Your Totally Comprehensive Guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage Rewards Program

Your Totally Comprehensive Guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage Rewards Program

If you are a fan of American Airlines or are thinking about getting a credit card with the airline, it is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of their frequent flyer program, which is called AAdvantage.

What Does It Mean to Be a Member of the AAdvantage Program at American Airlines?

American Airlines’ loyalty program is known as AAdvantage, and it awards points to frequent fliers. Members of AAdvantage earn one mile for every dollar spent on airline purchases, and those miles can be redeemed for a variety of travel-related rewards, including but not limited to free flights and hotel stays.

American Airlines is one of the world’s major commercial airlines. Together with its regional partner airline, American Eagle, the two airlines operate over 6,700 flights every day to a total of 350 locations across 50 countries.

On May 1, 1981, American Airlines launched AAdvantage, making it one of the very first airline loyalty programs ever created.

The history of American Airlines dates back to 1926 when Charles Lindbergh made the first flight for the company. This flight carried mail for the United States rather than passengers.

How Do You Become a Member of the AAdvantage Program Offered by American Airlines?

You can sign up for the AAdvantage program at no cost by going online, downloading the American Airlines mobile app, or obtaining a credit card that is branded with the American Airlines logo. After you have completed the enrollment process, American Airlines will provide you with a membership number, which is also referred to as your AAdvantage number. This number will need to be included in any future airline reservations and other purchases made with American Airlines.

What Do You Mean by the Term “Hubs” at American Airlines?

The principal hub in the United States of America, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), is located close to the corporate offices of American Airlines. There are nine additional airports in the United States that are considered hubs by American Airlines.

Pros

  • Valuable airline miles
  • There are several different ways to gain extra miles.
  • Numerous other airlines as partners

Cons

  • Award charts that are made public do not necessarily correspond to actual flight expenses for awards.
  • In contrast to the United MileagePlus program, hotel partners are not eligible to receive mileage transfers.

The Way to Make Money with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Once you have joined the frequent flyer program offered by American Airlines in order to accumulate miles, you have a variety of options at your disposal.

Fly American Airlines.

If you go on qualified flights operated by American Airlines or American Eagle within these regions, you will be able to accumulate AAdvantage miles:

  • Asia, United States of America
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • North and South America
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • South American nations
  • The South Pacific Area

Eligible flights are those that have been purchased with a qualified booking code (those are stated in the award charts on the American Airlines website), or that you are flying on a route that awards miles. Both of these requirements must be met in order for a flight to be considered eligible. Certain flights, such as companion and infant tickets, certain tickets purchased through a travel agency, and award tickets, do not qualify for the accumulation of miles flown.

The primary components of the cost of each ticket—the basic fare, as well as any surcharges imposed by the airline for things like seat selection or checked-bag costs—are used to calculate the number of miles you will earn for each journey. You will not accumulate miles for paying taxes or other payments required by the government.

You will get 5 miles for every $1 spent on the base cost of a booked flight if you are a member of the basic AAdvantage program. If you have elite status in the AAdvantage program, you will earn additional miles. (There will be more on this below)

Every time you fly with American Airlines, you may potentially earn up to 75,000 AAdvantage miles.

Fly on one of Our Partner Airlines. Like British Airways or Qantas

You can earn AAdvantage points by flying on more than 20 different partner airlines, many of which are also members of the Oneworld airline alliance. American Carriers is one of those airlines.

If you would like to earn AAdvantage miles by flying on a partner airline, you can either book the flights directly with the partner airline and provide your AAdvantage number when checking out, or you can log in to your AAdvantage account on the American Airlines website and book a partner flight through the travel portal.

How many miles will you earn for each flight taken on a partner airline? Concise response: It varies.

You will earn AAdvantage miles on most flights with partner airlines depending on a percentage of the travel distance and the fare class of your ticket. These factors are taken into consideration when determining how many miles you will earn (e.g. first or premium economy).

When purchasing economy tickets on a partner airline, you will often earn fewer miles than you would on a flight operated by American Airlines. For the majority of economy fare codes offered by British Airways, for instance, you will only earn miles equal to 25 or 50 percent of the base mileage amount. When you book premium tickets that are qualified for rewards, you will earn extra points.

It is possible that you won’t be able to earn AAdvantage points on certain partner flights; however, this is dependent on the route, the location, and which airline affiliate is running the partner flight. For instance, you are unable to accumulate AAdvantage points while flying on Hawaiian Airlines flights that are serviced by the Ohana brand.

The majority of American Airlines’ partner airlines, including those that aren’t a part of the Oneworld alliance, have their earning charts available online through American Airlines.

Make use of credit cards issued by American Airlines.

When you sign up for a credit card with the American Airlines brand, you have the opportunity to earn miles on a variety of expenses, even those that are not related to travel, and you can earn even more miles on purchases made with American Airlines. There are a few of these cards that Citi issues:

  • The American Airlines company Earns two miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made with American Airlines and on groceries with the AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard. One mile for every dollar spent on anything else.
  • With the AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, you earn two miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, as well as on purchases made at gas stations and restaurants. In addition, you earn one mile for every dollar spent on anything else.
  • Earn 2 miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made with American Airlines with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, and earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on everything else.
  • Earn two miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases made with American Airlines, telecommunication, cable and satellite providers, car rentals, and gas station purchases, in addition to earning one mile for every dollar spent on other purchases made with your CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard.

Additionally, Barclays provides customers with a selection of AAdvantage credit cards, which include the following:

  • Earn two miles for every dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases with the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, and earn one mile for every dollar spent on all other transactions with this card.

New cardholders who are able to satisfy the minimum spending criterion for these airline credit cards are eligible to receive a generous number of bonus miles. If you want to fast increase the number of miles you have in your account, opening one of these cards could be significant assistance.

Earning elite status with American Airlines is the only other way to access desirable American Airlines loyalty perks (such as early boarding and free checked bags), but this requires spending a significant amount of money with the airline first. If you do not have an American Airlines-branded credit card, this is the only other way. If additional airline advantages are something that you find appealing, you might want to consider opening a credit card with the airline’s brand on it.

Stay at any Partner Hotel, Including Hyatt, Marriott, or Other Hotels

When you make a reservation directly with a property that is affiliated with one of these hotel chains, you can earn rewards by providing your AAdvantage number or selecting American Airlines as your preferred airline for earning rewards:

  • Hotels and Resorts Managed by Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotels (such as Holiday Inn)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Hotels
  • Hotels and resorts operated by Wyndham

You are able to convert any unused hotel points that you have in your account with World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club, or Wyndham Rewards into AAdvantage miles. If you are looking to quickly rack up miles in preparation for an upcoming trip, this may be a nice option for you to consider. Since the conversion rates used by the various hotel programs are different, the information required can be found on the American Airlines website.

Other Methods That Can Be Used To Accumulate AAdvantage Miles

  • You can go on a cruise with Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, or one of the other 28 partners: Earn one mile for every dollar spent on most reservations made through an airline’s dedicated cruise booking platform or by calling a toll-free number.
  • Make a reservation with Avis, Budget, or one of the other partner car rental agencies: You will receive a discount on your rental, in addition to at least 500 miles for each reservation.
  • Make your trip plans with American Airlines and book a vacation package: You can earn miles by booking vacation packages, and some of these packages provide unique benefits for specific locations.
  • Participate in the Dining Program of AAdvantage: You can earn miles by linking your debit and credit cards and then using those cards at participating establishments, including restaurants, pubs, and clubs.
  • Use the American Airlines shopping portal to do your shopping: You can earn up to 30 miles for every dollar spent at one of the more than 950 participating stores if you log in with your AAdvantage account credentials.
  • Keep an eye on the page that lists American’s bonus offers: It allows you to earn bonus miles on a variety of activities, such as booking a hotel or rental vehicle, going shopping, going on vacation, and more.
  • AAdvantage points can be purchased with American Airlines: When you buy a significant number of miles at once, you’ll frequently be eligible for perks like bonus miles and price reductions. However, unless you only need a few more miles to exceed your award threshold, it is not usually worth the money to buy miles.

Have You Ever Been Denied Using Your American Airlines AAdvantage Miles?

As long as you continue to log in to your account on a regular basis, your AAdvantage miles will never become invalid. If you make a purchase with your AAdvantage miles or redeem them at least once every 18 months, the miles in your account will not expire.

In the event that your miles do become invalid, you have the option to revive up to 500,000 of them for a fee once every 18 months. The cost of reactivation will change depending on the number of miles that you request.

How to Make Use of Your AAdvantage Miles on American Airlines

There are a few different ways that AAdvantage points can be redeemed, but the most valuable use for them is you guessed it further airline travel.

Make Reservations for Flights with American Airlines

According to research conducted by The Balance, when AAdvantage miles are used to book award trips, each mile is equivalent to around 2.04 cents, making it the most valuable frequent flyer program offered by any major U.S. airline. If you use your miles to book international flights in addition to domestic ones, you might be able to get even more value out of them.

According to research conducted by The Balance’s valuation team, redeeming your miles for a premium seat on an international flight increases their value to an average of 3.2 cents each. If you have a large number of miles to use and want to get the most bang for your buck out of them, it may be worthwhile to splurge on a premium seat ticket. However, if you are flying within the United States, you should fly coach to conserve your miles.

American Airlines provides “web specials” for customers who are seeking for additional methods to make their miles go further. Web special tickets are limited-time deals that often have prices that are lower than what you’ll find in the official American Airlines reward chart. These tickets can be found on American Airlines’ website. The availability of web special tickets will vary depending on the flight and the dates of travel.

It is not standard practice for most U.S. airlines to publish their reward charts online; American Airlines is one of the few exceptions to this rule. According to research conducted by The Balance, however, listed flight prices are categorized differently than the award flight types identified on the charts (MileSAAver and AAnytime), and they frequently do not appear in flight search results. Furthermore, in some instances, the number of miles required to book the flight differs from what is listed in the award charts.

According to American Airlines, award flight rates have become more changeable in recent years as a result of an increased number of web special offers and other pricing considerations, such as the demand for tickets during peak travel seasons. That indicates that they are able to alter frequently, which they do. According to the airline, in today’s day and age, you are more likely to see award flights offered based on seat class or as a web special rather than as a MileSAAver or an AAnytime ticket. In addition, you are more likely to see award flights advertised as a web special.

“We’ll maintain the current award chart because customers have told us it provides a helpful guideline for redeeming miles,” an American Airlines spokesperson told The Balance in an email. “As customers continue to find web specials, the award chart may become less relevant over time,” the spokesperson added. “We’ll maintain the current award chart because customers have told us it provides a helpful guideline for redeeming miles.”

For the time being, it is recommended that you make use of the American Airlines award chart that has been published as a general planning reference to estimate flight costs. Searching for flights directly can provide you with more accurate information on prices.

Taxes and fees are applicable to each flight that was taken with an award, and they start at $5.60 per person, per award. You’ll be able to see how your trip’s origin and destination factor into the total taxes and fees that will be charged to you after you begin looking for the trip that you want.

You can book award flights directly on the American Airlines website by logging into your AAdvantage account, booking them over the phone, or using the free AAdvantage app, which is downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Make Reservations With One Of Our Partner Airlines

You can buy award tickets with any of American Airlines’ 19 partner airlines using your AAdvantage miles on aa.com. American Airlines also has two airline partners with which you can book award flights over the phone using your AAdvantage miles.

Award flight pricing and availability with Oneworld airlines and other partners are determined by the origin and destination of the flight, as well as the seat class (main cabin, premium economy, business/first, or first).

On the American Airlines website, you can find charts that are published for the company’s partner airlines that are quite similar to the American Airlines reward chart. If you want to get a basic sense of how much a ticket could cost you based on your travel plans, or if you want to know what award flights will be available at different periods of the year, the charts could be useful for you to consult. We still strongly suggest conducting individual flight searches on the American Airlines travel page in order to view the most recent flight information available.

Each and every partner award ticket is subject to taxes and fees, with a bare minimum of $5.60 per person and per award. This is the same policy that applies to American Airlines reward flights.

Buy Ticket Upgrades

When flying with American Airlines, British Airways, or Iberia, you can use your AAdvantage miles to upgrade your ticket to the next level (for example, you can use miles to move up from premium economy to business) if there are seats available at the higher level. You may find specifics on the partner upgrade page.

Additional Opportunities To Put Your American Airlines AAdvantage Miles To Use

You can also use your AAdvantage points for the following, but we don’t recommend doing so unless you absolutely have to (for example, your miles are due to expire or you’re canceling a credit card account), or the value per mile is higher than what you’d get by booking an award flight.

  • Membership at the Admirals Club airport lounge is provided by American Airlines
  • Make your hotel or car rental reservations.
  • Package deals for holidays
  • A subscription to a newspaper
  • Donations to charitable causes

It is not possible to exchange AAdvantage miles for cash back or other rewards that can be converted into cash, such as credits applied to your American Airlines credit card statement.

The American airline company’s AAdvantage Elite Status

Within the AAdvantage program, there are four degrees of elite status: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum. Each of these tiers comes with additional benefits from the airline, such as complimentary checked baggage and seat upgrades.

How Can One Achieve Elite Status

Flying a significant number of miles with American Airlines and other Oneworld airlines is the most direct route to achieving elite status in the AAdvantage program.

You will earn elite qualifying miles (EQMs), elite qualifying segments (EQSs), and elite qualifying dollars (EQDs) for every qualified flight that you take with American Airlines and one of its partners (EQDs). Now, don’t let your eyes glaze over yet. The following is a list of what those acronyms stand for:

  • EQMs are the number of miles that you have flown as well as the type of ticket that you purchased to fly those miles.
  • EQSs: The number of flight segments that qualify as having been flown by you.
  • EQDs are equal to the amount you’ve spent on aircraft tickets less any applicable taxes and fees levied by the government.

On its website, American Airlines provides guides that explain how passengers can advance their elite status by flying with American Airlines or one of its partner airlines.

According to the table that can be found below, in order to qualify for each subsequent level of elite status, you will need to have accumulated a particular number of EQMs, EQDs, and EQSs. You’re going to need the necessary amount for two different categories:

  • EQDs + EQMs, or EQDs + EQSs

Your status is determined by the qualifications you achieve between the 1st of January and the 31st of December of every given year that you fly. After meeting the requirements, your membership will be valid for the following calendar year. AAdvantage elite status is equivalent to elite levels in Oneworld, which means that depending on the tier, you may be eligible for certain perks associated with Oneworld status. These privileges may include access to lounges and priority boarding.

The annual qualifications that follow are valid through the year 2021:

American Airlines has extended their elite credentials until January 31, 2022, with the exception of those that will expire this year. Anyone who achieves elite rank in 2021 maintains it until the 31st of January in 2023. Your elite level qualifying for 2021 will be determined based on the number of flights you took between October 1 and December 31, 2020. Last but not least, from now until 2021, if you spend $30,000 using credit cards offered by American Airlines that qualify for the Platinum Pro, Platinum, or Gold status, you can get the EQD criteria for those statuses removed.

The Advantages of Holding an Elite Status

If you put in the time and effort required to achieve elite status in the AAdvantage program, you will be rewarded with expedited check-in, security screening, and boarding, in addition to a discount on an Admirals Club membership if you decide to sign up for one.

Additionally, the number of miles you earn on flight purchases (not including taxes and fees) will rise as you progress through the status levels:

  • 7 miles for each dollar spent on AAdvantage Gold 8 miles for each dollar spent on AAdvantage Platinum 9 miles for each dollar spent on AAdvantage Platinum Pro 11 miles for each $13 spent on AAdvantage Executive Platinum

Your status level determines whether you are eligible for additional benefits, such as complimentary checked baggage, automatically requested upgrades and seat selection options. For further details regarding the privileges afforded to elite AAdvantage members, please refer to the American Airlines website.

The Conclusion 

In general, the AAdvantage program offered by American Airlines provides its loyal customers with a wide range of opportunities to earn miles that are worth a significant amount of money. If you sign up for a credit card that is co-branded with an airline, you will be able to earn miles on everyday transactions that are not related to travel and gain access to airline advantages that are normally only available to customers who have achieved elite status. Without a credit card, obtaining an elite status requires a significant amount of money, time on the road, or both. If you want to get the most value out of each AAdvantage mile when it comes time to redeem them, your best bet is to utilize them to book overseas flights.

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