would be expiring in a few months. She hasn’t had any activity with American during the pandemic, and while they did pause expiration of points temporarily that has been lifted.
And during the past year she’s been helping her husband battle leukemia. Travel hasn’t been possible for them between the virus and medical appointments. And though she focused her travel on American for years, she’s had to take a break from thinking about that.
She reached out to me because she thought, as a lifetime Platinum member, she wouldn’t have to worry about points expiration. That’s how some loyalty programs handle things but it’s not the American Airlines rule.
Her question to me was whether a new co-brand credit card initial bonus would help here, and of course it would. Fortunately right now it is even easier to extend American AAdvantage miles. I sent her to the AAdvantage 40th anniversary sweetstakes which has a spin-to-win game. Over and over people are reporting back 40 free miles as a common prize.
There are lots of other easy ways to keep miles from expiring, such as:
There are other easy ways to earn miles, and less easy ways, and they don’t have to involve travel. For instance taking an opinion survey. Unfortunately American no longer lets you redeem miles for magazines, an easy way I’ve kept Alaska Airlines accounts I manage from losing points.
There’s no question I personally prefer the bundle of positives and negatives of American AAdvantage. They’ve just eliminated cancellation and redeposit fees on awards for all members, not just Executive Platinum members. Their miles are the ones I’ve redeemed the most, because they have had more partners with more international first class seats available to the places I’ve wanted to go (Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Japan Airlines, British Airways).
However they stand only with Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit and Frontier in the U.S. in expiring miles. That’s something they should consider dropping for lifetime elites.