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Easiest ways to stop American miles from expiring without flying

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This article was last updated Mar 16, 2016, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

American AAdvantage® miles expire after 18 months from the date of your last account activity. But there are so many ways to generate activity, it’s not hard to keep them going indefinitely.

The key is any activity that adds or deducts from your AAdvantage® account will extend the expiration of your miles, no matter how small.

You can extend the expiration an unlimited number of times, so if you have some activity at least once every 18 months your miles won’t expire.

Below is a rundown of some of the lower effort ways to extend the expiration miles without flying.

Generally, activity that costs you miles will reset the clock more quickly, because things that cost you miles tend to post to your account within a day. Activity that earns you miles may take longer to post.

1. Shop through the AAdvantage® Shopping Portal

Renting a $1.99 movie on FandangoNow can earn you 4 AAdvantage® miles when you start your purchase from the American Airlines AAdvantage® Shopping Portal, and that will extend the expiration of your AAdvantage® miles.


Besides FandangoNow, the portal allows you to do online shopping that you were going to do anyway and earn additional miles for your purchases.

You must create an account and link it with your AAdvantage® account. Once you have created an account with the AAdvantage® Shopping Portal, search for a store that you were planning to make a purchase at anyway.

There are over 850 online stores that offer additional miles by shopping through the AAdvantage® Shopping Portal. Any miles earned through the portal will extend the expiration of your American miles by 18 months.

Miles typically will post to your account within four weeks of purchase, but sometimes can take up to eight weeks.

It is best if you plan ahead and make sure that the shopping portal miles will post before your miles expire to reduce hassle.

If your miles are already within a couple weeks of their expiration date, it is still possible to make a purchase through the shopping portal, but you may have to contact American Airlines to get your miles reinstated after the shopping portal activity posts to your AAdvantage® account.

2. Eat a meal at an AAdvantage® partner restaurant

Thousands of restaurants participate in the AAdvantage® Dining Program, which lets you earn miles each time you dine, even for take out or delivery. All you do is register your credit and / or debit cards with the dining program, and when you pay for your meal with the card, you’ll earn the extra points in your AAdvantage® account. You don’t need an American AAdvantage® credit card to take advantage of this – any card will do.


3. Make a Purchase with an American Airlines Credit Card

If you have a credit card that earns American Airlines AAdvantage® miles, the easiest way to keep your miles from expiring is to make a small purchase at least once every 18 months.

A purchase as small as $1.00 will cause one American Airline mile to be added to your frequent flyer account, which will extend the expiration of your miles by 18 months. Better yet, you can purchase something that you were already planning on anyway, maybe your daily Starbucks or the new sheets you need for the house. This method will not cost you anything extra. The only cost is the opportunity cost arising from using a different card.

Surprisingly, just paying your annual fee each year isn’t enough to keep your AAdvantage® account active, as paying your annual fee doesn’t earn you any miles.

4. Transfer hotel points in

If you have some hotel points, you can transfer them into your AAdvantage® account any time. Here is the minimum number of points you can transfer from each participating hotel program as a general member to AAdvantage miles:

  • Best Western Rewards: 5,000 points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Club Carlson: 2,000 points = 200 AAdvantage miles
  • Choice Privileges: 5,000 points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Hilton HHonors: 10,000 points = 1,500 AAdvantage miles
  • Hyatt Gold Passport: 5,000 points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles
  • IHG® Rewards Club: 10,000 points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Marriott® Rewards: 10,000 points = 2,000 AAdvantage miles
  • Starwood Preferred Guest®: 2,500 points = 2,500 AAdvantage miles
  • Wyndham Rewards: 6,000 points = 1,200 AAdvantage miles

5. Donate 1,000 Miles to Charity

This is the most expensive method of those listed here to keep your miles from expiring, but it is still less expensive than letting all of your miles expire and it does some good along the way.

American Airlines allows you to donate miles to Miles for Kids in Need, Miles for All Who Serve, and Miles of Hope.

The minimum donation is 1,000 miles which will post as qualifying activity to your AAdvantage® account.

You can also donate cash (minimum $25) to Miles for the Cure and earn American Airlines Miles for your donation. This method will also extend the expiration date of your miles, but may take longer to post.

What if your miles already expired?

You’re not entirely out of luck.

American has a few ways to get your miles back, even if they expired many years ago, which we run through here, ranging from reinstating them for a fee to completing a challenge that includes taking flights and earning miles from partners.

But with so many low effort ways to keep your miles from expiring, it’s not hard to avoid that altogether.

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January 14, 2015