United surprised us with a pretty generous announcement: Starting today, United miles will no longer expire. That’s right — you no longer have to worry about losing your miles because you didn’t keep your MileagePlus account active over the last 18 months.
This announcement was made on the heels of news that United is doing away with its award chart for travel starting on Nov. 15, 2019. What does this mean for MileagePlus members? For now, we can mostly speculate.
» Learn more: United Airlines MileagePlus program: The complete guide
1. The new policy is effective immediately
The great news about United’s no-expiration policy is that it’s immediate. So if you have a stash of miles that were on the verge of expiring pretty soon, you’re officially off the hook.
2. You have one less thing to worry about...
Overall, the news that United MileagePlus miles no longer expire is positive, since miles previously expired after 18 months of inactivity. To keep your account active, you’d have to earn or redeem miles via flights, shopping portal earnings or rental car bookings, for example.
Now, none of those restrictions apply. It’s definitely good news for people who aren’t great at tracking their miles and don’t like to worry about maintaining active status in multiple rewards programs.
3. ...but it’s not all sunshine and roses
The news that United miles don’t expire could eventually have negative ramifications. Historically, when a rewards currency has flooded the market (e.g., via big credit card sign-up bonuses, points sales, etc.), points and miles experts start to worry about a devaluation of the currency.
United has already announced the removal of its public award chart starting Nov. 15, 2019. Our concern is that since miles can no longer expire, United will try to remove them from the market through higher redemption rates and further devaluations. Time will tell.
4. This is likely just a competitive move
Still, these concerns could be unfounded. After all, United is following in the footsteps of Delta and JetBlue in removing mileage expiration dates. United has often followed Delta’s lead on policy changes like award chart removal, revenue-based elite qualification and now, points expiration. Maybe this is just a continuation of that trend.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
5. This policy could change
While United’s new non-expiration policy is exciting news, they could renege on it any time. In the reward travel space, things change often — when a company’s bottom line is affected, policies can change accordingly. Whether you’re happy or nervous about United’s new policy, keep in mind that it could change again if things don’t go according to United’s plans.
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