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Saved My United Miles

I recently got one of those mailers warning me that my United miles were soon to expire, urging me to spend them on magazines. Now, in the past, I would have considered that offer, especially since I only have some 3,000 United miles, which I got from flying SAS last year.

But a miles-savvy friend told me about a way that I could stop these miles from expiring without spending any of them. Since most airlines, including United, just require you to have some activity periodically to prevent miles from expiring, a quick and easy way to save them would be to transfer a few miles from another awards account.

So this morning, I transferred 1,000 points from my Chase Ultimate Rewards account to my United account. It took about one minute to add United as a transfer partner on the Chase web site, fill in the number of miles I wanted to transfer, and hit “submit.” The transfer was just about instantaneous. I logged out of my United account and logged back in, and when I did, I saw that my miles total had changed from 3,039 to 4,039, and my mileage expiration date had changed from February, 2017, to July, 2018. That give me over a year to get more United miles and actually do something with them, or at least do some small activity with the account to keep it alive.

Another thing you can do to keep frequent flyer accounts alive is to do a transaction through the airline’s shopping portal. Most of them have little “malls” where you can click through to a store and shop as normal, earning a few miles. It’s just like eBates, but for miles.

One thing I can’t do right now to get more United miles is get the Mileage Plus Explorer Card, which offers a 30,000-mile bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. I can’t get that one because it’s issued by Chase, and I’ve hit that bank’s unusually strict limit on new credit card applications.

If you haven’t applied for more than five new bank cards in the past 24 months, I recommend you start with Chase’s Sapphire Preferred* card, which is currently offering 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

* That’s my refer-a-friend link, so if you sign up through that, I’ll get a 5,000-point bonus.