Do United MileagePlus Miles Expire?

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Yes, United MileagePlus miles expire if you have no activity on your account for an 18-month period. Per the MileagePlus program rules,

Any Member who fails at any time to engage in Account Activity (as defined in Rule 11 above) for a period of eighteen (18) consecutive months is subject to termination of such Member’s membership and/or forfeiture of all accrued mileage. United may, but shall have no obligation to, send a Member a notification of miles nearing expiration.


Rule 11 is defined as:

“Account Activity” shall be deemed to occur when a Member either (a) accrues mileage in such Member’s account in any manner recognized by the Program, including without limitation the use of a MileagePlus credit card, or (b) redeems any MileagePlus or Partner (as defined in Rule 12 below) award by the use of mileage in the Member’s account. In cases where mileage is for any reason removed from an account, as for example the redemption of an award, and there is a subsequent cancellation of the award or removal of miles and a redeposit of the miles to the Member’s account, the cancellation of the award or removal and redeposit of the mileage to the account shall not qualify as “Account Activity.” Neither United’s correction of mileage in an account nor Prohibited Conduct shall qualify as Account Activity.

In summary, Rule 11 defines “Account Activity” is defined as earning, redeeming, and buying or transferring miles. Any of these actions will keep your miles and United account active and current.

How Do I Earn United MilagePlus Miles?

Earning miles with United MileagePlus is very easy—there are so many ways to pick up miles and bonus miles that keeping your account alive through earning has never been easier. Some of the ways you can earn miles are as follows:

The above list is by no means exhaustive but showcases the most common ways you can earn United miles. You can also pick up miles with United’s financial partners and for utility services.

Redeeming MileagePlus Miles

United offers many options for redeeming your miles, from shopping and entertainment to dining and magazine subscriptions, although regarding value the best redemptions are for award tickets on United. Combing through the United award space, there are some real sweet spots for redeeming your miles and getting the best value out of them.

Buying or Transferring Miles

If you are close to your 18-month deadline and you have not managed to earn or redeem miles to have some account activity and keep your miles alive, you always have the option of purchasing or transferring some miles. Bear in mind that buying miles is rarely value for money—if you have to, then buy the minimum; otherwise, it is best to wait until there is a bonus for purchasing miles.

Do United MileagePlus Miles Expire?
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  • Surprised you don’t mention that Award Wallet Plus helps you keep track of when your miles and points are about to expire…

  • United miles are becoming more valuable with other airline recent devaluations

  • I recently learned that having the United Mileage Plus Explorer card means that you get 25% more miles when you used the Mileage Plus X app — even if you don’t pay with that card! This is great since I’m trying to meet the minimum spend on another card right now.

    Mypoints is a program that can be exchanged for United Points, and they show up in your MileagePlus account immediately.

    There really is no excuse to have MileagePlus Plus points expire.

  • These are great pieces. I can remember when I was just starting out and wondering how to keep track of everything, and it can be overwhelming. But as a “veteran” now, I sound like a broken record. If you don’t want your points to expire, it’s entirely too easy to keep them active through portals, free points, whatever. You can do this for literally less than $1.

  • Surveys thru e-rewards and OpinionMiles work well for me for United.

    • I agree. Last year I was a few hundred miles short of a RT Business Class award to Thailand. I didn’t want to wait for another billing cycle to close to earn the points, so I plugged away at surveys to get me to the threshold.

    • Second this. Taking a simple survey is the easiest way.

      • Kevin Davis says:

        I agree.. Taking a survey is the best and easy way to keep United. However, with the bad news that United had, I think it would be best for United to change their policy for the better imho..

  • We have found that the shopping portal is a great way to both earn miles and extending the expiration date.

  • And for earning, don’t forget surveys at Opinion Miles Club, and of course the ubiquitous e-Miles and e-Rewards.

    • Opinion Miles Club is an excellent way to earning MileagePlus Miles. I use the site daily and have racked up a ton of miles. Not sure if folks know this but you can keep clicking Take A Survey Now to check for new surveys. I did not know this at first and only thought that the ones they emailed me was what’s available to take. I usually keep clicking Take A Survey Now about 10 times if nothing shows to make sure I haven’t missed any Survey opportunities. It’s strange but sometimes it tells you there are no surveys but if you keep clicking one might open up.

  • I wonder if the United credit card deals will get sweeter to counter the reputation damage due to the passenger forced de-planing fiasco. I know that I would jump on an awesome credit card offer from them.

  • UA will start pitching the credit cards in flight.

  • Karen Klein says:

    I just started earning miles with United, since I’ve gotten the Chase Sapphire credit card. Plus, my hubby is flying on them a few times. We have miles with several airlines and since our children are older now, we FINALLY get to start traveling more! Yes! So convincing my hubby to get the Sapp card and enrollin United, etc is a plus and can’t wait to start using benefits! I love all the way United lets you earn and use miles!

  • It’s now easier to earn miles from these other methods than actually flying. Fly 6000 miles on a rt cross country trip and get for 300 bucks and you get 1500 miles if you are a normal member or 3300 if you are a 1k. rent a car from hertz and you can get 2750 miles with bonuses.

  • I find E rewards good for generating (small) miles to keep my UA and other balances alive.

  • MPX app is very easy. Also have their card, and will downgrade to no AF version when the AF comes. Two very easy ways to keep points active

  • Binita Patel says:

    Thanks for the info – agree that the MPX app is a great way to keep United miles from expiring!

  • Adam Parsons says:

    E-miles survey company also offer United miles as rewards so worth doing just to keep your account alive.

  • Jacqueline Parsons says:

    Erewards is a great way to add in a small amount of United miles if you have not been able to credit points via other routes to stop your existing points expiring. Best route for collecting UA has got to be Chase sapphire IMO.

  • Survey sites like e-rewards or e-miles can help you bank some more miles and extend the expiration date. I like to use the airline shopping portals once in awhile too when they offer bonuses. Just be careful, because sometimes the prices offered on websites accessed through shopping portals are higher, so you’re paying more for those miles!

  • IIRC, UA sends out a few reminders that your miles are about to expire a couple of months before your miles are set to expire.
    Better than some other FF programs where they don’t give out any advanced warning at all.

  • Love the Dining Program and the Mileage X App! I will eventually get the card and the app will be even sweeter!

  • My United miles expired last year, I had less than a 1000 miles in my account. If I decide to book an award with United I would transfer Ultimate Reward points to my United account.

  • Just hope you can expand your “5 bonus miles for comment” to UA. That will be the best way to keep account alive 🙂

  • E-miles surveys as well.

  • MPX is still a good tool to keep things alive.

  • If I transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United, does that reset the clock? What if I then use those points to travel on a United partner?

  • They don’t, but they do use “enhanced” mileage extensions which get around the Geneva Convention.

  • E-Miles surveys work for me.

  • says:

    One of my favorite ways to get miles (and keep miles from expiring) is Mileage Plus X. I buy gift cards for various stores while in line to make purchases from the app and I get a quick boost of my miles so simply. Everyone should look into this!!

  • I think the e- miles is a nice and easy way to keep points. I also like the shopping feature.

  • I kept a family members account open by donating 500 miles to make a wish, it updated my account for another year and a half almost instantly. I found it a good cause for both of us.

  • I like the program options. Used to be lots of good redemption options. Will see in future. United dining is good program to keep points alive.

  • Any suggestions for a quick, easy way for a non-US based person to extend the expiry date? (Not e-miles as I found that doesn’t really work for us.)

  • United is definetely one of my favourite programme.
    I like the fact that there is no fuel surcharge and that you can extend the validity of your account of 18 months just doing whatever activity.
    Moreover, there are a lot of partners and the booking of an award is quite straightforward also for partner flights.

  • Alice Chen says:

    Super helpful! I use e-Rewards as well

  • Well, flying nowadays can’t bring you many miles and only worth to keep status or prevent points from expiry. Good that United counts any activity as qualifying for extending miles balance

  • emiles is good but hard work

  • I can’t believe the MPX app isn’t promoted much more widely — tons of partners, easy to redeem, quick way to extend miles! Although I sometimes wish the gift cards were available in smaller denominations.

  • The shopping portal is a great way to earn and extend the validity of miles. I know a few other airlines have these, but I wish more had these portals.

  • Regarding the Chase MileagePlus Explorer card, apart from benefit of free checked baggage, is there any point in using it if I also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card? Seems I would get one extra mile per dollar when I transfer from Chase Rewards to United.

    • No. As a new cardholder you’ll pick up the 50K sign-up bonus and an additional 5K for first AU plus the two United Club passes, but ongoing the biggest benefit is the free checked bag. Sapphire Reserve will earn more points in the long run and gives you a ton more flexibility.

  • says:

    With all the bad press I feel like I’d like to use these miles up and stick to American. It makes me nervous to even fly United lately.

  • The Mileageplus survey partner can be used (as infrequently as possible) to have miles activity, but beware that it’s not worth the colossal waste of time to try to get any points from them. It’s easier to sign up for the dining program and maybe hit a participating restaurant once in a while, or click through the shopping mall when buying something from a participating retailer or service.

  • To me personally, United mileageplus dining and the Mileage plus X app is the best way to go!

  • I can confirm that transfer from Hyatt to United and transfer from Hertz to United both extend the expiry date of United miles

  • Also, *every* *single* *time* I use the United shopping portal the miles do not automatically post. I have had to follow up with customer service. I’ve not had a problem getting the miles credited, but it’s a hassle so keep all your emails (from both the shopping portal and the merchant) and maybe a few screen shots until you are sure you’ve gotten the credit and that your expiry date has been extended.

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