Beat the Expiration Date

beating airline miles expiration dates[trip style = any]

Most airline mileage program miles expire after 18 months.

At the Trip Styler headquarters, one of our many passions is maximizing travel and costs, so it kills us to see these miles go to waste. Having booked a bunch of trips with air miles, traveling for free is SUCH a rewarding feeling. Why lose an opportunity to fly South, attend a destination wedding or see aunty Erma in Edmonton?

The Good News It’s really easy to keep airline miles active, especially when you're loyal to one or two collecting programs. Even if you go through an 18-month period where you don’t board a plane, you can still collect miles from gas stations, grocery stores and hotels to keep your account active.

Though I always try and stick to one or two mileage collection programs, there are a few fringe programs I'm trying to keep active until I have enough miles for free travel. Here are the ways I'm keeping the airline miles active for each...

Last month I flew to NYC. Though I flew with Cathay Pacific, part of the One World Airline alliance as well as my secondary collecting program, I opted to get the miles on my Alaska Airlines mileage card because I'm just short of a free flight. I'm also a few miles short of a free flight with Flying Blue {program for Air France, KLM} and recently got a notification from my mile tracking app that my miles would expire soon. At first I thought I would transfer my Starwood Preferred Guest points to avoid expiration, but I was just short of the minimum transfer amount, so instead, I'll donate a small amount of miles to keep them active.

These experiences reminded me of some simple ways to keep airline mileage programs active...

Ways To Keep Airlines Miles Active

  • Get a mileage tracking app like PageOnce or mileBlaster.
  • Book a flight {just make sure your fare is eligible to collect miles}, or if you have any upcoming flights, see if they're elegible for miles on the program you're trying to save from expiration.
  • Transfer the points from your preferred hotel's loyalty program or travel rewards credit card to miles.
  • Stay: always check if your hotel stays are eligible for airline points. For example, when you sign up for Fairmont's free loyalty program, you can get miles toward your airline as well as toward free stays.
  • Shop: Don't forget that shopping at places like Safeway or Future Shop can get you AirMiles or Aeroplan miles. Likewise, putting gas in your tank can also give you miles.
  • Donate: almost all airline loyalty programs will allow you to donate your miles to keep the program active. Donating your miles and keeping them active = win win.

PS - Don’t discount a small number of points/miles. You can fly across the country and beyond with as little as 25,000 airline miles; in fact, this fall I’m flying from Vancouver to Aruba return for 25,000 miles {read how here}.

{photo by Benjamin Griffiths}