United: Use Your Points or We’re Taking Them Back

United, in another step in what seems to be a plan to systematically hate their customers, has announced that unless you use your “Milage Plus” account every 18 months, you’ll lose it. From Cheapflights:

    “This change makes our Mileage Plus program better for customers who are most loyal to United, reduces our operating costs, and brings our program in line with major competitors,” said Dennis Cary, United’s Senior Vice-President of Marketing.

    “We offer several ways our customers can easily stay active in our Mileage Plus program and enjoy the benefits that come with earning and redeeming miles with United.”

To keep your account active, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new flight, you can also get a Visa card or redeem miles, among other transactions.—MEGHANN MARCO

Mileage Plus accounts will expire soon, United warns [Cheapflights]

PREVIOUSLY: United: No Snacks For You
United: Charlie Trotter Is Back


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  1. I’d also advise people who fly United to manually check that their miles have been credited after flying (using the website). Despite assurances at check in after presenting our frequent-flier card, twice, our miles were not credited to our account.

    Then, thanks to this “inactivity” clause, they tried to take away the miles we had previously as well. It took 45 min of arguing on the phone and digging up old ticket stubs and credit card statements to prove that we indeed attempted to use the frequent-flier account in the last 18 months twice. In the end they did finally credit us the miles…but reluctantly.

  2. kiloman says:

    I was forced to do this via their affiliate website http://www.milesformags.com . Placed the order yesterday (after my first attempt several months ago apparently never went through). First issue expected to arrive in April. Second issue in AUGUST. Monthly thereafter.

  3. WindowSeat says:

    I ended up using my points with another airline on magazines, honestly I should have let them expire or donated them because half the magazines went unread. The guy that picks up the recycling must be relieved that those subscriptions are over.

  4. I had 10,000 of my miles expire last July, but didn’t realize it until just the other day when I wanted to sign up for a United visa card. I called United’s mileage plus 800 number and talked to the representative. They credited my miles back to me, but said that I had 90 days to use my account (i.e. add miles) or they would expire again. The phone call was surprisingly quick and painless. No argument from them whatsoever, but I was willing to accept the 90 day rule.

    If you’re not interested in the credit card, or aren’t ready to fly, you may be able buy a handful of miles online, just to keep the account active. Sure, it’s not pretty and its a way for them to gouge you a bit more, but if you have tens of thousands of miles saved up for a tropical getaway, it may be worth it.

  5. I used them on magazines too. I got Time, Wine Spectator, and something that was so unmemorable I’ve already forgotten. Wine Spectator is also really boring after one issue, but it was the second-best magazine on the list after Time.

  6. Falconfire says:

    There is a legit reason for them to pull this. Millions of miles are going unused (mostly because they make the ability to use them so hard that its basically impossible to) To prevent people from actually being able to turn in miles that are rightfully theirs, they are going to make them expendable like gift cards.

    Basically its another way for the government subsidized airline industry to get richer while fucking over everyone who uses or works for it. Our government tax dollars at work!

  7. blander says:

    United cancelled my account entirely due to inactivity without informing me. I only found out because I wanted to make sure that my miles were getting counted for a few flights I had taken. I ended up not getting credit for those flights and having to open a new account. I think I could have eventually gotten the new miles, but dealing with them was too much of a hassle for me to handle.

  8. shaunirving says:

    I had luck keeping my United miles alive by registering a credit card with iDine through their Mileage Plus website. Take 10 minutes to register your card, then go grab dinner at one of their restaurants–your account gets credited 25 or so miles, and it qualifies as current activity.

  9. TedSez says:

    A few years ago — coincidentally, after I had written a letter complaining about the awful experiences I had had with them on two consecutive trips — United “lost” my frequent-flyer account, managing to make it disappear from their computers entirely. I chalked it up the universe helping me avoid ever being tempted to fly with them again.

  10. brilliantmistake says:

    I had the United Mileage Credit Card, until they sold the account to Chase. Chase promptly hiked my rate up to 29.9% (no joke), because they “didn’t like my credit activity.” I hadn’t had any late payments or other black marks (I checked my credit report), and they gave no other reason. Needless to say I paid off the account and closed it (it hadn’t been open long enough to bother keeping it open with a zero balance).

  11. shoegazer says:

    Not the same, but a few years ago I stayed in Hiltons for about a month and racked up almost a week of free nights (and silver status) in HHonors. Forgot about them and next year, I come to check my account for a holiday hotel – nada. I now avoid Hiltons like the plague and look for the Intercontinental / Crowne Plazas on business.

    Way to ensure customer loyalty, HHonors.

  12. flamaest says:

    Your Safeway card also can connect to United airlines to get amile for every dollar. This will keep things active for sure.


  13. thrillhouse says:

    Statistics show that 75% of airmiles are never redeemed. I wonder what that number will look like once this catches on.