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Expiring Frequent Flyer Miles? Don’t Lose Them! Use Them!

If you’re like most people, you choose the cheapest flight when you are traveling and don’t always have brand loyalty. Many people don’t see a reason in this case to sign up for an airlines frequent flyer programs, assuming they’ll never earn enough for free flights, however you could be surprised at how fast miles add up. Free flights aren’t the only way to use frequent flyer miles, nor is flying the only way to earn frequent flyer miles. 

Every airline has their own parameters on their loyalty program and it can be confusing to keep it all straight. Signing up for email updates is one way to keep in touch with any changes or alerts for mileage expiring. If you’ve gotten word that your miles will expire soon – here are a few ways to keep them active, most of which are free!

Go Shopping!

Chances are you shop online anyway. But, did you know many airlines also have shopping portals where you can earn miles for things you’re going to buy anyway. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but you get the bonus. Earn extra “rewards” when you purchase something like a flower delivery. You get miles, activity in your frequent flyer account, and points with that special someone! 

Book a Hotel stay with a partner programHotel Stays

There are two ways to earn miles from hotel stays. The first is through programs that are linked together such as Hilton and American Airlines (and many others). The other is through special websites like Rocketmiles. This is an interesting program. You can use it to seek out hotel rooms wherever you go and earn extra miles depending on where you stay. For example, I recently looked to book a hotel in New York City for three nights. Not only did the site give me a rate that was on par with other booking engines but I was able to earn an average of 7,000 miles on American Airlines for my stay.  

Want to try Rocketmiles? When you sign up with this link and make your first stay you’ll get a bonus 1,000 miles!

Try Rocketmiles


We find that we are far better off cashing out our miles to supermarket vouchers with the Qantas frequent flier program. We then use it for our groceries and use our grocery money for flights. We find that the taxes and charges we are charged on top of using our points for flights usually cost more than flying with a budget airline on the same route anyway so it’s really not worth it for us to use the points for flights.
Sharon of  Where’s Sharon

Gift Cards

In Canada, AirMiles and Aeroplan points have been the dominant points programs for years. They can be collected at many stores, as well as with credit cards. However, we have never cashed them in for flights. We use them primarily for gift cards, whether it be fuel, Costco or gifts for Christmas, cashing them out this way has always been a better deal for us than using them to book a flight!

Lindsay of Carpediemourway.com

Magazines and Charity Donations

To keep my miles valid/active, I often use some of the miles for a magazine subscription. It is an “inexpensive” way to keep my account from disappearing altogether. I’ve done this mainly with American, Delta, and United, though some other airlines also have this option.

One other way to keep your miles active is to donate some to a charity. Many airline sites have their own special charities that you can just click and donate to. I was able to do this with some useless-to-me miles I had on Icelandic.

Carole of Travels with Carole

give a donation to a charity


Many programs have a dining program attached to their frequent flyer program. Again, this doesn’t cost you anything extra and you earn miles while keeping your already earned miles active. For example with the American Airlines dining program you simply input your usual payment card and then anytime you dine in a participating restaurant and use that card to pay the extra miles are added to your account. 

Mile Giveaways

I’ve had a few emails lately from different airline flying programs I participate in offering free miles for participating in a program or survey. There are a wide variety of different ways they offer these miles and you likely won’t earn thousands of miles but even a 500 mile deposit can help keep your account active. 

If you haven’t used frequent flyer miles or aren’t sure how to get started, this comprehensive post from Travel with Bender is a great resource! 

Use them don't lose them! How to keep your expiring frequent flyer miles.

These are just a few ways to make sure your miles stay active and you don’t lose out! Do you have other tips or great frequent flyer mile stories? Share them in the comments!

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