INSIDER SECRET: You can earn miles for flights taken up to 12 months ago with some airlines.

If you’ve just recently started collecting miles and points, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by how long it will take you to earn enough miles for your next free flight. While you can certainly rack up miles through future flights and by earning big welcome bonuses from the best credit cards for travel, you may be surprised to hear that you can actually earn miles for flights you’ve taken in the past. In fact, many airlines allow you to claim earned miles on flights taken up to 12 months ago.

I’ll show you how to determine if you qualify and how you can claim miles earned on past flights.

If you are just starting out with miles and points, the first thing you’ll want to do is register for airline frequent flyer accounts. Since these accounts are typically free, you should register with any airlines that you plan to fly in the future and certainly with any airlines you have flown in the last year.

Once your account is set up, you’ll be able to see a history of flights you take with each airline. If you registered some time after completing your most recent flight with an airline, your account won’t show any flight history. In that case, you’ll need to request that your past flights be credited to your frequent flyer account. You will need both your ticket number and your frequent flyer membership number for the request, and some airlines will also ask for a copy of your boarding pass.

The actual request process is pretty straightforward:

Each airline has a slightly different policy regarding when you can request credit, so take a look at the table below for a summary of major US airlines. Each airline’s policy is summarized for:

  • How long after travel you can request credit
  • If you had to be a member at the time of the flight

Some airlines won’t give you credit unless you were a member of their program when you took the flight. If your airlines has this policy and you just signed up, you’re out of luck.

Airline membership requirements for travel rewards.
Airline membership requirements for travel rewards.
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*This policy was not explicitly stated on the airline website but was verified through airline representatives.

Most airlines will also allow you to earn credit for partner flights (if you booked your flight through one airline for travel on another). You can request credit for past partner airline flights using the same links.

If you are new to collecting miles and points, you may be able to earn miles for flights taken up to a year ago. If you already have frequent flyer accounts, you can also go back and request your miles if you forgot to enter your membership number while booking. Each airline has a slightly different policy, so be sure to check out the links above to determine if you are eligible to receive credit for past flights.

This story was originally written on Million Mile Secrets. For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

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