This week, United informed MileagePlus members the miles in the program are no longer subject to an expiration date. Previously, an account needed to post activity at least once every 18 months in order to maintain its mileage balance. This move brings United on par with Delta and JetBlue as domestic US airlines whose frequent flyer programs impose no expiration date on their miles/points.
Per an email sent by United:
“We’re always looking for ways to enhance our MileagePlus® program. So that’s why effective immediately, miles no longer expire. We hope this change makes it even easier for you to make the most out of your MileagePlus experience.”
This move by itself is positive for consumers. For most avid points and miles fanatics the expiration dates of common programs like United MileagePlus are rarely a problem due to the ease in keeping accounts from resetting to zero.
United was also one of the easiest programs to keep active. The United co-branded credit cards through Chase offer the benefit of keeping miles from expiring as long as the credit card account is open. Additionally, the MileagePlus X (MPX) app offers the next easiest way to keep miles from expiring. One purchase of a gift card through MPX instantly posts miles to the mileage account thus extending the expiration date another 18 months.
Despite the ease of maintaining MileagePlus balances the benefit of no longer needing to worry about expiring miles is useful for those who manage multiple accounts for friends or family members.
Despite the announcement whenever airlines announce seemingly good news, especially when they use the word “enhance” I immediately become suspicious of a negative change they have planned. If I were to guess it would be related to United’s move away from award charts and towards a dynamic pricing model. Points won’t expire because it will take even longer to accrue enough for a meaningful redemption. Time will tell what other “enhancements” United will offer to it’s loyalty program members.
For comparison popular US airline programs which still maintain expiration dates are:
Alaska Airlines: 24 months
American Airlines AAdvantage: 18 months
Hawiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: 18 months
Southwest RapidRewards: 24 months