For some people, their travels are directly based on how many points and miles they have. I mean, I know that we definitely wouldn’t have stayed in some of the hotels, or flown some of the flights we have, if not for the points and miles Joe has creatively earned. So the least thing you want is to lose them.
There are some ways to lose your frequent flyer miles that you have no control over. But there are others that happen specifically because of what you do…or don’t do. Here’s how to avoid that.
Your miles in some frequent flyer programs never expire. In others, they expire after a certain amount of time of non-usage; that amount varies from program to program. Some airlines say their points never expire; here’s what they really mean when they say that.
Here’s a list of how long you have with a bunch of the U.S.-based airlines. It was accurate before coronavirus hit; policies for each airline may or may not be different now. And here and here are a couple of ways to stop your miles from expiring.
If you’re a pain
The airlines giveth and the airlines taketh away. They make the rules and if you’re a pain, you could pay for it. This case made it all the way to the Supreme Court – a frequent flyer filed 24 complaints about small issues over the course of 6 months, so the airline kicked him out of their program. He fought it and it went to the Supreme Court. He lost. Don’t be a pain.
You sold your miles
Although you earn your miles, they’re not really yours; they belong to the airline. So they’re not yours to sell. Every program’s rules and conditions include a clause about not being allowed to sell your miles. So if you do and you’re caught, chances are good your miles won’t be yours anymore. How can you avoid this? Don’t sell your frequent miles; they don’t belong to you.
Trying to cheat the system
Frequent flyer miles are intended for people, and only people. Professional cellist Lynn Harrell found that out the hard way. For years he had bought seats for both him and his $5 million, nearly 300-year-old cello. “Cello Harrell” would get its own boarding pass and even collected frequent-flier miles in its own account. Delta warned him about this in 2001 but he kept doing it. So Delta took back all of his cello’s miles, and his, and permanently kicked them out of the SkyMiles program.
Bottom line: if something is against the airline’s terms and conditions, don’t do it.
If they’re hacked
This is the one instance where you have very little control over losing your miles, but if you’re aware it’s happening, at least you can try to recoup them in a timely manner. Scammers have been obtaining passengers’ frequent flyer miles for several years now. And unfortunately, between data breaches and hacking, they’re good at it. Worse yet, if you dont check your accounts, you might not even know it’s happened for weeks, months or even years.
You can reduce your risk of being targeted with frequent flyer fraud by using strong passwords that you change often, and using two-factor identification. And never do this with your boarding pass. AND make sure to keep track of your frequent flyer miles – here’s a super easy way to do that.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary