This One Little Trick Saved My Friend’s Expired Miles…

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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 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.

There are other options to reactive expired miles.  United, American, and USAirways are happy to let you pay to reactivate them.

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!

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38 Comments On "This One Little Trick Saved My Friend’s Expired Miles…"

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Can you earn miles on car rentals you make through Priceline? I have always found that the best rental deals are thru Priceline


Dan, its funny you posted this now.. I recently checked my Car Rental receipt & Avis charges $0.75 for these frequent flyer points.. I cant post a picture to the main site but on DDF I can.


Any tricks to reactivate starwood points?


Unlikely but you can always ask afterward and see what happens.

Added this to the post,

“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.”

Starwood will sometimes reactivate by just asking nicely.

Though they’re the easiest to keep active, just make a transfer from your account to someone else who lives at your address!


any recommendations of how to stay organized? any good free websites to manage all your miles?


Nice click-bait title 😉

My friend did this with his receipt…and you won’t BELIEVE what happened next!


My Herz car rental was automaticalluy credited to my Herz Gold Plus account and they can’t reverse it. Is there any other way around it (need United miles)?


“Airlines hate him”
great post dan!


Nothing is perfect or comprehensive.

A simple excel spreadsheet for your credit card and mileage accounts that you manually update once a week is best.

Was thinking of doing that, couldn’t stoop that low 😉

Also it’s only real click-bait if there’s nothing of substance found after you click 😀

I’m not much of a Hertz guy, though maybe someone else will chime in.



Thanks for the reply. My sister got married in a Sheraton and my father didn’t realize he even got points until it was too late.


A somewhat similar thing happened to my AA account.

Last spring (Mar/Apr 2014) AA ran some promotion where you’d earn some nominal amount of miles for playing a game on their Facebook page.

I was excited about the timing b/c my miles were due to expire on 06/06/14, but getting these miles for the game would extend the life of them.

I didn’t log into my AA account for several weeks, but I happened to check my account a day or two after 6/6/14 and to my surprise, my balance was ZERO. The miles for the game hadn’t posted and the expiration date had passed.

Every day for the next week or so, I logged into my account to see if there was something I could do.

Around 6/15/14, I logged back on and the miles for the Facebook game had posted. To my pleasant surprise, the date of the post was set retroactively to 6/1/14 and all my miles were retroactively reinstated!


Living dangerously, eh?


great idea, although i just paid $100 for 28,000 miles last Thursday, they gave me a discounted price. i will use this technique in the future.



spg points should expire after 12 months non-activities. Not 18 months. right?


They have a 6 months grace period.


Thanks for the comprehensive discussion. I had called United again just yesterday and the agent actually suggested your idea of looking for old flights or rentals etc. that hadn’t been posted to the account. She also said $50 to reactivate 4376 miles is a good deal because buying them would cost $75. When I asked about a “challenge” offer she said it wouldn’t be worthwhile because a challenge offer costs $200!! So, bottom line, do you agree with the agent that 4376 united miles are worth $50 to reactivate (which would then add another 50 miles)?


There is no United challenge.

Don’t have any friends/relatives who rented a car last September?

Technically it’s worth paying the $50 (1.1 cents per mile), but only if you’ll actually use them and not let them expire again…


@Dan: Considering that my balance at the time was <7k, I wasn't risking much.


…of course. Thanks very much.


Any tips on how to extend Club Carlson Points? Thanks.


with starwood and other airline loyalty programs, can i make a reservation, and cancel it. would that be considered activity for my miles to stay alive for 12-18 months?


I keep my grand children’s AA miles active by making a donation to charity. Thry have USO and cancer charities.

Anna Maryles

I let 135,000 united miles expire – first time ever – called a couple of times and was told $300 is the fee- no other choice.
One agent said I can apply for a United card and it will cost you only $200 and you will get 30,000 points after spending $1000 – I told her I don’t know if my application would be accepted – she told me I do -you will be accepted and I was.
$200 to reinstate 135,000 points and get 30,000 more didn’t hurt nearly as much as $300 and no points


Great post.. But your missing a critical fact.. Who do i call to get the miles from a rental? The rental company or airline?


this has always been ‘kept off the forums’. why the public post now?


YMMV, I’ve heard some horror stories and vice versa.

Rental company.

Figured there are probably hundreds of folks with expired Continental miles and not is the last chance to save them like this.


does this work with southwest also?


Any ideas how I can keep my kids United miles from expiring?


Dan, do you have ideas of good ways to keep organized? can you share spreadsheet ideas to help keep on top of all the miles and points?


Does anyone else have any good spreadsheet ideas of good ways to keep on top of cards? it would be great if someone could share so as not to hit fees, not let points/miles expire, when you can re-apply for cards, when shud cancel etc…

David R

For Dollar, this site implies you only have until 6 months after the rental to get miles for it.
Can anyone confirm if they got miles from a Dollar rental after 6 months?



Continental//United used to be partnered with Avis. (Looks like Hertz stole them away.) A family member of mine has some “unused” Avis reservations from before my miles expired in late 2013. Is Avis one of the car rentals one can credit to United/Continental to revive those expired miles? Thanks in advance!

David R

@Menachem: My Hertz rental also credited to my Hertz account, but somehow that did not prevent them from awarding me a few United miles when I called a few months later. My problem is that although the MileagePlus activity shows the miles from the car rental retroactively credited as of a date that is three weeks earlier than the mileage expiration, the expired miles still did not reappear. Any ideas?

expired AA miles


How can I obtain a rental receipt from Sept 2015 to be credited to my AA account?

David R

My United miles will expire on 2/29/16
So is it still good til midnight the 29? Or midnight the 28th? If I don’t use them and don’t want them to expire,I donate 500 miles to the miltary and then it is 18 months again to use them.


@Dan: Dan, Do you have a car rental receipt between july 2015- july 2016 that I can use to credit an expired account of 200k+?

oyo vey

with UA do you have to call to get miles reinstated or does it happen automatically once the auto rental car company pushes the mile to the ff acct?