Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Seeing your AAdvantage miles expire is a terrible thing. Yes, American makes an effort to reach out to you and alert you that they’re about to expire, but life happens. Rules are rules, and miles vanish.
But all is not lost. AAdvantage doesn’t want to lose you for life, so there are some reasonable ways to get your miles back, even if they expired a very long time ago.
1. Double check you don’t have any activity that American might have missed. If you flew but forgot to add your AAdvantage number, you can get credit for the flight up to a year afterward using this form. If your miles expired after the date of that flight, you’ll get all your miles reinstated. Of if you stayed at a partner hotel or booked a partner rental car for example, you can try to contact the partner to see if they can credit the miles, though this can get cumbersome because it’s the partner, not American that has to authorize crediting the miles, and you can see a list of partner contacts here.
2. Consider a re-engagement challenge. If your miles expired in the last 5 years American will reinstate expired miles for a small $30 fee and a commitment from you to ‘re-engage’ with the American AAdvantage program by completing a challenge.
This is an unpublished program, but you can enroll by calling AAdvantage on 1-800-882-8880 and asking for ‘AAdvantage Account Service’ when you hear the voice menu.
The requirements once you’re enrolled in the challenge are….
You have 6 months to complete the requirements and the requirements depend on how many miles you want restored and you can choose to restore some or all of your miles depending on how much of the challenge you complete.
Here are the requirements based on the number of miles you want back:
Up to 50,000 miles restored (complete BOTH):
From 50,001 – 75,000 miles restored (complete BOTH)
75,001 or more miles restored (complete BOTH)
As you complete levels of the challenge, the miles for that level will be restored. For example, if you have 72,000 miles that expired, when you earn 5,000 miles from partners and get the miles for one roundtrip flight, you’ll get 50,000 miles in your account.
If you then earn another 2,000 miles from partners, for a total of 7,000 miles, you’ll get the rest of your 72,000 miles back.
What are ‘partner base miles’? These are miles earned from any AAdvantage partner that aren’t limited time or special bonuses. For example, miles earned from spending on an AAdvantage credit card count as partner base miles, but miles earned from the introductory sign on bonus for a card don’t count as ‘base’ miles.
3. Pay to reactivate your miles. American will let you pay a fee to reinstate any miles that have expired on or after December, 2002 (yes, that far back). The fee depends on how many miles you want to restore:
This is the most expensive way to reactivate your miles, but if you don’t have any paid flights coming up in the next 6 months, it’s a painful but not terrible alternative. It’s not a good deal if you’re reactivating less than 20,000 or so miles, since a $200 fee to reactivate that many miles probably means you’re better off paying cash for a ticket.
But if you’re reactivating bigger amounts it can save you on airfare. For example, paying $400 to get 50,000 miles back could get you two roundtrip tickets within the U.S. if the dates you want are available and that could save you over $700 on airfare.
And remember, there’s no time limit on when you need to reactivate your miles, so you have time to think, and only do it if you have a trip you’re ready to book.
AAdvantage lets you put award tickets on hold for free up to 5 days, even if you have no miles in your account, so you can lock in seats, and then decide to reactivate your miles on the spot.
The best deal though is to plan a bit ahead and do a re-engagement challenge, so you don’t have to pay up big fees to get your hard earned miles back.
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