Last updated on November 17th, 2021
Many airlines are moving towards rewards that work for – not against – their customers. United is the latest to join the fad, announcing this week that their miles will now never expire.
This Week Onwards, United Miles Don’t Expire
United Airlines’ MileagePlus® program is one of the most popular frequent flyer loyalty programs available today. Members of the program earn miles when they book flights through United or use their United Airlines co-branded credit cards to make purchases, either for flights or other travel-related purchases with United or other Star Alliance or other MileagePlus® partners. Until now, MileagePlus® miles expired after 18 months, which put them in line with American Airlines, whose AAdvantage® miles also expired after 18 months on no activity on the account. Earlier this week, however, United announced that moving forward, miles earned through their rewards program won’t expire, following in the footsteps of other leading American carriers, such as Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Delta SkyMiles. According to Luc Bondar, vice president of loyalty for United, the move was made to provide MileagePlus® members even more value for money. “Our MileagePlus program provides customers more ways to earn and use miles than any other US airline,” he stated in a release. “More customers used miles to book award trips in 2018 than in any year before, and we expect with today’s announcement that even more will use miles to travel the world in the years to come.” Bondar went on to state that providing lifelong miles is a “meaningful benefit” to show their commitment to member loyalty.
Why Do Airline Miles Expire?
With the news that United miles never expire, it’s essential to look at why airline miles expire in the first place. Airlines are a business. While this isn’t a controversial statement in the least, it goes a long way to explain why airline rewards miles expire. Airlines generally want their loyal customers to spend their miles because this means they don’t have to worry about unused miles as a liability on their accounts. Because airlines don’t account for reward miles in costs, they can add potentially significant expenditure to an airline’s end-of-year accounts, particularly if they accrue to the point of extravagant reward flights, such as around-the-world first class fares. The good news for those with frequent flyer miles is that a growing number of airlines – including United – are taking steps to ensure their customer’s miles don’t expire. Most airlines also delay the expiration of a reward member’s miles should they keep their account current. United, for instance, previously allowed points to expire after 18 months of inactivity, meaning all a member needed to do was keep their account active (either by earning, redeeming, transferring, etc.) their miles once every 18 months.
United Co-Branded Credit Cards
For those who are looking to get the most out of their United MileagePlus® program membership, United and Chase offer a variety of cards to suit every budget and travel need:
- United Club℠ Business Card
- United Club℠ Card
- United℠ Explorer Business Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United℠ TravelBank Credit Card