United MileagePlus Miles No Longer Expire

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United has made a major change to the MileagePlus program rules by eliminating mileage expiration, effective August 28, 2019. If you don’t fly with United or their partner airlines frequently, you won’t have to worry about losing your miles due to inactivity. While this change is definitely positive, the long term impact will be more miles in circulation which adds pressure to increase award prices in the future.

Before the change, United MileagePlus members had to have some form of activity on their account every 18 months to keep their miles active. This could be as simple as using the shopping portal, buying a candy bar with your United℠ Explorer Card, or transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards. But a mistake was costly. If your miles expired, the only option to get them back was to pay a hefty mileage-reinstatement fee.

The new policy brings the United rewards program closer to those of Delta and JetBlue, neither of which have expiration dates for their rewards programs. American Airlines continues to have an 18-month expiration policy, while Alaska miles and Southwest points expire after two years of inactivity.

While we’re always happy to see programs make it easier to keep your hard-earned miles, there are some potentially negative impacts for those that pay close attention to their mileage balances and expiration dates. With more miles in circulation, it’s only a matter of time before the accountants start getting nervous about the liability of having so many outstanding miles on the books.

United’s Flexible Award Pricing

Back in April, United made a major unannounced change for award travel after November 15, 2019. The least expensive “saver” awards no longer have a fixed minimum price: the number of miles required will fluctuate based on demand. Unlike many devaluations that kick in for all travel booked after a certain date, United made this update based on the date of travel, so we’ve already seen these higher-priced saver awards for departures after November 15.

The new flexible award pricing makes it much easier for United to quietly raise prices. With no award chart to hold them accountable, it will be hard for MileagePlus members to keep track of the incremental changes.

Our Take

The new no-expiration policy is, on balance, a positive change for MileagePlus members. The push towards higher award prices and less transparency is happening one way or another, so we'll consider it a win that United will no longer take away your miles and charge you fees to get them back. Just don't let the lack of expiration become an excuse to stockpile miles that will be worth less the longer you hold them.

Source: OneMileAtATime

United MileagePlus Miles No Longer Expire
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Comments

  • I consider this good news. However, it could end up like Delta, make it tougher to get points outside of flying.

  • What are the odds of AA following this?

  • This is one change that I’m happy United copied from Delta. I hope eventually we will see this from others as well.

    • Not to be all doom-and-gloom, but it has to be said that it’s also likely that UA will adopt other less customer-friendly “enhancements” a-la DL as well. bottom line: this change should not be viewed purely as a “win”.

  • Does this mean that the estimated value of each United MileagePlus point is now lower? What do folks thing a point is worth?

    • I wouldn’t say this has any impact on point value yet. We’re working on a page that shows actual redemption values based on how much folks save on trips. In the meantime, I’d love to hear thoughts from you guys on United mile value. I consider mine to be worth around 2 cents, based on the fact I typically use them on biz class awards when other programs have high taxes and fees.

  • Awesome! We only fly United a few times each year and always seem to lose the few miles we earn – we live near a Delta hub. This is good news!

  • I mean, it’s a positive no matter what. We know other aspects won’t be, but hey, take a win when you can.

  • This could be a positive for infrequent flyers, flying United every year or two. I believe with dynamic pricing awards will become more expensive in the future.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I hate clichés, but non=expiring points a true “game changer”. Especially if you are not a frequent business traveller. Very excited about this.

  • As someone who lost about 8K UA miles last year (8K expired miles), this is a good change.
    However I fear UA miles will become less valuable at the end with other changes they made or are going to make.

  • I agree with your conclusion. There are always inflationary pressures, even if only in the minds of the program managers, so this is good news, but earn and burn regardless.

  • I guess its follow delta…. dynamic points system and now no expiration of points.

  • Excellent news! I am very excited about this considering I don’t fly United very often.

  • This is especially good for overseas customers where it is hard to earn United miles in between trips.

  • A definite plus. I will no longer have to figure out how to keep 4 family accounts active. Hopefully, other airlines who don’t offer this policy will feel the pressure to follow suit. Finally, a positive change.

  • Can’t see this as anything other than a positive. Now AA should be next.

  • I hope United’s miles don’t become as worthless as Delta’s

  • this definitely brews massive devaluation like delta. i’m not sure this “benefit” provides much value as it wasn’t really very difficult to keep united miles from expiring.

  • The non-expiry is good news for free agents and those who either prefer other alliances.

  • I always appreciate when I can let points sit without worrying about them, especially if it is a currency that I don’t use very often.

  • Great news. I literally have to use MileagePlusX app to spend some miles to be able to renew the expiry prior to this

  • For me this is great news I have over 150K miles on UA, but I fly them infrequently. I wish every airline and hotel program would adopt this same policy.

  • I think switching to miles that don’t expire is a plus and makes them more competitive.

  • Great news! I don’t fly United often, so I’m glad to not have to worry about my miles expiring.

  • I never had any of my United Miles expire but since I am in charge of family members accounts, this lowers the stress on that front. You never know when some “orphan miles” might come in handy. Especially if you have flexible points to top them up. I have my reservations about this change but I’ll choose to see the good side.

  • This is by far the best news!! I hope other major Airlines follow suite. This is extremely helpful in more ways than one.

  • Luciano Stinchi says:

    AA following in 9, 8, 7…

  • This is a welcome change, following Delta’s lead of no expiration date for miles. Hopefully we can expect American Airlines to do the same soon.

  • The Arts Traveler says:

    I guess this is good news. One less thing to worry about. However, I am concerned about the demand pricing. United could be become as useless as Delta. Yes, I know there are sweet spots in Delta, but flying Delta is not one of them.

  • I know some people think this will make it harder to find award space, but I think that effect will be very small.

  • I love that they do not expire now. I do worry that now how high the miles will go but then if people only have small balances and they have to keep building them and United asks for high amounts needed anyway then it’s all the same to me. I don’t think having the expiration date or not will make a huge impact to me. I always had activity.

  • The non expiration of the miles is the only small good news, all the rest are bad news!

  • Clyde F Wertz says:

    I consider this a plus, but only because my my AA miles are already hard to use. They’ve sat for a few years.

  • I have always thought it strange and unfair that miles expire. Some airlines expire them after a period of time irrespective of activity.

  • When I started with AA miles, then the AA mantra was “miles that never expire”. Very good news. Expected good changes in this market.

  • all airlines should follow suit. mileage expiry is stupid.

  • Great news! The only concern is that UA miles is going to devalue in the future.

  • Madeleine Ming says:

    Great news. I am very happy about this new policy. Hopefully AA will follows.

  • I’m happy with this. I monitor my various family members expiration dates via Award Wallet and this makes for one less hassle and ability to put my miles obtained in my account rather than spreading them around. Now we wait for American and others to join the trend.

  • Wanda Lagios says:

    I hope AA follows the lead of United and others with no expiring points and at the same time not making it more difficult to use the points.

  • This is a good news.. But I thinks It means a devaluation of UA miles soon like delta.

  • This is a good new, but I wish It doesn’t mean devaluation of the ua miles like delta.

  • I’ve read in a few other blogs that there is concern with airlines having millions, if not billions, of dollars in miles on their books and thus makes it easier for them to devalue the worth of those miles.

  • Very nice move UA after years of policy executed by DL. Now we are expecting AA to match!!

  • I’m just surprised that UA didn’t announce this at the same time they did the switch to dynamic award pricing earlier this year … it would have softened that blow a bit!

  • This just makes sense. Nobody (outside of people with ALOT of miles) will fly simply because they have a few miles expiring. It actually may push people to fly with United who may otherwise not have, in order to accumulate more miles towards a free trip in the future (when normally they would have been cut to zero,)

  • It’s nice that the points don’t expire – it’s very helpful for people like me who are super forgetful. However, I would still use the points asap since they can get devalued by United later.

  • if only AA would follow

  • This is quite the juxtaposition – posted back to back, right next to each other:
    sd says: “Can’t see this as anything other than a positive.”
    J. says: “I hope United’s miles don’t become as worthless as Delta’s”

  • This is a pretty clear indicator that they’re moving to a fully revenue-based system with revenue-based earning and redemptions. In that case, it’s a pure rebate, and expirations don’t make sense.

  • Brenda Galavis says:

    It’s Fabulous. AA would follow.

  • However, it is preferable to use the miles before United devalue them.

  • Wow. This is great!

  • Delta miles also dont expire but are worth much less than united. I hope United miles value dont follow the delta path – dont expire but are worth much less due to that. Something’s got to give, and if there are more miles to go around they will be less valuable.

  • Still waiting for some AA reaction, United going ahead.

  • Great news … I hope AA follow United.

  • Wonderful news for me since i don’t fly often with United so dont need to buy an itune song to keep account alive hehe

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