What Are The Best Ways To Maximize Expiring United Miles?

Jun 15, 2014

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

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 points.com but at a terrible ratio. Points.com 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 info@thepointsguy.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.