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How to get expired American miles reinstated in your account for less

by on Wed March 9, 2016 • 8 Comments


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This is an unpublished program, but you can enroll by calling AAdvantage on 1-800-882-8880 and asking for ‘AAdvantage Account Service’ when you hear the voice menu.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….

  • Subscribe to receive your AAdvantage account summary and AAdvantage promotions via email
  • Earn a specific number of miles from AAdvantage partners
  • Fly a specific number of round-trip flights on America or its One World partners.

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):

  • Earn 5,000 base miles from AAdvantage partners
  • Earn miles from one round-trip flight on American, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, or Qantas

From 50,001 – 75,000 miles restored (complete BOTH)

  • Earn 7,000 base miles from AAdvantage partners
  • Earn miles from one round-trip flight on American, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, or Qantas

75,001 or more miles restored (complete BOTH)

  • Earn 10,000 base miles from AAdvantage partners
  • Earn miles from two round-trip flights on American, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, or Qantas

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:

  • $200 for 1 – 50,000 expired miles
  • $400 for 50,001 – 75,000 expired miles
  • $600 for more than 75,000 expired miles

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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Miles dont expireas long as card is open
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Intro Offer

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Annual Fee


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Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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8 thoughts on How to get expired American miles reinstated in your account for less

  1. Sharon Granoff

    I had Direct TV up until about 6 months ago but I didnt know I can get miles for that. My AA miles expired about a month ago. How do I get them back ? Thank you.


      @Sharon – Give them a call on 800 882 8880 and see what they can reinstate. But would be hard to get retroactive credit for the Directv if you didn’t enroll it earlier.

  2. Jamie Millman

    Please tell me how to reinstate my mileage? I have been saving mileage on American Airlines for 20 years.
    Thank you.


      @Jamie – Give them a call on 1-800-882-8880 (ask for ‘AAdvantage service’) and ask if there is a ‘re-engagement challenge’ you can take to try and reinstate your miles.


      @Jaime – Sorry to hear about that. Give AA a call on 800 882 8880 to see what options you have to do a ‘challenge’ or pay to reinstate some of them.

  3. Jay P Rivera

    What about Us airways dividen miles, I had some expire some time in 2005 I believe, since American merged with US Airways, could we pay a fee to reinstate us airways miles that were expired?


      Jay – You wouldn’t be able to do the ‘re engagement’ challenge as that’s for miles less than 5 years ago.

      But you may be able to pay the fee to reinstate as that applies to miles that expired starting in late 2002.


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