Many members of American's AAdvantage frequent flier program recently received an email reminder that their reward miles are in danger. Here's the key quote: "Effective December 15, 2007, mileage balances will expire from AAdvantage accounts that have not had miles either earned or redeemed within the previous eighteen (18) month period. This change will not impact you as long as you remain active in the AAdvantage program." In other words, American will be deleting the miles in any account that has been stagnant for 18 months, as of mid-December.
Luckily, you can keep your miles alive--even if you don't fly. For example, you can redeem some of your miles to buy magazines or other products by shopping at aadvantageshopping.com. This spending counts as "activity," keeping the rest of your miles alive for another 18 months. One cheap option is to buy a bag of Starbucks coffee beans from--of all places--Sears.com, for $11.
Budget Travel recently published an online chart of the best options for saving miles on American and seven other major airlines--Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Northwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways. Click here to see the online version of the chart. Correction: In the chart that accompanied this blog post and the article in the magazine, we erroneously said that a participant in American Airlines' reward program could keep their account active by buying a gift card from partner Starbucks. Instead, you need to buy a bag of coffee via Starbuck's retail website StarbucksStore.com. Thanks to reader R. Giovinazzo for noticing the error.