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Your ultimate guide to American Airlines AAdvantage

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American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and its AAdvantage loyalty program is popular with many travelers. While AAdvantage has seen some changes over the last few years — including the removal of published award charts — you can still get a ton of value from the program, especially if you can utilize its sweet spots.

In 2022, American completely overhauled how flyers qualify for AAdvantage elite status. Rather than being based solely on flying, you now earn Loyalty Points across various activities in the AAdvantage program — including spending on American Airlines cobranded credit cards, shopping through online shopping portals and dining.

Here’s everything you need to know about the American AAdvantage loyalty program.

American Airlines partners

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

American Airlines is part of the Oneworld alliance; therefore, you can earn and redeem miles with a handful of international partners. American elite members often get benefits, such as lounge access and an extra baggage allowance, when flying with partner airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways (Oneworld Connect member)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

The airline also partners with a handful of airlines outside of Oneworld, including:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Cape Air
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Gol Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • IndiGo
  • JetBlue
  • JetSmart
  • Silver Airways

However, each partner has its own criteria on how you can earn or redeem miles with American, so be sure to review the specific partner page for full details.

American Airlines elite status

American Airlines elite status can help you get upgraded to business class. CHRIS DONG/THE POINTS GUY

American AAdvantage has four public levels of elite status — Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum — plus an invite-only level called Concierge Key.

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AAdvantage members earn Loyalty Points when they fly on American or spend with a cobranded credit card or with select AAdvantage partners. In general, 1 base mile earned is equal to one Loyalty Point. So, if you earn 500 base miles on an American Airlines flight, you earn 500 Loyalty Points. Likewise, spending $1,000 on a cobranded credit card would earn 1,000 Loyalty Points.

Here’s the number of Loyalty Points you must earn during the current qualification period — March 1, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024 — for each elite status tier:

  • Gold: 40,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points

As an AAdvantage Gold member, you’ll get a 40% mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats at check-in (when available), and one free checked bag on itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines.

Meanwhile, Platinum members get a 60% mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats at booking (when available) and two free checked bags on itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines.

Platinum Pro members get an 80% mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats at booking (when available) and three free checked bags on itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines.

Finally, Executive Platinum members get a 120% mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats at booking (when available) and three free checked bags on itineraries marketed and operated by American Airlines.

All AAdvantage elite members have access to complimentary upgrades on American-marketed and -operated flights within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Central America for themselves and one companion. Complimentary upgrades on award flights are available to elite members, though it is not a guarantee that you will secure an upgrade on your flight.

AAdvantage elite members get Oneworld status, which provides perks when flying on other Oneworld airlines. Specifically, AAdvantage Gold members get Oneworld Ruby, Platinum members get Oneworld Sapphire, and Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members get Oneworld Emerald status.

Even if you don’t have elite status with American, there are some notable perks to being an AAdvantage member. American AAdvantage announced the following exclusive benefits for AAdvantage members in 2024 (including entry-level members with no elite status):

  • The ability to voluntarily cancel basic economy tickets for a partial travel trip credit for a $99 fee
  • Complimentary 24-hour ticket holds
  • The ability to purchase single-use Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge entry
  • The ability to take an earlier flight on the same day at no extra cost

Also new in 2024 is the ability to redeem Loyalty Points Rewards for additional Loyalty Points to help members reach their elite status goals.

You can choose:

  • 1,000 bonus Loyalty Points (after earning 15,000 Loyalty Points)
  • 5,000 bonus Loyalty Points (after earning 175,000 Loyalty Points)
  • 15,000 bonus Loyalty Points (after earning 250,000 Loyalty Points)

Related: American Airlines unveils 10 changes to the AAdvantage program

Coming later in 2024 is the ability to earn redeemable miles and additional Loyalty Points on premium-cabin upgrades paid with cash.

How to earn AAdvantage miles

There are many ways to earn AAdvantage miles. Below is a summary of the top ways.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Fly on American Airlines

When you fly on an American-marketed flight, you’ll usually earn miles according to your ticket’s base price — without taxes and fees. The miles you earn also vary based on your AAdvantage elite status. The higher your status, the more miles you will earn.

Here’s how many miles each status tier earns per dollar spent:

  • Member (no status): 5 miles
  • Gold: 7 miles
  • Platinum: 8 miles
  • Platinum Pro: 9 miles
  • Executive Platinum: 11 miles

Related: How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Fly on partner airlines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You can also earn AAdvantage miles on flights marketed by American’s partners. For most partners, you’ll earn miles and Loyalty Points based on flight distance. However, the exact earning rate depends on the fare class of your ticket. Here’s an example of the earning chart for Qantas-operated flights:

AA.COM

Get and use American Airlines credit cards

JOHN GRIBBEN/THE POINTS GUY

One of the easiest ways to earn American AAdvantage miles is through American Airlines credit cards. Here’s a list of current offers:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 70,000 miles after you spend $7,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 4 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 10 miles per dollar spent on eligible car rentals and hotels booked through American’s car rental and hotel booking sites. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases. Earn 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year. Earn another 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in the same status qualification year (see rates and fees).
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on gas station, restaurant and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases plus telecom merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rentals and gas stations. Earn 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®: Earn 15,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on grocery store and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the annual fee in full in the first 90 days. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, plus another 25,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first 12 months. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on office supply, telecom, car rental and eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, AAdvantage Aviator Red, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.

Remember that the sign-up bonuses and bonus category earnings won’t get you Loyalty Points toward AAdvantage elite status. You’ll only earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on American Airlines cards.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Transfer Bilt points

American AAdvantage partners with just one program with a transferable currency: Bilt Rewards. You can transfer your Bilt points to your AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio, so if you’re currently earning Bilt points by paying rent, this can be a great option for your rewards.

Click through the AAdvantage shopping portal before shopping online

When you click through the AAdvantage shopping portal, you can earn extra miles when making purchases with select online merchants. Using the portal is simple: Sign up for an account and click through the portal to your merchant of choice before shopping online.

Related: Maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

Use SimplyMiles

American offers a program called SimplyMiles that allows you to earn miles when shopping online or in person with select merchants. You’ll first need to sign up for SimplyMiles, link one or more Mastercards to your profile and enroll in offers.

Then, when you use a linked Mastercard to make an eligible purchase at a merchant for which you’ve enrolled in an offer, you’ll earn AAdvantage miles.

Dine at restaurants that participate in AAdvantage Dining

MICHAEL BERMAN/GETTY IMAGES

AAdvantage Dining is similar to the AAdvantage shopping portal but for eating out. Just sign up for an account and link your favorite credit cards for dining. Once you do so, you’ll earn miles when you dine at participating restaurants.

You can earn 5 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent as a VIP member, 3 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent as a Select member and 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent as a basic member.

Book through AAdvantage travel partners

American Airlines partners with major car rental companies so its members can earn miles on car rentals. Check out AAdvantage’s car rental partner page for information on partners and earning rates.

You can also earn AAdvantage miles on hotel stays as follows:

  • American Airlines Hotels: Earn up to 10 times more base miles on hotels.
  • Hyatt: Earn 500 miles each stay.
  • IHG: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on qualifying room rates.
  • Marriott: Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on qualifying charges.
  • Rocketmiles: Earn up to 10,000 miles each night on select hotels.

Additionally, Hyatt and American loyalists can earn more rewards by linking accounts. After linking accounts, AAdvantage elite members can earn 1 AAdvantage mile for every eligible dollar spent on qualifying Hyatt stays and experiences.

In addition to the hotel and rental car partners mentioned above, you can earn miles on vacation packages booked at aavacations.com or cruises booked at bookaacruises.com.

Open a savings account

If you open a savings account with Bask Bank, you can elect to earn AAdvantage miles instead of cash as the interest on your account. You can read our analysis here: Introducing Bask Bank, a new way to earn miles. Unfortunately, miles earned with Bask Bank do not count as Loyalty Points.

Buy AAdvantage miles

Finally, you can buy American Airlines miles. Watch for promotions that allow you to buy American Airlines miles with a bonus or a discount.

Related: Book a pricey suite or flight for a fraction of the cost: Points promotions to save you money

How to redeem AAdvantage miles

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll usually get the best value when you redeem your American AAdvantage miles for flights. TPG’s most recent valuations estimate American miles to be worth 1.5 cents each, so try to get at least this value when redeeming miles.

Redeeming miles for American-operated flights

To find out how many miles an American-operated flight will cost, head to the American Airlines website or mobile app and do an award search.

AAdvantage redemptions for travel on American are now exclusively priced dynamically, allowing the airline to adjust the award rate for any flight.

In 2024, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members will be able to redeem miles to visit the Flagship First dining facility, though the mileage cost is not yet known.

Partner awards

American partners with over a dozen airlines, many world-renowned for their excellent premium-cabin products.

However, these flights aren’t always available to partner airlines, as the operating carrier must release saver-level award inventory.

Related: Guide to earning and burning with American Airlines’ Business Extra program

AAdvantage sweet spots

While American makes it relatively easy to redeem miles across its own network, many awards can offer spectacular value. These “sweet spots” typically get you well over TPG’s valuation of AAdvantage miles.

Here are just a few of these terrific redemptions.

Short-haul flights to the Caribbean

Flights to the Caribbean can cost you hundreds of dollars each way.

Instead, you can book flights from New York to the sunny island of Barbados for just 8,000 AAdvantage miles plus $7.10 in fees and taxes.

AA.COM

Premium-cabin flights to Japan or South Korea

American Airlines divides Asia into three award regions: Asia Region 1, Asia Region 2 and South Pacific. Asia 1 covers Japan and Korea, while Asia 2 includes Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The lower prices on premium flights to Asia 1 apply to Oneworld partners such as Japan Airlines. So, you can book JAL first class from San Francisco to Tokyo for only 80,000 miles.

AA.COM

Related: Best sweet spots in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Etihad business class to the Maldives

You can redeem just 70,000 AAdvantage miles for a flight from the United States to the Maldives via Abu Dhabi in Etihad’s business class, with flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) featuring the carrier’s fantastic new A350 product.

AA.COM

While in theory you can book the same itinerary flying Qatar Airways in its award-winning Qsuite, unfortunately, Qatar is currently only releasing business-class availability from the United States at the last minute to AAdvantage members.

Etihad A350. ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Award pricing

While American eliminated saver and anytime awards in 2023, it isn’t removing award charts entirely.

Instead, American’s refreshed award chart displays initial values for Flight Awards.

Region Main Cabin starting at Premium economy starting at Business/first starting at
Contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada 7,500 miles N/A 15,000 miles
Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America 10,000 miles N/A 20,000 miles
South America, short-haul 15,000 miles N/A 30,000 miles
Hawaii and Alaska 20,000 miles 40,000 miles 60,000 miles
Europe 25,000 miles 50,000 miles 75,000 miles
South America, long haul 30,000 miles 60,000 miles 90,000 miles
Asia, the Middle East and the South Pacific 35,000 miles. 60,000 miles 95,000 miles

Bottom line

The American Airlines AAdvantage program is far from perfect. But if you know how to make it work, there’s still plenty of value, particularly for redemptions on partner airlines, where sensible award charts still exist.

If you’re considering earning miles with the AAdvantage program, we recommend applying for an American Airlines credit card. Doing so can give you a big stash of miles from the sign-up bonus and the ability to continue to earn miles with your daily spending. It’s also worth using the AAdvantage shopping portal and SimplyMiles, especially if you want to earn Loyalty Points and qualify for American Airlines elite status.

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