What Are The Best Ways To Maximize Expiring United Miles?

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I was recently tweeted a great “newbie question of the week” by TPG reader @Mommalogues:

“@thepointsguy My 18,000+ United MileagePlus miles will expire on July 31st. Can I trade them for American AAdvantage miles?”

The answer to your question is yes, you can trade your expiring MileagePlus miles for American AAdvantage miles through points/miles exchange and clearing house but at a terrible ratio. will let you transfer your hard-earned miles and points between programs, but the commissions they charge are so high that they effectively eviscerate the value of those points and miles. You’d probably get more from your MileagePlus miles by exchanging them for magazines.

I’d suggest that you use your miles with United, rather than allowing them to expire. Even though the airline just had a big devaluation in February, and announced changes to how miles are earned just this past week, you can still find some decent awards for United flights. Unlike many airline loyalty programs, United MileagePlus allows one-way awards, so I’d recommend trying for a one-way, 12,500-mile Economy Saver award.


Another option would be to reset the clock on when your miles expire. United gives its MileagePlus members 18 months to keep their miles active, meaning that any account activity (including earning or redemption) will reset that 18 months. This includes signing up for the MileagePlus Dining Program and buying as little as a soda, or doing some online shopping at the United MileagePlus mall. Keep in mind, though, that these partner activities can take between a few days to a couple of weeks to post, so don’t wait until the last minute. Since United and Chase Ultimate Rewards are transfer partners, a more immediate way to reset your expiration date is to make a 1:1 transfer of as few as 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points to your MileagePlus account. Finally, any activity on United branded credit card will also keep your miles from expiring.

If you want to build up a stash of American AAdvantage miles, I’d suggest making that a separate part of your points and miles strategy. To help you along, check out our Hot Deals page for a great 100,000-mile Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard offer going on right now.

I hope this answered your question, Mommalougues. Please let me know if any of you have others by messaging me on Facebook, tweeting me @thepointsguy, or emailing me at

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