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I’ve written articles in the past about when miles from various credit card, airline, and hotel programs expire and a really easy and free way to keep them alive.
And several times last September I reminded folks that their old Continental miles would expire on October 1st. Previously Continental miles dating back all the way to the 80s had never expired.
A good buddy of mine told me on Friday that his old Continental miles expired on 10/01/13. After chastising him for not being more organized (the only way to get ahead in the mileage and credit card game is to be very organized) I went digging through my emails for car rental receipts.
You see, I’ve been through this before. A few years ago I rescued my mother’s and another friend’s United miles and a few months ago I rescued my brother’s American miles as well this way. I intentionally don’t collect miles for some of my car rentals just for these situations.
Typically you can earn 50 airline miles a day when you rent a car, though there are promotions at times to earn thousands of miles when you rent a car. If you have a car rental that never received airline miles and the rental took place before the expiration date of your airline mileage account you can call to have the car rental miles credited to your airline mileage account. Typically that can be done for up to a year after the rental. The miles post to your airline mileage account retroactive to the time of the car rental. It can take a few weeks for those miles to post, but when they do it will reactivate your entire mileage account if the car rental was made before your miles expired.
Another reason to ask for credit afterward: When you give your mileage number before the rental you’ll be charged 75 cents a day for those miles. When you ask for miles after the rental there is no charge.
I’ve never run into any issues having the miles credited to someone else’s account. In fact I’ve never even been asked for the name of the mileage account holder, I just ask for airline mileage account number XYZ to be credited for the rental.
So I went digging this past Friday, 08/29/14, for an old car rental and found I had one uncredited rental in August and September 2013. I had picked up the rental on 08/29/13 and returned it 08/30/13. The first agent said it was too late to get credit for the rental and refused to even try as the pickup had been “more than a year ago.” However after a quick HUCA another agent was happy to process the request and I expect that all of his miles should reappear later this month.
Though he won’t be able to just sit on his laurels. His account will be subject to expiration in just 6 months as the last activity will the car rental from 12 months ago.
If he gets a United credit card his miles will never expire as long as the card is active. Otherwise redeeming a few hundred miles for a magazine subscription is a quick, easy, and free way to generate activity to extend mileage expiration out another 18 months. Or if you have transferable points you can move any amount of points from Chase, AMEX, or Starwood to an airline to keep your entire account alive.
With Starwood a simple transfer from you to your spouse or someone else living at your address will keep both of your accounts alive for another 18 months.
American also has a unique challenge that I wrote about over 5 years ago that allows you to reactivate miles by completing tasks like opening a credit card or flying on a paid AA flight. Since then they’ve added a small fee to take that challenge, but it should be much cheaper than paying to reactivate the miles outright.
A commenter on the recent airline credit card post notes that he also had his old Continental miles expire on 10/01 and I’m guessing many more ignored my calls last September as well. Sorry folks, I don’t have any more uncredited car rentals from last September, but if you’re in the same boat be sure to check with your family and friends if they rented a car last September!