You should always sign up for airline frequent flyer programs. First of all, it’s free. In addition, having your information on file with the airline saves time when making a reservation. You can also put your Known Traveler Number (KTN) into your profile if you have enrolled for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry, which you should do if you travel even somewhat regularly.
Here are links to the major US airlines’ loyalty programs along with how long the miles you earn are good for. Note that while many plans will claim your miles will “never expire,” they will deactivate your account, thereby causing you to lose any miles earned, if you don’t have a qualifying activity within a certain time frame.
ALASKA AIRLINES – Mileage Plan
To keep your account active you need to have activity in it every 2 years, either by earning or redeeming miles. Doing so will keep your miles from being removed from your account.
Mileage Plan Miles do not expire. However, Mileage Plan accounts that are inactive for two years or more are deactivated and must be reactivated in order to access Mileage Plan Miles in such accounts. Activity in an account includes redeeming a Mileage Plan award or accruing mileage in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program.
A deactivated Mileage Plan account can be reactivated, and any miles in the deactivated account can be reinstated, for up to a year after deactivation. If your Mileage Plan account is locked due to inactivity, simply call customer care to verify your identity, and they’ll reactivate the account for you at no charge. If a deactivated Mileage Plan account is not reactivated within 1 year after deactivation (3 years after your last qualifying activity), it may not be reactivated in the future, and all Mileage Plan miles previously associated with that account will be forfeited.
ALLEGIANT AIR – Allways Rewards
While Allegiant’s previous program didn’t award points for flying on the airline, the new Allways program works like most other loyalty programs. You’ll earn points based on how much you spend on your ticket or travel package.
Points expire after 24 months of inactivity. Activity is defined by making a booking while being logged in to your Allways account, or booking over the phone with your Allways ID Number.
If you are an active Allegiant World Mastercard® holder your points will not expire as long as your card account is open. For more information on the Allegiant World Mastercard click here.
AMERICAN AIRLINES – AAdvantage
To keep your Aadvantage miles active, you need to earn or redeem miles at least once every 18 months.
Effective March 1, 2022, AAdvantage® members must have mileage earning or redeeming activity once every 24 months, or be the primary holder of an open AAdvantage® credit card account associated to their AAdvantage® account, in order to retain their miles.
AAdvantage® members may reactivate AAdvantage® miles by paying a reactivation fee determined by the number of miles to be reactivated. Eligible AAdvantage® members can find the fee amounts at aa.com/reactivatemiles. AAdvantage® mileage will only be eligible for reactivation if done so within 24 months of the date of expiration.
DELTA AIRLINES – SkyMiles
Delta SkyMiles don’t expire and Delta doesn’t require any activity in your account to keep miles active. Here are the only restrictions listed on their website (this is a very customer-friendly policy compared to most other airlines):
Under the SkyMiles Mileage Expiration policy, miles do not expire. Delta reserves the right to deactivate or close an account under the following circumstances
- Fraudulent activity occurs
- A member requests an account closure
- A member is deceased
- A member does not respond to repeated communication attempts regarding the status of his/her account
- A member resides in or relocates to a country where membership is prohibited under applicable law
- A member violates the terms of this Membership Guide and Program Rules
FRONTIER AIRLINES – FRONTIER Miles
In order to keep your Frontier Miles active, you need to earn miles every six months. According to the airline, this is easy to do…..just get their credit card and your miles will never expire.
Mileage in a Member’s account does not expire so long as the Member generates accrual activity every six months; this includes any purchase activity on the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard. Unredeemed mileage accumulated in your account will expire at the end of the six-month period after your last accrual activity date. Other account activity, such as redeeming or other miscellaneous adjustments, will not extend your expiration date.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES – HawaiianMiles
As of April 12, 2021, HawaiianMiles never expire.
Effective immediately, HawaiianMiles are no longer subject to activity-based expiration. So the miles earned through flights and with our HawaiianMiles Partners will remain available for members whenever they are ready to use them.
JETBLUE AIRWAYS – TrueBlue
You don’t require any account activity to keep your TrueBlue points active. These are the only requirements on the JetBlue website:
TrueBlue Points do not expire. Should a Member close his or her TrueBlue account, the Points in that account will be terminated. As set forth in these Program Rules, JetBlue has the right to cancel all or some of the Points in a TrueBlue Member’s Account should JetBlue determine, in its sole discretion, that the Member has violated these Rules or otherwise engaged in fraud, misrepresentation, abuse or other improper conduct.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES – Rapid Rewards®
Southwest points never expire.
Points do not expire. Should a Member close its account, the points in the account will be terminated.
SPIRIT AIRLINES – Free Spirit
Can I mention I think that this is probably the only time “Free” and “Spirit” are used in the same sentence about the airline?
You’ll need to earn or redeem points once every 12 months to keep your account active. This is much better than the previous 3 month requirement.
Points don’t expire as long as you continue to earn or redeem with Spirit or with Free Spirit partners within 12 months, or if you’re a Free Spirit member with an open Free Spirit Credit Card account.
SUN COUNTRY AIRLINES – Sun Country Rewards
You need to have account activity once every three years to keep your miles from expiring.
Sun Country Rewards points expire 36 months after the date earned
UNITED AIRLINES – MileagePlus
United miles no longer expire.
Mileage accrued in a Member’s account shall be maintained in the account until it is redeemed for an award or until it is otherwise forfeited pursuant to (a) these Rules, United’s Contract of Carriage or United’s fare rules, (b) Prohibited Conduct, (c) applicable laws or regulations, (d) Member requested account closure, (e) the death of a Member or (f) the failure of a Member to respond to repeated communication attempts regarding the status of his/her account.
If you’re starting out, I’d recommend signing up for an account with all of the airlines you normally fly with. You don’t lose anything by having the account. This is also a good time to get started with a program, such as AwardWallet, to keep all of your account information together in one place.
Over the past few years, several airlines including United, Southwest and Hawaiian have done away with mileage expiration. The ones that do have expiration policies have loosened the restrictions for keeping miles active. With almost every program, if you’re not taking a flight, you could earn points with a dining program, shopping portal or even by buying points (only as a last resort and/or if you’ll be losing a large number of points). I try never to let points expire if I can help it.
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