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Has it been a long time since you last earned or used your United Airlines MileagePlus miles? If so, you are probably wondering when United miles expire and what you can do to keep them active besides flying. Here’s what you should know when wondering if United miles expire.

united miles expire
United Basic Economy check-in counter at ORD in fall 2019. Credit: Johnny Jet

When Do United Miles Expire?

United Airlines announced on August 28, 2019, that United miles will no longer expire—in most cases.

Previously, miles expired after 18 months of account inactivity. United required MileagePlus members to earn or redeem miles at least once every 18 months to reset the clock.

United’s policy change puts them in the same camp as Delta SkyMiles and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. Neither frequent flyer program expires their miles due to account inactivity.

While your miles no longer expire, it’s still a good idea to log into your account regularly and verify your email address. For good measure, you can also try earning miles at least once a year. If United can’t contact you, they may close your account by accident.

Related: Do Travel Airline Miles Expire?

When United Miles May Still Expire

There are several unique situations when the airline may cancel your miles.

The most likely situations include the following:

  • The member requests an account closure
  • Death of the MileagePlus member
  • Fail to respond to communications from United Airlines
  • Engage in prohibited activity

You can read the entire mileage expiration policy here.

Claiming Untracked Miles

It’s possible that you didn’t receive proper credit to your MileagePlus account for the following:

  • Star Alliance or partner flights
  • Non-partner flights
  • Economy Plus subscriptions

If so, you have 12 months from the flight date to file a missing credit claim.

Buy or Transfer United Miles

While you don’t have to worry about losing expiring miles, your mileage stash may not be useful if it’s not enough to book an award flight. Note that United lets you buy or transfer miles, but for a fee.

Transferring Miles

You can transfer from 500 to 100,000 miles to another MileagePlus account. It costs $7.50 per 500 miles plus a flat $30 processing fee per transaction. It’s pricey, but it can be better than seeing your miles vanish if you don’t anticipate using them for one reason or another.

Buying Miles

It’s also possible to buy miles for your account or for a friend. Plan on spending $35.00 per 1,000 miles (must buy at least 2,000 miles per order). You may wait for limited-time offers to receive bonus miles.

It’s possible to buy up to 175,000 United miles each year.

A more productive and cost-effective way to earn United miles without flying is to apply for one of the best United Airlines credit cards and make purchases. Each purchase earns miles and helps keep your account in good standing.

Other United Miles Changes

While United miles don’t expire, United has changed its award flight pricing in recent years. Although your miles can last a lifetime, you may need more miles to book an award flight. Below is a quick summary of some of the other United Airlines policies.

No More Award Chart

Since November 15, 2019, United no longer publishes its award chart for United-operated and partner airline flights. This means it will be harder to predict how many miles you will need to book an award flight. Most airlines use floating prices that reflect the current cash value of the ticket and demand for that particular route or flight.

You can still pay less when you can find a Saver Award ticket. Additionally, visiting the MileagePlus deals & offers page can also help you book discounted flights.

As always, you will still pay government fees and taxes for each flight. On most one-way domestic flights, it’s $5.60. This is standard practice with all airlines.

Free Family Seating

United stopped charging for adjacent family seats in Basic Economy and Standard Economy, with flights starting in late February 2023. It’s the first domestic airline to waive this fee for children younger than 12 years.

It’s also possible to switch flights that have eligible seats without paying change fees or fare differences.

No Close-In Booking Fee

All MileagePlus members no longer pay a close-in booking fee for award flights booked within 14 days of departure. This cash fee can make an award ticket feel less rewarding.

United still isn’t charging fuel charges on long-haul flights like many international airlines. However, you may encounter this charge on Lufthansa-operated flights to Europe.

Discount CLEAR Membership

If you think TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are the only ways to avoid long airport security lines, check out CLEAR. United started offering discounted and even free CLEAR membership for MileagePlus members.

The standard market price is $189 per year. Your price depends on your MileagePlus loyalty status:

  • MileagePlus Premier 1K: Free
  • MileagePlus Premier Silver, Gold, or Platinum: $149 per year
  • United Credit Cardmembers: $149 per year
  • All MileagePlus members: $179 per year

Even if you’re only a basic loyalty member, you still save $10 per year.

CLEAR is rolling out to more airports each year. You can learn more about whether TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or CLEAR is the best way to skip airport security lines. CLEAR is separate from TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

Your TSA PreCheck membership won’t let you access CLEAR.

Convert Marriott Bonvoy Points to United

Maybe you have Marriott Bonvoy hotel points that are more valuable as airline miles. If so, United has a special partnership to get 10% more miles than with the other airline partners. As the transfer ratio is 3:1.1 with the 10% bonus, every 3,000 points become 1,300 United miles.

You also receive 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer at once.

It’s also possible for MileagePlus Premier members to convert their miles to Bonvoy points at a 1:1 ratio.

Related: Do You Know About the Marriott Bonvoy Transfer Points Bonus?

Transfer Bilt Points to United

If you pay rent with the Bilt World Elite Mastercard®, you can transfer your points to United at a 1:1 ratio. Each point is worth 1.25 cents when booking a flight through the Bilt travel portal which can be a better offer.

Related: Is It Smart To Pay Rent With A Credit Card?

Earning United Miles

Although you no longer have the pressure to earn United miles every 18 months, you can still easily earn miles to book award flights more often. These are some of the best ways to acquire United miles without flying.

United Airlines Credit Cards

The co-brand United Airlines credit cards earn United miles on every $1 spent. These cards also waive the United Airlines checked baggage fees. Plus, you can get United Club lounge access. Premier members can also enjoy special perks like complimentary upgrades.

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards

These three Chase credit cards let you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to United:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the most rewarding of the three cards. Chase Sapphire Reserve® purchases earn up to 10x Ultimate Rewards. Cardholders can earn unlimited: 

  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals purchases through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 10x total points on Chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards
  • 5x total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 3x points on other travel worldwide (after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually)
  • 3x points on other dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out
  • 1x points for all remaining purchases

 You will not receive rewards points on your first $300 in annual travel purchases as the annual travel statement credit reimburses these purchases.

Read more in our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

MileagePlus Partner Purchases

You can also earn United miles by making purchases within your MileagePlus loyalty account:

  • Book United Airlines or partner airline flights
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals, limos, shuttles, cruises, etc.
  • Online retail shopping partners
  • Applying for loans  from financial partners
  • Purchase home services
  • Buying gift cards

The MileagePlus X mobile app can be the easiest way to find earning and redeeming opportunities.


Do United miles expire? Not anymore. Even though your miles don’t expire after 18 months, you should still try to redeem them as soon as possible as award flight prices may increase in the near future.

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