Save your miles from expiring

Plane with clouds

When frequent flyer programs began in the 1980s there was no expiration date on the miles travelers earned.

That allowed even occasional flyers to sign up and save for a nice vacation -- or at least a trip to the in-laws.

But most of the major airlines have begun wiping out inactive accounts. Initially they defined that as accounts that had not earned or redeemed miles for three years. Now United, American and US Airways have cut that to 18 months.

If you have a frequent flyer account with an airline you haven't flown recently, call now to check on your status and find out what you need to do to retain all your miles.

That doesn't mean you'll have to jump on a plane. You can remain in the good graces of most frequent flyer programs -- and earn a few hundred more miles -- at an array of participating merchants, hotels and rental car companies.

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