We rate the American Airlines AAdvantage program very highly. Despite changes in recent years, it still offers relatively easy to achieve status, good status benefits and excellent partner airlines. With its long history, AAdvantage has built of plenty of ways to build up mileage. We share here some of the best!
1. Earn with American Airlines
The first, and most obvious, way to pick up miles is to fly with American! For many travelers, this is not as lucrative as it was in the past. These days, American offers a revenue based system for its own flights. You earn miles per dollar spent on tickets. This includes base fare and airline charges, but not government taxes and fees. Those who regularly travel with low priced economy tickets will lose out, but higher priced premium cabin tickets may earn much more than in the past.
In the past mileage was based on distance, with almost all fares earning at least 100% of the actual mileage flown. The move away from this system is unfortunate for earning mileage, but not unique to American Airlines. This is a trend across the industry and is now followed by all main US based airline, with the exception of Alaska Airlines.
Miles are earned per dollar spent, but with a bonus offered for higher status members:
AAdvantage basic member – 5 miles per USD
Gold member – 7 miles per USD (40% bonus)
Platinum member – 8 miles per USD (60% bonus)
Platinum Pro member – 9 miles per USD (80% bonus)
Executive Platinum member – 11 miles per USD (120% bonus)
2. Earn miles with Oneworld partner airlines
American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance, and as such miles can be earned on flights with any alliance member. These include:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- LATAM Airlines Brazil (formerly TAM)
- LATAM Airlines Chile (formerly LAN)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Flights with partners earn miles based on distance flown, not the ticket price as with American flights. This can be a great boost to miles earning, especially for lower priced economy tickets.
Miles are earned based on the flight distance and the booking class / inventory code of the ticket. Tables on the AAdvantage website show the rates for each airline. These are generally 0% to 50% for discount economy, 75% to 100% for higher and full price economy, and 100% or more for premium cabins. Premium cabins generally award 100% plus a cabin bonus.
It is worth checking the tables for airlines you plan to use careful as there are some unexpected jumps! Also, be aware that some booking codes do not earn any miles (and as such these would also not qualify for elite status credits). These are clearly shown in tables.
3. American and Oneworld partner bonuses
A great benefit of the AAdvantage program is the mileage bonuses offered for elite members. Gold and higher members receive a bonus on any qualifying flight with most Oneworld partners (excluding some, such as S7 Airlines and SriLankan)
This bonus is based on the base mileage earned and is set as follows:
- Gold – 40%
- Platinum – 60%
- Platinum Pro – 80%
- Executive Platinum – 120%
4. Earn more miles with AA “Special fares”
Just as with tickets with partner airlines, there are some fares on American where AAdvantage cannot use the fare to calculate mileage. These so-called “special fares” will instead award miles based on distance rather than cost. These are generally tickets sold through specific agents or as part of a package, where the “airfare” component can’t be identified. These also often include tickets redeemed through Amex, Citi or Chase points – worth checking if you are issuing tickets that way.
According to AAdvantage, the following fares are included:
- Bulk fares
- Cruise fares
- Consolidator fares
- Discounted or inclusive tour packages
- Vacation packages, including select American Airlines Vacations packages.
And the mileage earned in awarded according to the following table:
How well this works out of course depends on the fare versus distance, but in general it works very well for lower priced tickets! If you find yourself looking at such special tickets, this is well worth considering.
5. Earn with non-Oneworld partners
American Airlines has strategic relationships with a number of non Oneworld airlines. These partnerships are not all the same (some airlines are eligible only for redemption or earning, not both, for example) and there are often changes (Jet Airways and Gulf Air for example have recently ended partnerships).
Airlines where miles can be earned include Etihad Airways, Alaska Airlines, Fiji Airways and Hawaiian Airlines. Note that although miles are earned, there are no status qualifying miles (EQM) awarded for these partners, nor are there elite bonuses.
As with Oneworld partners, mileage is awarded based on distance and fare booking code. These are earning tables for all airlines on the AAdvantage website.
6. Purchase miles via “Mileage Multiplier”
Whenever purchasing a ticket through AA.com you are offered the chance to increase the miles earned through the “Mileage Multiplier” scheme. Offers vary depending on the ticket purchased but in general you can purchase double or triple the base miles of the trip.
Pricing usually works out about 3c per mile, and you would generally get a better deal from other earning methods, or even purchasing with one of the regular promotions offered. Still, if you need a certain boost in mileage, perhaps to reach a specific award target, this can be a good option.
7. Earn bonuses on specific routes
AAdvantage regularly has special offers for mileage earning. These can be on certain routes, with certain airlines (partners as well as American) or for premium cabins. These are usually for a fixed bonus for purchasing a specific ticket – but offers vary! Members should receive notification of these, but keep an eye on the AA website.
There are less offers than in the past on domestic and regional routes with AA. Recent offers though have included fixed bonuses for taking transatlantic routes.
8. Earn miles with AA credit cards
American Airlines has partnered with credit card providers in many countries. Such co-branded cards are a great way to enhance mileage earning, with miles awarded for everyday spending.
AAdvanatge / Citi cards
In the United States, the main partnership is with Citi, and a range of cards are offered. Check details on the AAdvantage cards site as these change frequently. Currently these include:
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite card. Earns 2 miles per dollar with AA, gas stations and restaurants, 1 mile per dollar for other spend. Includes free checked bag on domestic AA routes. Annual fee $99
- Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite card. Earns 2 miles per dollar at AA, and 1 mile for other spend. It adds more benefits with AA including a checked bag for up to 8 people, Admirals Club membership for cardholder and a guest, and reimbursement for Global Entry / TSA Precheck. Annual fee $450
- AAdvantage MileUp card. Earns 2 miles per dollar with AA and at grocery stores, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere. on all spend. No annual fee.
- CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select card. Earns 2 miles per dollar with AA and with cable, satellite and telecommunications provides, car rentals and gas stations, 1 miles elsewhere. Annual fee $99.
AAdvantage Barclays cards
American also offers cards with Barclays, with similar earning structures. Options include:
- AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard. Earns 2 miles per dollar with AA, and 1 mile elsewhere. There is a new card due May 2019. In the past there was a popular benefit of 10% mileage award rebate, but this is no longer offered.
- AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard. Earns 2 miles per dollar with AA and at eligible office supply, telecom and car rental merchants. 1 mile per dollar elsewhere. Annual fee $95.
Outside the US, there are partnerships in many countries. These change often, but are generally very strong in the Americas but not in Europe (there used to be options and this may change in the future). Full details and list of card partners can be found on the AAdvantage website.
9. Take advantage of credit card signup bonuses
Many cards offer a one-off mileage bonus for new cardholders. These are well worth taking advantage of for a big boost in miles! It is of course possible to do this with multiple card provides, although check carefully the terms if you have held cards before as you may not get a bonus a second time.
Standard offers on the Citi cards are for 50,000 bonus miles with a spend of $2,500 within 3 months. There are regular offers that increase this to 75,000 miles though.
10. Use the Marriott-SPG credit card
Using the Marriott-SPG branded card is another option to earn miles with credit card spend. This is a good choice for those who want the option to have either airline miles or hotel points or for those in a market where there is no specific AA branded card (It is available for example in the UK with American Express).
There are various card options, but most award hotel points at the rate of 6 points per dollar at Marriott and SPG hotels, and 2 points per dollar for all spend elsewhere. There are also attractive sign up bonuses.
These points can then be converted to AA miles at a rate of 3:1. In addition, there is a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points converted – so plan conversions carefully!
11. Buy AAdvantage miles
Like most mileage programs, American offer the possibility to simply purchase miles for your account. This is relatively expensive (10,000 miles for example is priced at $330, and 100,000 miles at $2985). Of course, if you have a specific redemption in mind though this can work out.
But there are regular bonuses which can make purchasing much better value! These vary but typically offer bonuses of 20% to 50%. Sign up for notifications and AA will inform you when they run these (usually a few times per year).
12. Earn miles with high annual Elite Qualifying Miles
For the very frequent flier there is another way to pick up miles. AAdvantage Executive Platinum status is awarded once a member reaches 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). But for continued earning there is an option to earn bonus miles!
At each milestone of 150k, 200k and 205k EQM an additional reward of 40,000 miles can be chosen (alternatively you can choose 2 systemwide upgrades or to gift status to another member).
13. Earn bonus miles with Million Miler program
Another goal for the very frequent flyer! American operate a lifetime status program known as “Million Miler.” As well as offering lifetime gold or platinum AAdvanatge status this also awards bonus miles for achievement!
- At 1 million miles: member receives lifetime AAdvantage Gold status. In addition, there is a bonus of 35,000 miles.
- At 2 million miles: member receives AAdvantage Platinum status and systemwide upgrades, but unfortunately no extra miles!
14. Earn miles with everyday shopping – the AAdvantage eShopping Mall
AAdvantage operates an extensive online shopping portal, known as AAdvantage eShopping Mall.
This works in a similar way to other shopping portals and cashback sites, where once registered, you click through to the retailer you are interested in. Miles are then credited based on your final spend with that retailer.
There are currently over 950 shopping partners, and deals and earning offers change regularly. Partners include many US retailers (such as Macy’s, Best Buy and Home Depot) as well as international chains such as IHG Hotels. There are frequent special offers or earning bonuses – it is worth checking regularly!
15. AAdvantage’s extra shopping bonuses
AAdvantage regularly offers additional bonus miles for purchases through the eShopping Mall. These are not usually related to specific retailers, but instead are a time limited offer for bonus miles for cumulative spend through the portal. There are frequently offers around sales and peak spending times, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the sales periods, but offers can appear anytime!
A recent offer for example gave 1,000 bonus miles for any $300 spend in the first week of the new year.
16. Use the AAdvantage Dining Program
The AAdvantage Dining Program is another good way to get miles for everyday spending. This offers miles based on spend at over 10,000 restaurants across the United States. Simply sign up for an account, then link cards to be used at participating restaurants.
Earning is based on status with the Dining Program – and it is very easy to reach VIP status and earn much more mileage:
- Basic member (just sign up) earns 1 mile per dollar
- Select member (simply for email alerts) earns 3 miles per dollar
- VIP member (reached after 12 meals in 12 months) earns 5 miles per dollar
17. Earn miles with hotel stays
AAdvanatge has partnerships in place to earn miles with stays at most of the leading hotel chains globally. This is an excellent way for the frequent traveler to build up miles!
Earning rates differ for each brand. With some you can earn miles as well as hotel points, for other it is a choice. And at some brands you receive miles based on total spend, whilst at others they are offered at a fixed rate per stay. Full details are kept updated on the AAdvantage website.
Some of the main partners to keep in mind include:
- Marriott and SPF hotels. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent at most brands, 1 miles per dollar at a few.
- IHG hotels. Earn 2 miles per dollar spent at most brands, 1 miles per dollar at Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites.
- Hyatt Hotels. Earn 500 miles per stay.
- Best Western Hotels. Earn 250 miles per stay.
- Choice Hotels. Earn 250 miles per stay.
- Radisson Hotels. Earn 500 miles per stay at most brands, 250 per stay at Country Inn & Suites and Park Inn.
- Shangri La Hotels. Earn 500 miles per stay.
- Wyndham Hotels. 1 or 2 miles per dollar, deepening on your status with Wyndham.
18. Transfers from hotel programs
As well as earning miles from hotel stays it is possible to transfer points from many hotel loyalty programs into AAdvantage.
In general, with most loyalty programs, you can get better value using points where they are earned. We would always suggest checking carefully before you transfer. Of course this can work out well if you have a specific redemption target, or mileage balances you do not plan to use.
Transfers are possible from many of the programs where miles can be earned. One important addition is Hilton Hotels, where you can no longer earn miles from stays but you can transfer. As always, current rates are best checked on the AAdvantage website.
Some example of conversion rates, including for Hilton Hotels.
19. Car hire
Miles can be earned with car rentals at most major companies, including Avis, Budget, Hertz, Payless, Alamo, National, Dollar, Thrifty, Europcar and Sixt. Miles are generally awarded per rental (and Avis offer higher rates for higher level AA members), though a few credit per day or per dollar spent.
Note also that AAdvantage provide discount / corporate codes for most of the main rental companies. Compare these with any others you may have access to, but they are usually quote competitive.
20. Vacation packages
US based members can earn miles by booking vacation packages (flights, hotels and cars) with AA Vacations. This is possible for travel globally – but must start from the US. Miles, and bonuses, offered vary but can be quite attractive – it is worth comparing if planning such a vacation. In a similar way, cruises booked through AA will earn miles.
21. Earn miles with financial and other partners
AAdvantage has partnerships with a large number of other service providers. These are mostly based in the United States, but for members there these can offer some great additional miles on things they were already considering!
As always, there are full lists and details on the AAdvanatge website. Some options that will earn miles include:
- Banking activity with Bank Direct
- Investment with Betterment
- Medical and transportation assistance with Emergency Assistance Plus
- Switching to energy supplier Gexa Energy, NRG or Reliant
- Pet sitting services with Rover
22. Sign up to take surveys
One way that anyone can earn miles is to sign up for surveys. AAdvantage has a couple of partners – eRewards and Miles for Opinions. You simply sign up with these providers, link your AAdvantage account, and take surveys as you wish targeted to your profile. Earning vary per survey, in general these are small – but they can add up!
23. Transfer miles from another account
And finally – it’s not really earning, but you can always transfer miles to your account from others! This is worth checking, if you have friends or family with small balances or miles that they don’t plan to use. It is better than letting them expire!
There is a charge for this (currently $140 for 10,000 miles plus a service fee) and each member can only receive or gift 200,000 per year.
The AAdvantage program is full of ways to earn miles – and is one of our favorite programs partly for this reason!
AAdvantage is sometimes criticized for earning as it is not possible to transfer points from Citi or American Express to AAdvantage. Whilst this is an unfortunate disadvantage, we feel the many other earnings possibilities make up for this.
The US based member is spoiled for choice with many options above just flying – a wide range of credit cards, comprehensive shopping and dining portals and partnerships with cars, hotels and many other service providers.
Outside the US , there are still good options with mileage earning possible with most major hotel and car companies, amongst other options.And of course airlines too – earnings are strong and it is good to see the Oneworld airline partners being joined by several other key partners for mileage earning.