Thursday, July 05, 2007

Keeping Frequent Flyer Miles Current

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the airlines are shortening their frequent flyer activity periods. Many are down to 18 months – if you don’t have some sort of activity in your account every 18 months, your mileage balance may disappear. But any activity works – buy a book, send flowers, dine out, stay in a hotel, use an airline-branded credit card. There are hundreds of possibilities with most airlines. If your credit is good, consider getting an airline’s no-fee credit card. You won’t get 1-for-1 miles for dollars spent (usually only 1-for-2), but the cards have no annual fees and all you need to charge is a few dollars. The banks/airlines don’t heavily promote these cards, but we know that US Air, United, and American all have no-annual-fee credit cards. (Others may also. Check Gary Steiger’s for more information.)

Our suggestion is to simply do a once-a-year checkup. In our case, it’s in November, when we do holiday shopping, we may dine out more often, etc. If we haven’t had activity in a particular program, we do one of the things above. This is especially important for those airlines where you have miles you don’t want to lose, but you no longer regularly fly that airline.

Airlines expiration policies:
United 18 months
Continental 18 months
American 18 months
US Air 18 months
Delta 2 years
Alaska 3 years
Northwest 3 years