It drives me nuts when I hear stories about people missing out on free travel because of expired [or unearned] points and miles. To help others who might be on the brink of an expiring points and miles crisis, I’ve compiled a list of 36 easy ways to prevent your precious points and miles from expiring. Oh, and I should mention that these are not only ways to “prevent” miles and points from expiring, but in most cases you’re earning more too!
And now on with the list…
- Sign Up for a Frequent Flyer Account: (I’m hoping we’ve all reached this level by now) Miles unaccounted for are automatically expired miles.
- Sign Up for a Hotel Rewards Program: If you’re staying at a hotel and not receiving points, you already have expired points. Don’t let that be you.
- Track Your Mile/Point Balances: When you’re diligently tracking your balances, they’re not expiring, right? I personally enjoy tracking all of my balances in one place with AwardWallet.
- Fly: That’s easy, isn’t it? Not only are you earning miles on your paid ticket, but you’re also restarting the expiration clock. +2
- Stay at a Hotel: Points 101 – this one is pretty self explanatory.
- Rent a Car: You can receive credit for car rentals directly with the rental company’s rewards program, or even your preferred airline or hotel program.
- Take a Cruise: Some airlines (example: US Airways) allow you to earn bonus miles while cruising.
- Open a Credit Card Account for the Bonus: I am a huge fan of lucrative sign-up bonuses. Take a look at the “My Travel Credit Cards” tab and see why.
- Open a Checking Account: Some banks run promotions from time to time that allow you to earn bonus airline miles or hotel points when you open a new account (current example: American Airline’s BankDirect).
- Use a Travel Credit Card on Everyday Purchases: Whether it’s a co-branded card like the Starwood American Express, or a card with many partner transfer options like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa (hint: those are my two favorite credit cards), those points surely add up and keep your balances active.
- Open an Investment Account: Occasionally we’ll see offers with lucrative bonuses when you open an investment account (current example: up to 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles with Fidelity).
- Get an Auto Insurance Quote: We all have shopped for auto insurance one way or another. Why not keep your account balances active by keeping your eye out for promotions that allow you to actually earn miles just by getting a quote? (current example: 300 DeltaSkyMiles for requesting a quote with 21st-Century Insurance).
- Prepare Your Taxes: Taxes. As much as we hate doing them, we all have to. Did you know you can earn miles just by preparing your own taxes? This is a great way to keep your miles and points active. This past tax season there were several great bonus-mile promotions with H&R Block and TurboTax. Let’s hope those offers are in store for us again next season.
- Shop Online: I never ever buy anything online without checking EVReward beforehand. 99% of the time you can earn miles and points from your online purchases by going through an airline or hotel shopping portal.
- Buy Gift Cards: If you’re coming close to your account’s expiration date, you can buy gift cards to stores you’ll know you’ll frequent (example: Home Depot, Walmart, Starbucks, etc.) with your travel credit card or through an airline/hotel shopping portal.
- Buy an MP3 from iTunes: Apple iTunes is a merchant on most shopping portals, so buying just one song for as little as 99 cents can keep your points and miles accounts active.
- Buy a Restaurant.com Gift Certificate: This is another cheap an easy way to keep miles and points from expiring for only a couple of bucks. Restaurant.com is a merchant on most shopping portals as well, and you can usually use a discount coupon code to get $25 Restaurant.com gift certificates for as low as $1 or $2.
- Answer Audience Rewards Trivia Questions: These two-pointer Audience Rewards questions are not something I do on a regular basis, but they’re a quick and free way to keep your points alive.
- Join e-Miles: E-Miles is an easy way to earn miles for taking short surveys.
- Join e-Rewards: Earn e-Rewards currency (which can be converted to points and miles) by participating in longer online marketing research studies.
- Register Your Credit Card with the Thanks Again Program: Thanks Again is an easy way to earn points and miles when you dine, park, and shop at the airport.
- Subscribe to a Magazine: If your balance is getting close to its expiration date, you can redeem a couple of hundred of miles for a magazine subscription through your account.
- Get DirectTV or Netflix: Many television and movie-streaming providers offer bonus miles for new customers (current example: Delta is offering 2,500 free miles for new Netflix subscriptions.
- Join a Dining Program: Such an easy way to earn extra bonus miles just by dining out!
- Join a Wine Club: This is a no-brainer for me. 12 wines for $6.99 a bottle and free shipping? I’m sold. Plus those bonus miles are the icing on the cake (current example: earn 1,000 bonus US Airways Dividend Miles when you join Vinesse).
- Do Searches with an Airline Toolbar: Sometimes keeping our miles and points active is as easy as performing searches via a specific toolbar installed on our browsers. You’ll only earn around 2 miles per search, but this is a great way to keep those points alive (current example: American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping Toolbar).
- Make a Small Transfer on Points.com: Though the transfer ratios on Points.com are pretty awful, it might make sense to transfer the very minimum between your award accounts to keep one account from expiring. By very minimum, I mean less than 100 miles.
- Transfer Between Accounts: Some programs allow you to transfer your points and miles between accounts freely, and others allow you to transfer them within your household (or same address). These transfers are a great way to keep your account active. I recently transferred some almost-expiring SPG Starpoints from my account to Dad’s in order to “save them”.
- Join an Airline-Specific Daily Deal Site: Some Airlines have rolled out their own “Groupon-like” daily deal sites as a way for members to earn miles (and keep them from expiring) (current example: US Airways Dividend Miles Daily Deals).
- “Check in” with Topguest: For those who social-media savvy, you can earn points from Topguest just by “checking-in” at airports and hotels.
- Participate in Social Media Promotions: Part of what keeps the crazy world of points “fun” are those sponteanous “free points” promotions that pop up via social media (current example: 100 Free American Airlines Miles – Summer Miles Challenge).
- Sign Up to Receive Promotional Emails: I know we all hate receiving unnecessary emails, but when our points and miles are on the line, we often bite the bullet and do crazy things. You’ll sometimes receive bonus points and miles just by signing up for promotional emails (current example: earn up to 500 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles by subscribing to some emails).
- Send Flowers: Brighten someone’s day with fresh flowers. Virtually all of the airline and hotel shopping portals have either 1-800 Flowers, FTD, or Teleflora as a merchant. Don’t have someone special to send them to? No problem – I like sunflowers.
- Sign Up for Mobile Offers: Many airline and hotel programs will award bonus miles if you opt-in to receive occasional text offers (current example: related post).
- Sign Up for a “Re-Engagement” Challenge: Oh no, your miles expired! Now what? Luckily for us, some programs offer a “forgiveness act”, or way for us to complete a challenge to get our miles back (related post: How to Get Your Expired American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Back).
- Redeem Your Miles for an Award: This is the fun way to keep your miles and points active. Are your miles about to expire? Use them! Redeeming your points and miles for free travel will keep your account active… and you’ll have a fun trip to look forward to. +2
What steps have you’ve taken to prevent your points and miles from expiring? Please feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments, as I will be updating this list frequently as new tips come in. With your help, we can continuously let this list grow with innovative ways to keep our accounts active. Happy points and miles collecting!