40% of People Never Use their Frequent Flyer Miles! Here are 3 non-Flight Ways to Use Them

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There are a lot of people who never redeem their frequent flyer miles. Exactly how many? According to this article, 40% of people never use their miles! Whether they forget about them, don’t have enough to redeem for a trip or just don’t have the time to travel. Whatever the reason is, there’s not really any excuse to let them go to waste into never travel land. They’ve been earned! If you sincerely feel that you have no use for them there are few options of things you can do with them that will give you good karma points.

One option is to donate them. There are so many organizations that can benefit from your unused miles–from emergency efforts to fulfilling a last wish.

Oklahoma Tornado Victims- Red Cross

After the unfortunate and devastating disasters from in Oklahoma caused by the  tornados, the American RedCross is accepting mileage donations to bring volunteers and staff to disaster stricken areas. The RedCross accepts Delta, United and US Airways miles for donations year-round.

To donate airline miles or for more information, visit their website: United Airlines or US Airways. To donate Delta miles, send an email to delta.bids@delta-air.com with your SkyMiles number, the number of miles you want to donate, and specify the Red Cross as the charity.

Dream Foundation

The Dream Foundation gives adults who are in a terminally ill condition the chance to have a final dream or wish come true. Often it’s simple wishes like having a family member who lives in a different state visit them, but can’t afford the cost of a plane ticket. They have the names and wish of every person who has made a request and you can make a specific donation towards someone’s dream or donate to a general account. They accept mile donations from United and Alaska airlines.

To donate airline miles or for more information, visit their website.

Make a Wish Foundation

Donations to the Make a Wish Foundation help make the dreams of terminally ill minors come to true. Make a Wish Foundation accepts mileage donations from United, US Airways and Delta Airlines. They also accept miles from JetBlue with their TrueBlue program, which are the only miles that are actually converted into cash for a charity of your choice! So your donated miles could cover the amusement park entry fee of a child who wishes to visit Disneyland with his or her family.

To donate airline miles or for more information, visit their website.

Hero Miles

Hero Miles is a program that allows wounded soldiers to return home from their VA medical facility or allows family members of wounded soldiers to visit them in VA hospitals. The program offers round trip airfare even if they are not approved for a government grant to travel. Donatable airline miles include AirTran, Frontier, American Airlines, Delta, Alaska, United and US Airways.

To donate airline miles or for more information, visit their website.  

Other ways to redeem your points

Go shopping. Most or all airline awards programs have a shopping portal with stores and brands from Nordstroms, Sunglass Hut or Bloomingdales. If you aren’t interested in online shopping, then redeem your points for gift cards.

AAdvantage Shopping
Delta SkyMall
US Airways Storefront
United Airlines Shopping
Southwest RapidRewards

Another way to prevent your miles from going to waste is to gift them. If someone’s birthday is coming up use it to book them a hotel room at a beach town or just for a weekend getaway. Or, even better, get yourself a much deserved mini-vacation! Even if you don’t have enough points to redeem for a flight, you might be able to use your miles to book hotel rooms. If you check out your airline’s hotel awards booking you may find that you have enough points for a free night at a luxury hotel. You may also be able to transfer your miles to partner airlines to round out your balance to have enough to book an award ticket. Make sure to check the terms and conditions of your miles to make sure they’re eligible for transfer.


Don’t let you miles go to waste! Not using airline miles is like throwing away money, a free vacation or letting a good deed slip by. There are plenty of opportunities to use your miles without even leaving the ground. Donate them. Gift them. Shop with them. Book a friend a weekend getaway. Just make sure you use them!

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Extra tips on how to maximize your rewards

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About The Author

Rand Shoaf

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, and recommendations on this site are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any bank, card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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