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One of the worst things that can happen to your American Airlines AAdvantage loyalty account is having your miles expire. After 24 months of account inactivity, your American Airlines miles expire. But it’s easier than you may think to keep your miles from expiring.

JFK to LAX on AA in First. Credit: Johnny Jet

When Do American Airlines Miles Expire?

Your American Airlines miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity. Once every 24 months, you must earn or redeem AAdvantage miles for qualifying purchases. Each time you complete an activity, the countdown clock resets for your entire balance.

There are two exceptions to keep AAdvantage miles from expiring:

However, the clock starts ticking once you turn 21 or close your AAdvantage credit card account.

Maybe, American Airlines will follow suit as both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines miles no longer expire. Delta SkyMiles also never expire.

So far, the world’s largest airline has extended its expiration policy from 18 months to 24 months. This change became effective in early 2022.

Reinstating American Airline Miles

If your miles do expire, American Airlines lets you reinstate up to 500,000 miles. But you will pay a one-time fee. This fee is as little as $40 if you’re reinstating up to 2,000 miles. However, you might pay as much as $2,000 to reinstate between 250,001 and 500,000 miles.

Is it worth it? Yes, if the fee is less than the cash value for the award ticket you have in mind.

You will need to log into your AAdvantage account or call American Airlines customer service to request reinstatement. Your reactivated miles are active for another 24 months before they are at risk of expiring again.

Earning Miles

Acquiring more American Airlines miles might be easier than redeeming miles to prevent your miles from expiring. After all, most miles expire because flyers don’t have enough to redeem for an award flight.

Fly American Airlines

You can earn miles by flying American or a oneworld alliance partner. These partners include British Airways, Qantas, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and others.

Get an American Airlines Credit Card

Another way to make sure your American Airlines miles never expire is to own an American Airlines credit card. American partners with Citi and Barclays to issue co-brand airline credit cards for personal and business travel.

Fortunately, there are cards that have no annual fee. By making small purchases regularly, your miles may never expire. If you’re a casual American Airlines flyer, these credit cards can be your best option.

If you’re interested in no-annual fee cards with more flexibility, check out our review of the best no-annual-fee travel cards.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

The information for the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® has no annual fee.

  • Cardholders earn:
    • 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services
    • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
    • 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
    • 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible mile earned from purchases

You get 25% in-flight savings for food and beverage purchases when you fly American Airlines.

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

This card is a better option if you check a bag. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® earns 2x miles for American Airlines, restaurants, and gas stations spending. All remaining purchases earn 1 mile per $1.

Because this card has a $99 annual fee ($0 for the first 12 months), you get the most mileage from this card by flying on American at least once a year and checking a bag. Your first checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation. This benefit alone can be worth more than the card’s annual fee for a round-trip.

You also get a 25% savings for in-flight food and beverage purchases. Plus, you can earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card membership year and renew your card.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® if you want a premium travel credit card. This card is worth its weight alone as you get complimentary Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you. The card’s annual fee is $595 versus paying for a standalone lounge membership.

Other notable benefit card benefits include the first checked bag is free for you and up to 8 companions, and getting 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 in a qualifying year.

You can also enjoy an enhanced airport experience and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. Cardholders earn 4x AAdvantage® miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases.

New Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® cardholders can earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, enjoy a complimentary Admirals Club® membership (a value of up to $850).

Buy Miles

Another way to keep your miles from expiring is by buying American Airlines miles. Periodically, American Airlines may offer special promotions. You can buy up or gift to another up to 150,000 combined miles each calendar year.

AAdvantage Dining Program

Like other airline and hotel loyalty programs, you can earn American Airlines miles by dining at select restaurants, bars, and clubs. To earn the miles, pay with your linked credit or debit card.

You can link up to 6 credit cards and earn up to 5 miles per $1 if you dine regularly. These bonus miles are in addition to anything you earn with a co-brand American Airlines credit card.

Check out the best credit cards for restaurants and dining if this is something of interest.

Shop AAdvantage Retail Partners

You can earn bonus miles by making online purchases at the various AAdvantage eShopping mall partners. Link one of the best credit cards for online shopping to your purchases to boost your point-earning opportunity.

Over 950 brands offer bonus American Airlines miles. It’s easy to maximize your daily purchases. Here some of the best ways to earn the most miles with your purchases:

  • Book hotel nights at IHG (3 miles per $1)
  • Shop at high-end retailers like Macy’s or Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th (Up to 10 miles per $1)
  • Switch home internet or cable TV providers (Up to 5,000 miles)
  • Order flower delivery from FTD (20 miles per $1)
  • Buy broadway tickets at Audience Rewards (Up to 2,200 miles per ticket)

It’s also possible to earn bonus miles by applying for new loans, taking online surveys, or selling your home.

Redeeming American Airlines Miles

Using your miles for award flights on American Airlines and partner flights or other rewards also prevents your points from expiring. In general, your points are most valuable when redeeming for award flights. Here are 7 best ways to redeem American Airlines Miles for maximum value.

Award Flights

Flights shorter than 500 miles within the continental U.S. and Canada only cost 7,500 miles (plus fees and taxes). Longer flights cost 12,500 miles each way for the main cabin flight.

A one-way flight in the main cabin can cost the following amount:

  • Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Alaska: 15,000 miles
  • Hawaii: 22,500 miles
  • Europe: 30,000 miles
  • Asia: 35,000 miles
  • South Pacific: 40,000 miles

You can also use your miles to upgrade your travel reservation.

However, the airline is retiring its MileSAAver award chart this year and moving to its Web Special awards which have variable pricing. Thankfully, American Airlines still pledges to publish an award chart for the flights it operates and for partner airlines.

Related: Several Incoming American Airlines AAdvantage Changes For 2023

Admirals Club

If you have always wondered what it’s like to step inside an Admirals Club airport lounge, now you can. You can buy a pass with cash or points. A new individual annual pass costs 65,000 miles for AAdvantage members. A new household pass costs 125,000 miles.

Cars, Hotels, and Vacations

Another travel redemption option is exchanging your American Airlines miles for hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages. Your points are likely to be worth less than 1 cent each.

For example, you might pay 19,300 miles to spend one night at a Hotel Indigo in Asheville, NC. Or, you pay $128 cash for the same room. At this rate, using your miles can be better than letting them expire. But you should try booking an award flight first if you want to get the most value.

Charity Donations

You can also donate balances larger than 1,000 to select charities. If your balance is less than 1,000, you will need to donate your entire balance.


American Airlines miles expire every 24 months when you don’t add or redeem miles. Doing one of the above activities preserves your remaining account balance. If you want peace of mind, you may consider getting a co-brand American Airlines credit card that earns AAdvantage miles on every purchase.

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