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American Airlines Revises AAdvantage Mileage Expiration Policy

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...

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American Airlines is changing when its AAdvantage mileage currency expires for members, and it’s not all bad news. Members will now find their miles expiring without activity within a 24-month period, and those with a co-branded American Airlines credit card will not have their miles expire so long as the card remains open.

American Extends Mileage Expiration to 24 Months

Previously, American Airlines expired customers’ miles when there was no activity within an 18-month period. Now, that period is extended to 24 months, and any qualifying activity within that period of time will reset the expiration clock.

Examples of qualifying activity include:

  • Flying on an American or partner flight and crediting that flight to AAdvantage
  • Using an AAdvantage Dining partner
  • Crediting your hotel stay to American and earning American miles for it
  • Spending American miles, whether on a flight or other product or service.

So long as you earn or redeem AAdvantage miles, your mileage expiration date will reset to 24 months from the activity date, which is certainly worth noting if you are an infrequent flyer.

Note that miles will only expire for customers who are older than 21.

American Airlines 777 Flagship Business Class middle seat
If you have qualifying activity within a 2-year period, your miles will not expire. This includes travel on American. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

No Expiration for AAdvantage Credit Cardholders

If you hold any AAdvantage credit card, whether issued through Barclays or Citi, your miles will never expire. This does not apply to authorized users on any credit card as only the primary cardholder’s AAdvantage number is tied to the card and account.

Should you close your co-branded credit card, you’ll have a 4-month grace period by which to use the miles in the linked AAdvantage account.

Why Does American Expire Miles?

American is unique in that it is one of the only U.S.-based airlines to expire miles — many airlines, such as Delta or United, have issued no-expiration policies, but American’s miles expire after 2 years. When an airline issues frequent flyer miles, those miles are a liability on the airline’s financial books. Because a mile can be used from anything from a cheap award far in advance to a same-day full-fare first class ticket, the miles come with a large financial unknown, and so anytime these miles are circulating on the marketplace, they become a liability for the airline.

When an airline can set a mileage expiration policy, the unused miles will be removed from the financial liability and there’s a constant cycle of miles expiring each and every year. That said, an airline does want to be mindful of changing travel patterns and customer engagement, so American is taking a middle-ground approach to extend the period by which a customer needs to have activity, but not fully create a no-expiration policy.

Final Thoughts

It’s nice to see American make this change, allowing more passengers to have time to travel or engage with the airline. While many passengers will not be impacted, since it is very easy to show activity within a 2-year window, these new changes create additional ways and time you can utilize to keep your miles from expiring.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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