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Fliers, Rejoice: Your United Miles Will Never Expire

By Katherine LaGrave

08.28.19

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Fliers no longer have to worry about their miles expiring; the change is effective immediately.

Photo by Digital Media Pro/Shutterstock

Fliers no longer have to worry about their miles expiring; the change is effective immediately.

Like JetBlue and Delta, the airline is now allowing fliers to keep those miles indefinitely.

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Good news: You’ll no longer have to spend your United MileagePlus miles on a gift card, just to make sure they don’t expire. On Wednesday, the Chicago-based airline announced that effective immediately, the miles you’ve earned will be good—forever.

“We want to demonstrate to our members that we are committing to them for the long-haul and giving customers a lifetime to use miles is an exceptionally meaningful benefit,” said Luc Bondar, vice president of loyalty and president of MileagePlus at United, in a press release. “Our MileagePlus program provides customers more ways to earn and use miles than any other U.S. airline. 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.”

Before the change, Mileage Plus miles would expire if there was account “inactivity” for 18 months, reports CNBC. (Qualifying activities are broad, including making a purchase with a United credit card or buying something through the United shopping portal.) 

With the move, United is now aligned with competitors Delta and JetBlue, both of which allow fliers to keep miles indefinitely. American Airlines, meanwhile, still has an “18-month” rule, where AAdvantage miles expire without account activity. Other U.S. powerhouses—Alaska and Southwest—also have mile expiration in their respective programs but after a period of two years. 

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In addition to changing its policy around mile expiration, however, United is also making it harder to see how much those miles can get you: As Lyndsey Matthews previously reported for AFAR, on November 15, the carrier is eliminating its award chart, which shows how many miles are necessary for travel between certain regions. Instead, the redemption rates will be dynamic, changing with demand and season. 

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