Update 1-7-13: Good news – looks like American Airlines has extended this challenge until March 31, 2013.
As a points and miles fanatic, it sends chills down my spine when I hear stories about people who miss out on free travel opportunities by letting their unused miles expire. As a matter of fact, the truth is that close to 40% of earned frequent filer miles expire without ever being used (thank goodness for AwardWallet – can’t imagine my life without it!). It’s especially bothersome to me when I personally know someone who has suffered from a mileage-loss; and the seed of inspiration for writing this post comes from just that…
My dad recently told me that my aunt lost all of her hard-earned AAdvantage miles due to account inactivity. Though my aunt’s attitude was, “oh well”, I, on the other hand, started researching solutions for her. The good news is that there is hope for those who might be in the same boat. Getting your miles back could be as simple as spending $30 and completing a re-engagement challenge. Here’s how:
With American Airlines’ AAdvantage Program, there are two options to reinstate your expired miles at the moment. The first option (the more expensive one) is to reactivate the account, but that’s going to cost you between $200 and $600 depending on how many miles you’ve had.
The second option is to participate in a “re-engagement challenge” whereby you pay a $30 non-refundable registration fee, and you complete specific AA and/or partner mileage-earning activity within 6 months of registration. This challenge is valid on miles that expired on or after December 31, 2002, so you can go as far as 10 years back on this one. After looking over the requirements, it seems like a no-brainer if you’re planning on flying AA sometime soon. For example, you can restore up to 50,000 of your expired miles simply by taking a purchased round trip flight. Take a look at the specific details of the challenge found in the image below (click to enlarge):
As far as the round-trip, no minimum distance is necessary, so any short hop would suffice. Also, while credit card sign-up bonuses do not qualify for mileage activity in the challenge, earning extra miles hrough the online shopping mall and/or regular credit card spend would.
If you’re interested in enrolling in this challenge, you’ll need to call AAdvantage at 1-800-882-8880 (select “AAdvantage Account” on main menu), and ask the agent to register you for the re-engagement challenge.
Has anyone had any success with this in the past? If so, please share your experiences.
Of course, as a future note, you can skip this challenge all together simply by being more aware of your account balances and expiration dates. Like I mentioned earlier in the post, I use AwardWallet to keep track of my points and miles balances (though unfortunately American Airlines no longer allows you to track your AAdvantage miles with AwardWallet anymore… boo).
So what are some ways to keep your mileage balance active so you’re not a victim of the dreaded mileage-expiration? Without going into a lengthy post with ideas to keep your account active (hint: that post may be coming very soon), I’ll leave you with some simple suggestions:
You can keep your points and mileage account balances “active” simply by joining a dining program, spending with a co-branded credit card (such as the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® Visa Signature® Card which I have and love), making a purchase through the shopping portal, or by participating in several of those free points and miles promotions that pop up here and there. Be on the lookout for a more detailed post with more ways to keep your accounts alive very soon!
For now, keep track of those miles, and don’t let them go to waste!