What Airlines Don’t Want You to Know About Miles for Magazines

I used to read lots of magazines.


Not because I loved Time or Business Week.

For years airline companies enticed me to trade miles that were about to expire for ‘free’ magazines.   Since I (idiotically) thought I didn’t fly enough or spend enough to ever earn enough miles for an actual flight, I took the bait.   This article is for people like past-me.

Earn frequent flyer miles without flying and stop spending your miles on magazines - instead spend them on a view like this!

Stop wasting your frequent flyer miles on magazines just because you don’t fly often and don’t want to lose all the miles you’ve earned. There’s another, better way! photo: zain bhatti

Don’t Spend Your Miles on Magazines

Here’s what I wish I would have known eight eleven years ago when the “You’re losing the miles you’ve earned.   But… you could spend them on ‘free’ magazines!” letters came in the mail.   There’s a third choice.

I thought my miles would expire because I’d earned them too long ago.   I also thought the only way to get more miles was to get an a few more expensive and infrequent flights.   Wrong, and wrong!

Lucky for anyone who doesn’t have the vacation time or the money required for take-off, you don’t have to set foot on a plane to:

  1. keep your current miles from expiring
  2. earn new frequent flyer miles

How to Keep Your Miles From Expiring

What the airlines don’t mention is that often your miles are expiring from lack of activity.   In many cases, even if you just earned 50 new miles, the clock on your entire balance would be reset.

How do I keep my frequent flyer miles from expiring? But using these tricks to reset the clock on my balance

Don’t go wasting your hard-earned miles on magazines.   The airlines don’t tell you… you can often reset the clock on your balance and keep earning.   photo: tristan gassert

Game changer!

But how does one go about earning 50 little miles without spending a fortune or getting on a plane?   The answer is going to make you want to rack up a lot more than 50 new miles.

Earn Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying

The number one way to get a boatload of miles (we’re talking at least two free flights!) is to start travel hacking.

However, if you’re going to be like old-me and keep failing to open a travel credit card (because you think you don’t spend enough to matter 1you’re breaking my heart here!   You don’t have to spend $25,000 to earn 25,000 points.   You don’t even have to spend $4,000 to earn 50,000 points!…) there are lots of other ways to earn points.

If you need to earn points right-this-second to keep your balance from expiring, beware that miles from some schemes can take a few weeks to appear.

Frequent flyer miles are good for forever in some cases. How do I keep my miles from expiring? By racking them up all year long!

How long are frequent flyer miles good for? In same cases… forever! As long as you keep racking them up on
a regular basis. photo: tyler easton

Almost all mile-earning opportunities are tied to specific frequent flyer programs.   If you’re trying to save miles with a smaller program, you’ll have to Google.   Below are a few ways to earn on the big airlines without flying. (None of the links are affiliate links.)

Earn Delta Miles Without Flying

Delta miles don’t expire!   In case things change, some things you can do to earn non-flying miles:

Earn United Miles Without Flying

United miles expire after 18 months of balance inactivity.   Here are a few ideas to earn non-flying miles on United:

  • Find something on your list via their shopping portal.
  • Sign up for their dining program and grab a meal at a participating restaurant.
  • Rent a car from one of their partners.
  • Buy miles.   At the time of writing, you could get 1,000 miles for $35. 2This is a very expensive way to get miles, but an okay deal for a reset.
  • Stay with one of their hotel partners.

It’s possible to take surveys to earn points.   I did this when I first started travel hacking and went miles-crazy.   However, be prepared for an intense amount of associate junk email.   The three places to take point-earning surveys are: MyPoints,  e-Miles, and OpinionMilesClub.

Earn American Airlines Miles Without Flying

American AAdvantage Miles expire after 18 months of balance inactivity.   Some ways to earn non-flying miles on American:


1 you’re breaking my heart here!   You don’t have to spend $25,000 to earn 25,000 points.   You don’t even have to spend $4,000 to earn 50,000 points!
2 This is a very expensive way to get miles, but an okay deal for a reset.