If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you likely have a frequent flier account with one or more airlines. But did you know that your frequent flier miles can expire, sometimes without warning? Depending on the airline’s policy, any period of inactivity on your frequent flier account can leave your hard-earned frequent flier account empty, usually when you need those miles the most.

However, there are a variety of things you can do to keep your frequent flier miles from expiring. In fact, you likely already do things that could help you earn and protect your frequent flier miles and you may not even know it.


The Senator

The Senator (Photo credit: kjd)

If you have an airline credit card, this is the easiest way to keep your frequent flier miles from expiring. Even if you maintain a zero balance on the card, purchasing the occasional tank of gas or bag of groceries will help keep your account active.

If you don’t have an airline credit card and aren’t interested in getting one, making a purchase through an airline’s online shopping portal is another easy option that will keep your frequent flier miles from expiring.

Airline shopping portals are accessed through the airline’s website, and they usually offer a long list of retailers that allow frequent flyer program members to earn miles for purchases. So if you’re signing up for Netflix, making a charitable donation, or about to purchase an album on iTunes, don’t do it without checking your frequent flier program’s shopping partners first, because these retailers may help you earn and protect your miles.

Another way to keep your frequent flier account active is to make other travel-related purchases through the account. For example, if you’re renting a car, staying in a hotel, or going on a cruise, many frequent flier programs offer partnerships with other travel-related companies that help you earn miles and sometimes even offer discounts. That’s a win-win for both your bank account and your frequent flier miles.

Believe it or not, major purchase decisions like refinancing your home, taking out a mortgage, or starting a retirement fund can also help you earn frequent flier miles. Many top lenders partner with airlines to offer lower interest rates and frequent flier miles as a reward for choosing to invest with them. If you have a major purchase or investment coming up, check your frequent flier program to see what opportunities exist with partnering lenders.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can keep your frequent flier miles from expiring. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on your account as you would with any other monthly bill. That way, you have a chance to use your miles before you lose them.