How to Earn Free Miles With American Airlines AAdvantage

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American Airlines is one of the largest domestic US airlines. Together with partners in the oneWorld program, American Airlines flies to thousands of destinations worldwide. Like most airlines, AA offers a lucrative rewards program, known as AAdvantage. Let’s take a close look at the AAdvantage program and all that it offers!

American Airlines Status Levels

If you regularly fly American Airlines, you are probably aware that they offer Elite Status to loyal members. There are four different status tiers, each of which offers different benefits and requirements. Status levels range from Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum.

To earn status, you must complete certain mileage or trip requirements. See the chart below for details:

EQM stands for Elite Qualifying Mile

EQD stands for Elite Qualifying Dollar
EQS stands for Elite Qualifying Segment

All requirements must be completed within a calendar year, in order to earn status for the following calendar year.

As for the benefits of various AAdvantage elite statuses, there are quite a few noteworthy perks. Members with status can enjoy complimentary upgrades, bonus mileage earning on paid flights, exclusive benefits at the airport, reduced or waived fees, and complimentary benefits with OneWorld partners. For all the details, check out AA’s site.

Earning American Airlines Miles

The AAdvantage program allows you to earn American Airlines miles which can later be redeemed for free flights and other perks. There are a couple different ways to earn AAdvantage miles, as detailed below.

Earning AA Miles on American Airlines Flights

When flying on American Airlines flights, the base earning rate is 5 miles per $1 spent. That means a $800 ticket would earn you 4,000 miles. If you hold Elite status, you will earn bonus miles: Gold members earn 7 points per $1 spent, Platinum 8/$1, Platinum Pro 9/$1, and Executive 11 miles per $1 spent.

You can also earn bonus AA miles on partner flights on the 15+ OneWorld partners, plus 10+ other partners that are not part of OneWorld. Earning rates on these partners vary, so check here for details.

Earning AA Miles via American Airlines Credit Cards

American Airlines is partnered with both Citibank and Barclays to offer US-based customers lucrative credit cards. Citi’s cards are more popular, and earn at the following rates.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

  • Earns 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Earns 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Offers first checked bag free on AA flights
  • Earns 10% rebate on used miles (book a flight for 25,000 miles, get 2,500 back)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access reduced mileage awards for select routes
  • $95 annual fee – waived for the first year
  • Comes with a 60,000 mile signup bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months!
  • There is also a business version of this card that offers very similar benefits.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

  • Earns 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Earns 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Offers first checked bag free on AA flights
  • Complimentary Admirals Club membership (airport lounges)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Complimentary fee credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check
  • Chance to earn elite qualifying miles after meeting certain spend requirements
  • $450 annual fee – not waived the first year
  • Comes with a 50,000 mile signup bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months!

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red

  • Earns 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines purchases
  • Earns 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Offers first checked bag free on AA flights
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 10% miles rebate after booking a flight
  • $95 annual fee, not waived first year
  • Comes with a 50,000 mile signup bonus after making a single purchase in the first 3 months!

Transfer to AAdvantage from Hotel Partners

You can also transfer points you earn at select hotel partners to American Airlines to top off your mileage stash. Partners include SPG, Marriott, IHG and more. Transfer rates vary – check here for details.

Other Ways to Earn AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines is partnered with – literally – over 1,000 partners. This offers you a TON of ways to earn bonus AA miles, including on car rentals, dining, shopping, cruises, and more. Check here for all the details.

Redeeming American Airlines Miles

So, you’ve earned ‘em – now comes the fun part: actually redeeming your miles! American Airlines publishes a full and detailed award chart, which can be found here.

As you can see, domestic one-way tickets in the US start at 7,500 miles. Flights to Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean start at 15,000 each way, with Europe starting at 30,000 miles each way. All these rates are for economy-class travel, but AA offers some good deals on business/first class travel, as well. And remember, if you hold one of the premium AA credit cards, you’ll get a 10% rebate on redemptions, which can kick-start your mile stash for your next trip.

There is one issue, though: American Airlines doesn’t generally have a whole lot of award space available, particularly for certain regions. You can go here to search for award flights. Generally speaking, you’ll want to book several months in advance, and ideally have flexible travel dates. As far as availability for saver awards goes, American Airlines is lacking a bit.

American Airlines Summary

Overall, American Airlines has a very lucrative loyalty program. The impressive selection of high-value credit cards makes it very easy to earn huge signup bonuses, while ongoing mileage earning opportunities are also quite generous. In brief, AA miles are quite easy to earn. On the downside, saver award flight availability tends to be pretty low, which can make it tricky to find the flights you want on the dates you want. Hopefully AA opens up some more award space in the future.

Caroline Lupini

In 2011, with a four-week trip around Europe, Caroline became a true road warrior. Caroline likes to mix roughing it and luxury on her travels, sometimes staying in five-star hotels and other times in hostels. Her mantra: splurge…
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  • Annual Fee:
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  • Foreign Fees:
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  • Card Type: Bank

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee:
    $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees:
    No
  • Card Type: Bank


Apply Now
Add to Favorites
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Apply Now

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