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This article was last updated Apr 15, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
You’re a loyal United Airlines MileagePlus® program member and the worst happens — a pile of your precious miles expired. That begs the question: Can you get them back?
MileagePlus miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, so if you don’t travel a lot, those miles can quickly disappear from your account. The good news is that, yes, you can get your miles back if you take one of these actions:
Get a United credit card
Open one of four United-branded credit cards — United℠ Explorer Card ($0 Intro for First Year, then $95 annual fee), United Explorer℠ Business Card ($95 annual fee), United Club℠ Card ($450 annual fee) and United Club℠ Business Card ($450 annual fee). While this doesn’t help if your miles have already expired, future miles will not expire as long as the account remains open.
The information related to the United℠ Explorer Card, the United Explorer℠ Business Card, the United Club℠ Card, and the United Club℠ Business Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to Chase credit card offers. See chase.com for more information.
Enroll in eMiles
Sign up to earn just enough miles to keep your account active by watching ads, signing up for free services, getting deals on products from top brands or sharing your opinions on products with market researchers.
Use the MileagePlus X app to buy something
Link your MileagePlus account with this app, available on iOS and Android, then search for ways to earn miles by shopping and dining. Boost your mileage earnings by linking a United Chase credit card to the app. You can also search for your favorite merchants. Buy e-gift cards, dine at a participating restaurant or shop online to earn miles. Plus, primary United Chase cardmembers earn a 25% bonus on miles on e-gift card purchases.
Shop at a MileagePlus online retail partner
If you’ve got an online purchase in mind, go to the United MileagePlus portal first for links to your favorite stores. You’ll earn United miles on your purchase and reset the clock; you don’t need a United credit card for this option.
Sign up for MileagePlus Dining
Earn miles by linking any credit card to your MileagePlus account, then dine at more than 10,000 participating restaurants, bars, or clubs and pay with your registered card. You’ll earn miles for every dollar you spend, including tax and tip.
Donate 1,000 miles or more to charity
An easy way to instantly keep your miles active is by donating miles to charity and do some good in the process. It’s a great option when your miles are about to expire. Charities include the American Red Cross, the U.S. Olympic team, Make-A-Wish and the USO.
Pay to reinstate them
If your miles have already expired, United gives you two ways to restore them: Repurchase them (outlined in the chart below) or complete a reinstate challenge.
If you have more than 20,000 miles to restore, taking the challenge is a much cheaper option. The challenge involves paying a $100 nonrefundable fee, and then having 90 days to either take a United flight or get approved for and make a purchase with a new United MileagePlus credit card.
The bottom line
The MileagePlus terms and conditions note that United “may, but shall have no obligation to” send you a notification about your expiring miles. That puts the onus on you to keep track of them.
One major caveat is that any miles you earn must post before your account is set to expire. For example, it can take several weeks for online shopping miles to post, so you could still be in danger of losing them. The fastest way to reset the clock is to redeem the smallest number of miles, such as one iTunes song for only $1.29, to keep the rest of your miles active!