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Has it been a long time since you have last earned or used your United Airlines MileagePlus miles? If so, you are probably wondering when United miles expire. You will be happy to hear that your United miles no longer expire! Until recently, miles expired after 18 months of account inactivity.
Below are the details of this recent change and how to keep earning more miles. If your miles recently expired, it’s also possible to reclaim them.
When Do United Miles Expire?
United Airlines announced on August 28, 2019, that United miles will no longer expire effective immediately. 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.
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.
Reclaiming Expired Miles
It’s still possible that you may have had United miles expire before the policy change. If your miles have expired within the last 18 months, you can reclaim them. But it’s going to cost money.
United offers two different ways to reinstate miles.
Buy Back Miles
You can reinstate up to 750,000 expired miles.
How much you pay depends on how many miles you buy back:
- Up to 5,000 miles: $50
- 5,001 to 20,000 miles: $100
- 20,001 to 35,000 miles: $150
- 35,001 to 50,000 miles: $200
- 50,001 to 75,000 miles: $250
- 75,001 to 100,000 miles: $300
- 100,001 to 150,000 miles: $400
- 150,001 to 200,000 miles: $500
- 200,001 to 500,000 miles: $600
- 500,001 to 750,000 miles: $700
You pay applicable sale tax plus the reinstatement fee.
Option B can be the better option for reinstating your miles. You must have at least 20,000 miles to reinstate to pursue this option.
First, you pay a fixed reinstatement fee of $100 to recover your expired miles. Then, you must either complete one of these activities in the next 90 days:
- Complete a United flight
- Apply for a co-brand United Airlines credit card and make one purchase
Other United Miles Changes
The good news is that Unites miles no longer expire. However, United is changing their award flight pricing. 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 MileagePlus program changes.
No More Award Chart
Beginning November 15, 2019, United is no longer publishing 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.
In many cases, you can expect award flight prices to increase.
United already has floating award flight prices with their more expensive Everyday Award flight prices which only state a price cap. The Saver Award ticket is a fixed price. This award ticket type is changing to a floating rate.
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.
No Close-In Booking Fee
One positive change starting November 15, 2019, is that 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.
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 discount or free CLEAR membership for MileagePlus members.
The standard market price is $179 per year. Your price depends on your MileagePlus loyalty status:
- MileagePlus Premier 1K: Free
- MileagePlus Premier Silver, Gold, or Platinum: $109 per year
- All MileagePlus members: $119 per year
Even if you’re only a basic loyalty member, you still save $60 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.
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. For instance, the United Explorer Card earns 2x miles on the purchases: United Airlines, restaurants, hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel.
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. You get 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining (1 point per $1 on everything else). Your points are worth 1.5 cents each booking award travel on the Chase travel portal. But they can be worth more by transferring them to your MileagePlus account.
The Sapphire Reserve also gives you a $300 annual travel credit, credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and Priority Pass airport lounge access.
Comparable to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the Platinum Card from American Express. It is also a premium card that comes with a credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, access to airport lounges, and the ability to earn 5x Membership Rewards points per $1 spent directly with airlines or through Amex travel.
However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, one of the best credit cards for excellent credit score, may be a better option as it still earns 2x points on travel and dining but has a lower annual fee than the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum.
Check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs American Express Platinum review for further details.
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. Although, you will still need to pay a fee to reinstate miles that expired before the expiration policy changed in late August 2019. 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.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.