Donating Miles To Military Members Saves Daughter’s Remaining American Airlines Account Balance

Plus donating miles to military members felt like the right thing to do this Memorial Day.

Here’s a little story about miles that are about to expire that you might be able to relate to.

Last week, I received an email reminder from the software I use to track IDs, passwords and points balances.

This alert told me that my daughter’s American Airlines account was about to lose almost 10,000 frequent flyer miles.

One common theme of most loyalty programs is that unused points expire. With AAdvantage, points earning or redemption activity resets the expiration to 180 days out from the most recent activity date.  

As it turns out, this particular account had been dormant for 179 days due to failure to earn or redeem miles.

Oldest daughter, I’ve dubbed, “MilesCoEd.”

About to lose the entire miles balance

MilesCoed was in danger of losing her hard-earned American AAdvantage miles. That’s nearly enough miles for a free one-way trip back to college for upcoming fall semester.

After procrastinating several days, I sat down to plan the course of action to avoid losing the miles.

The easiest course of action was to redeem the miles to a city a family member would be guaranteed to travel over the next 330 days.  

“That’s easy,” I thought, “since MilesCoed attends school in Ohio, we’ll just book an award on or about Fall semester return, then tweak the date as it approaches.”

Potential solution

A great feature of the AAdvantage program is that no fees are charged for changing award dates of travel so long as the origin and destination remain the same.

However, this would not work. The lowest award trip on AAdvantage (outside of reduced mileage sale destinations) is 12,500, while we had fewer than 10,000. This option was out the window.

Other available options were available, including buying something through the AAdvantageeshopping portal, or buying magazines using miles, or even moving Marriott Rewards into the AA account.  However, because points earned using these techniques can take up to 1 week to post, these would not work- I needed miles to post by the next day in order to avoid forfeiting.

When you don’t like any of your choices

I finally phoned the AAdvantage desk to find out my options the day before points were set to expire.  The agent offered three choices:

  1. Pay $60 “expiration extension” fee, giving MilesCoed more time to earn or redeem miles.  Team MilesHusband despises paying cash for miles, so I moved on to other choices.
  2. Purchase miles using cash at rate of 2,000 miles for $101.05. Note, 2,000 miles are worth approximately $30.00.  Paying $80 above market value for miles is not a good use of cash.
  3. “Share”  1,000 miles from another AAdvantage account member, which incurs a $30 processing fee..  ~9500 AA miles are worth ~$145, so this seemed the best of the 3 agent-offered options.

Sometimes there is another option

After “confirming” with agent there were no other options, I googled just to be sure I wasn’t overlooking any cheaper options, which led to another option overlooked by the AA agent:  

I could DONATE the miles!

These are the choices AAdvantage offers to let you donate miles.

Each of these three choices allows a minimum of 1,000 miles to be donated. In remembrance of Memorial Day, I chose the Miles for Our Heroes option.

Although the warning of taking up to 48 hours to process, the miles were deducted immediately, 1 day prior to the miles expiration deadline.

So for approximately $15 worth of miles, I was able to save nearly $150 worth of AAdvantage miles, and just as importantly, do some good for the men and women serving our country.

What’s your story?

Were you aware that your airline miles can expire?

What steps did you take to keep them from expiring?

Are you serving our country? Please share in the Comments section below.

Thank you for your service!

A huge thank you from our MilesFamily to all those currently serving, veterans and families who have sacrificed.

Our two girls as their about to catch a water bus to the airport in Venice, Italy. How can MilesHusband help you make your travel dreams come true with your family? Check out some ideas here.