BOSTON (CBS) – Using frequent flyer miles can be one of the great frustrations before you travel, often because you have to navigate a complicated maze of rules and expiration dates.

Check: More Frequent Flyer Mile Tips

In the past 30 years, travelers have earned millions of free flights using frequent flyer miles.

Over the last decade, all those frequent flier miles cost the airlines a fortune, so many of the them adopted a “use them or lose them” policy.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

In many cases now, the frequent flier miles are only good for about six months, which is a huge inconvenience for travelers who aren’t paying attention and don’t get a notice from their airline.

George Hobica of says for most airlines, extending those points is as easy as spending a few points on the airline’s online shopping mall.

“You could buy a tube of toothpaste at, $1.99 and your miles will be extended for another 12 to 18 months,” said Hobica.

You can also earn miles shopping at many of your favorite stores as long, as you access them through the airline malls.

So, if you buy a $2,600 refrigerator, that equates to 5,200 points, and you are almost a quarter of the way to a free ticket with that one purchase.

“People can get a free ticket very, very easily just by buying high-ticket items on the airline malls,” said Hobica.

What’s better than earning a vacation by just buying the things you need?


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