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Easiest ways to stop American miles from expiring without flying

by on Wed March 16, 2016 • 70 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

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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70 thoughts on Easiest ways to stop American miles from expiring without flying

    1. Eveline Gabriel

      Yes, if it is done before they expire. That’s an activity, right?

      Or write to the airline and tell them you are about to purchase something that will add miles to your account.

  1. Kathleen Winters

    My miles expire tomorrow may 8, 2018.
    Will that be at midnight tonight?

    Have 2 “pending “ transactions from
    may 5, 2018
    Do those 2 transactions have to be change to posted from pending or will the pending purchases cover tomorrow’s expiration date for my miles?
    Do posted purchases change date to posting date from pending date
    If not what are my least expensive options to keep miles
    Thanks !

  2. Dawn

    My miles are due to expire tomorrow 4/23/18. I’ve made purchases through AAdvantage eshopping, but they have not posted to my account. Do I still have tomorrow before they expire, or will they expire at midnight tonight? What can I do immediately to keep them?


      @Dawn – Sorry to hear about that and we missed this – but at that point something instant like buying miles would be a better option.

  3. Yash

    If i donated 1000 miles to charity or purchase via AAdvantage Miles eShopping something then how long are the miles extended for?

  4. Jack I. Buck

    Both my wife and I have an American Airlines AAdvantage card. The primary account holder is my wife, Christine. We set it up this way soley to build her a credit rating. While most of our credit card purchases are made on my card, all of the miles are credited to her account. All our credit card purchases are made on these cards and many of them are made with your partners. My account was transfered from US Air and remains at approximately 42,000 miles. Your representative tells me that I cannot prevent it from expiring or merge it with my wife’s account without paying a fee unless I give 1000 miles away. Since my account came from US Air and I cannot add miles to it thur purchases, it seems grossly unfair.

  5. Mine! Mine! Miles!

    I signed up my wife and kids for the rewards network dining for their AA a/c respectively and used 3 different credit cards that are in my name. The miles are being credited to my wife’s a/c without a problem. However my kid’s AA mileage accounts are not showing their miles. All their AA dining rewards accounts are showing the dining activities although ‘pending’ is shown under status for the kids.

  6. gary

    How fast do the 4 miles from a Fandango movie rental get posted to my account? my miles expire in 3 days. What other option is the quickest to post to the AAdvantage account? Thanks in advance.

    1. D Williams

      I registered for AAdvantage Miles eShopping and use their portal the same day to spend $3 at The miles earned from this purchase posted to my AA Miles account in less that 48 hours.

  7. Marcos Rosa

    Let’s say my miles expire at the end of this year. Can I use them to book a flight for next year, if I make the purchase before the expiration date? Thank you.


      @Marcos Rosa: Yes – as long as you use your miles before the expiration date, you can use them for a flight on any available date.

      1. Stephanie

        No, Marcos, you cannot. I checked on this and also called. My miles expire mid Jan, 2018. I wanted to buy a ticket for 5/2018 and do it tonight. AA said that would not count toward saving my miles. Miles need to be physically added or subtracted from your account before the expiration date. Since I’m not flying till May (after my expiration date), that doesn’t count.

        I decided to donate 1000 miles to Miles for Kids instead.

    1. AA MillionMiler

      Yes, BUT AAdvantage will charge you FEE $27+ for a transfer minimum of 1000 Miles. The transfer FEE gets worse as miles go up!!!
      Further, the headache is not only signing onto your account and following AAdvantage offers to renew your expiring mile, but ALSO
      ==> ALLOW 60 DAYS or MORE for the Eligible Transaction to post BEFORE your mile Expiration Date, or you will go through more HEADACHES to call, write, and may still fail to lose all your hard-earned miles.

      Remember: AAdvantage is a PROFIT center, not a customer loyalty service center as it should.

  8. Vit

    Anyone ordered magazines from How long did it take to deduct miles?

    What are the good places to send the subscriptions to if I have an option?I was thinking about sending them to a library.

    1. NJ

      I had ordered a few magazines last year. It took less than two weeks to deduct miles. I don’t knw about libraries which would take these but I ordered a few to be delivered to aome friends and cousins.


      @Marius Rostad: Unfortunately, the iTunes deal is off – the current Apple deal is only available at the Apple Store. However, FandangoNow is an alternative to consider – renting a $1.99 movie can earn you 4 AAdvantage miles, and extend the expiration date of your current balance. The link and information is updated in this article.


          @Marius Rostad: According to the American Airlines AAdvantage® eShopping FAQ: “The miles will typically be posted to your account within 4 weeks (30 days) of the purchase date; however, there are times when it may take up to 8 weeks. Some exceptions do apply. See participating retailer offer information on the AAdvantage eShopping mall for complete information.”

        2. D Williams

          I registered for AAdvantage Miles eShopping and used their portal the same day to spend $3 at The miles earned from this purchase posted to my AA Miles account in less than 48 hours.

  9. Margy

    Can I use my airline credit card in my Dad’s shopping portal account so he doesn’t lose miles….he cancelled his only card

  10. Patricia Siqueira

    HI….. How is the fastest way to avoid expire miles, I need to do it before Sep 22nd. If i get a miles flight to anywhere and cancel later i would lose ? I got home and I juts realize the Advantage program do not accept call after 7pm CT. I bough a magazine subscription in my United acc is the same at AA or fast ? buy or donate ?


      @Gustavo – Should be pretty quick, since it’s miles coming out of your account, rather than waiting for someone to give you miles.

  11. HW

    My miles will expire in two weeks. If I use AA dining now, can I save my miles? Since the dining website says:
    “AAdvantage® miles will appear in your AAdvantage DiningSM account as soon as the transaction is registered by the restaurant, usually within 5 days.
    AAdvantage® miles earned through AAdvantage DiningSM will appear in your AAdvantage® account 6–8 weeks after the transaction occurs”

  12. John robertson

    I received a “Redeem your American Airlines AAdvantage miles” offer to purchase (via miles) some magazines so that the activity would keep my miles current. Its not listed under you “easiest ways” to keep miles so I am wondering if it is legit. Like some much stuff I get online, it has the right logo.


      @John – If it’s it is a legit site. Just make sure you order early enough for the miles to be deducted in time.

  13. Russell Wegner

    Question on

    2. Eat a meal at an AAdvantage partner restaurant

    My miles expire in 2 days.

    If I use it tomorrow, will it reset/ extend immediately? Or is there a delay?


  14. Susan

    My miles expire in 6 hrs. Can I reset the expiration by purchasing a ticket online even if my trip cancels?
    What is a good number to reach the AAdvantage program by phone? There is currently a 1 hr 45 min. wait time on the Reservations line.


      @Susan – Sorry to hear about that. Hopefully they got to you in time, but buying a ticket won’t give you miles until you fly. Booking a cheap ticket with miles though would reset the clock, though you’d be out the miles.

  15. Abe

    Some of these Q&A’s are very similar but not quite dead on. My rewards expire tomorrow. Can I fill up with gas using my AAdvange card and keep my points? I have 60K +. The sales rep said it would not post on time. But that doesn’t make sense, I made a purchase before deadline…. *** 2 days later: Logged in and my balance is ZERO***
    Can I fight this? Do I wait for things to post and then go through the process of reinstatement. Will I get penalized for reinstatement?


      @Abe – Strange that you have an AAdvantage credit card and your miles are expiring. The annual fee itself should keep that from being an issue.

  16. Amanda Mattinson

    I opened credit card so my miles wouldn’t expire used card my miles disappeared. Accounts were linked.

  17. Arlene Kotula

    I have 5800 miles and want to transfer to my granddaughters miles acct.
    will this cost me? how much? can I do this. and pay the cost of transfer with any card I have??


      @Arlene – It would cost around $60 to share 5,000 miles and you can pay for it with any card you have.

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. Shashi

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

  22. 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.

    1. D Williams

      I registered for AAdvantage Miles eShopping and used their portal the same day to spend $3 at The miles earned from this purchase posted to my AA Miles account in less than 48 hours.


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