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If you have a stock of American Airlines miles saved up — possibly even from pre-pandemic days — you may be wondering if and when those miles expire. After all, you earned them, so you probably want to make sure you put them to good use on award travel.
So when do American Airlines miles expire? Read on to find out, plus how to keep them from disappearing, even if you’re not flying in the immediate future.
American Airlines AAdvantage Miles expiration overview
American Airlines’ AAdvantage mile expiration protocols sit somewhere in the middle of the user-friendly spectrum: Miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity. Compare that to Spirit Airlines’ 12-month expiration and Frontier’s 6-month deadline, and American comes out looking pretty generous. But when you consider that Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines miles never expire, 24 months starts seeming a little stingy.
Fortunately, if all those miles in your account are set to expire soon, you still have options to keep them in play. You can always fly with American or one of its partner airlines to keep your miles from expiring.
But if you’re not planning travel, there are plenty of other ways to keep your account active and extend that deadline. Here’s how to keep American Airlines miles from expiring.
Earn or redeem miles on American or with an AAdvantage partner at least once every 24 months by flying or making a purchase with an airline partner, including participating hotels, car rental companies, co-branded credit cards, telecommunication providers, shopping, dining and more. Just take a look at these 30+ ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
AAdvantage credit card holders are not subjected to the 24-month expiration date for as long as their card account is open (after closing an account, your miles will expire either 4 months from account closure or 24 months from the latest qualifying activity, whichever is later).
You can also reactivate up to 500,000 expired AAdvantage miles within 24 months of their expiration by paying a reactivation fee. The cost is determined by the number of miles you wish to reactivate. It's worth noting that these miles won’t count toward elite status.
AAdvantage members under 21 years of age are excluded from the normal expiration rules.
When can American Airlines close your AAdvantage account?
Just because miles expire doesn’t mean your account will be closed, even if expiration leaves you with a zero balance. In fact, several things have to happen in order for American Airlines to close your AAdvantage account entirely.
If you have zero miles, exceed 36 months of no earning or redeeming activity, don’t have an AAdvantage credit card, and don’t have lifetime benefits (like Million Miler or Lifetime AirPass), the airline has the right to terminate your account.
But as long as you meet at least one of the above criteria, your account is safe and will remain open.
» Learn more: Your guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage program
How to earn American miles quickly
If you’re worried about miles expiring or want to earn a bunch of AAdvantage miles in a short amount of time, an AAdvantage credit card may be the way to go, especially since cardholder miles never expire as long as the account remains open and in good standing.
American offers several credit card options depending on your credit and goals.
American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® (annual fee: $0): Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn 2 miles for every dollar spent at grocery stores and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants and on American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on everything else, plus 1 Loyalty Point for every eligible mile earned from purchases so you can reach elite status faster.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (annual fee: $595): Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 4 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, 10 miles per dollar on eligible car rentals and hotels booked through American Airlines, and 1 mile on other purchases. You'll also earn 1 Loyalty Point for every dollar spent on purchases and 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after you reach 50,000 and 90,000 Loyalty Points in a qualifying status year. The most notable perk is an Admirals Club membership.
» Learn more: Which American Airlines credit card should you get?
Final thoughts on expiring American miles
You can generally avoid AA mile expiration because of the airline’s relatively generous 24-month expiration window. Plus, there are plenty of ways to keep those miles active — even if you’re not planning on flying in the near future. Keep your AAdvantage miles from expiring and still enjoy award travel down the road.
Photo courtesy of American Airlines.
The information related to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card