Let’s assume you’re not flying anywhere soon or planning any big redemptions, but you need to keep your miles from expiring. First, let’s review the expiration policies for the airlines covered on this website:
|American Airlines||18 months of no earning or redeeming miles|
|British Airways||36 months of no earning or redeeming miles|
|Singapore Airlines||36 months after they are earned|
|Southwest Airlines||24 months of no earning miles|
|United Airlines||18 months of no earning or redeeming miles|
Now, let’s go over the best ways to push out your mileage expiration date without spending a ton of money. Most of these methods are not instant, so you’re going to need some lead time for the miles to post to your account. Also, there is currently no way to extend the expiration of Singapore Krisflyer miles (other than paying a fee to get 6 more months).
Use a Shopping Portal
Lead Time: Up to 8 weeks (usually faster than this though)
Making a purchase through an airline’s shopping portal earns miles and keeps your existing balance from expiring. All you need to do is visit the shopping portal, search for the store you’re planning to purchase from, and go through the link they provide to complete your purchase.
If there’s nothing you’re planning to buy right now, then go through the portal to iTunes and buy a song for $1. iTunes participates with every portal listed above.
Eat at a Restaurant in the Dining Rewards Network
Lead Time: 1-2 weeks
All of the U.S.-based airlines above participate in a dining rewards network. You can use the dining rewards website to link a credit card and to search for a nearby restaurant where you can earn miles. Use your linked card to pay your bill.
Transfer Miles from a Flexible Point Currency
Lead Time: Up to 24 hours
If you have points with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, or Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, these can all be transferred to various airlines from the list above. Most of these transfers have a minimum redemption of 1,000 points, however.
Spend Money on Your Co-Branded Credit Card
Lead Time: Up to 1 month
If you have the co-branded credit card for any of the airlines above, any purchase you make will earn you some miles. They should post on your next statement’s closing date.
Make a Cheap Redemption
Lead Time: Varies, but on the order of 48 hours
For mileage programs that will extend your expiration for redeeming miles, a cheap redemption can be used. With most programs, the cheapest redemption will be either a magazine subscription or a donation to charity and will likely range from a few hundred to a thousand miles.