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Easiest ways to stop American miles from expiring without flying

by on Wed March 16, 2016 • 18 Comments

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

Buying a $0.99 song on iTunes can earn you 3 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 iTunes, 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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18 thoughts on Easiest ways to stop American miles from expiring without flying

  1. Alice


    If I buy miles, would the expiration be extended for another 18 months?

    Also, we’re a family of five, can we pool the miles together into one nominated family member?

    Can I use my miles to book a flight for a family member?


      @Alice – Yes that would extend the expiration. Unfortunately you can’t pool miles without paying fees for a transfer.

      But you can use miles to book flights in anyone’s name – family member, friend, or random stranger.

  2. Zoe

    Super helpful!! You can literally buy a song on iTunes via the portal and this will reset my points?! That’s easy enough! I was thinking I’d need to buy 1000 miles. If I book a flight (using my AA advantage number but paying cash) but the flight is after my points expire, does this reset the points or do I need to actually take the flight with AA before my points expire?

  3. Mike Simone

    What about if your miles expire tomorrow and today you transfer miles from a hotel to AA but the hotel program says it may take 6-8 weeks before the miles are posted on the AAdvantage account? Will the AA miles expire if the miles from the hotel account aren’t posted by the expiration date?


      @Mike – It’s the transaction date, not the posting date that counts for this. You may need to call and fight it, but if you have evidence you initiated the transfer today, you can get the expiration extended once they post to your account.

  4. Shashi

    What if I redeem points for a magazine subscription? The cheapest I saw was 300 points + $2 cash.. will that reset the clock?

  5. Dell Radcliffe

    Please tell me if I book a flight before my miles expire (using miles to pay for it) is there no problem if the flight itself is after the miles expire?
    Thanks, Dell


      @Dell – Yes, once you redeem the miles, the clock on expiration will reset another 18 months, even before you take the flight.


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