I asked my sister the other day how to get my blog address to other relevant sites. She gave me some answer about non-profits (she works with non-profits) and might as well been speaking Portuguese with me because I didn’t understand what she was saying. But, it did remind me of a great way to extend frequent flier miles that are about to expire and help out a Charity in the meantime.
Most US airlines frequent flier miles (Delta is an exception – their miles do not expire) expire after a certain amount of inactivity. United, US Air, American, Hawaiian, and Virgin America expire after 18 months of inactivity. Southwest and Alaska Airlines expire after 24 months of inactivity (and Jet Blue 12 months, but this does not apply to them as they do not extend miles without having their credit card or flying them). Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Lufthansa expire after 36 months of inactivity.
A year and a half goes quickly and for a lot of people they have no idea their miles will expire or don’t realize it has already been 18 months since they last flew with an airline. Any activity will extend the life of your miles (except, I think Air Canada’s miles expire after 7 years of when they were earned and you have 12 months to keep active- and as I said Jet Blue). So if you fly United or one of their partners and put the credit to United. Your entire mileage balance has been extended for another 18 months. If you rent a car, stay at a hotel and choose miles that will extend them 18 months. Buying flowers, using their shopping programs or credit card. ANY activity no matter how big or small will extend the entire mileage balance by 18 months. I transfer miles from some survey program to my US Airways account (if I fly US Air I put credit to United). I do this only to keep that account active and not loose the miles I have earned with them. This also includes redeeming miles. Whether for flights or any other ways your airline allows you to redeem miles.
But if you realize your miles are expiring and you are not flying, or going to have any activity that will extend your mileage account then donating miles to a very worthy cause is a win-win proposition. Their is no cost to donate miles (unlike buying, gifting or reinstating miles – which by the way will also extend your balance for another 18 months). Donating as little as 500 miles (some have 1000 mile minimum) thru your frequent flier program to the March of Dimes, Make-A Wish Foundation, American Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, Miles for Kids in Need, Operation Hero Miles and many more can both extend your miles and help someone that is less fortunate. The airlines use these miles for free flights for these charities.
By chance I was looking at my brother and nieces accounts the other day and luckily saw his miles on American were expiring in 3 days (and he was flying in 4) so I donated some of his miles and that saved him 20,000 miles (almost enough for a free roundtrip) that he would have let expire. My nieces miles were expiring within the month with United and since she has no opportunity to extend her miles with any other activity other than flying I donated some of her miles and she saved 13,000 miles. Enough for a free one-way ticket.
This is not the only reason to donate your miles. If you have more miles than you can use – donate some of them. If you really do not travel and have some miles in an account that you will never use. Don’t let them expire – donate them. Let them go to good use!!
In addition to donating miles, American Airlines has a program where you will earn 10 miles for every dollar donated to either the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, National Foundation for Cancer Research, USO, or UNICEF (http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnMiles/beyondTravel/charities/main.jsp). There is a $25 minimum donation to receive miles. Making a donation and earning miles will not only increase your mileage balance but also extend the expiration date of your miles.