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American Airlines AAdvantage: The Complete Guide

With the AAdvantage program, American Airlines loyal customers can earn miles and redeem them for flights, upgrades and travel activities
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Lorraine Smithills
Lorraine Smithills

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

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Table Of Content

What Is The American Airlines AAdvantage Program?

The American Airlines AAdvantage program is the loyalty program of American Airlines, that rewards you for flying on American, their partners airlines, as well as engaging in spending with corporate partners.

If you are a frequent flyer, utilizing the AAdvantage program will generate you great benefits that can be used to save you money or enhance your travel experience.

The AAdvantage program is structured in a similar way to other major airline’s loyalty programs. Lets get into how the program actually works.

How Does The AAdvantage Program Work?

The American Airlines AAdvantage Program provides AA loyal customers with the option to earn AAdvantage miles and loyalty points and spend miles and get rewards:

There are two key metrics in the American Airlines AAdvantage program that you need to understand.

The first is miles, which can be earned in numerous ways including flying on American Airlines or partner airlines and spending money at specific partners. Loyalty points are earned in a similar manner, but mainly from flying with American and spending on an American Airlines co-branded credit card.

While miles are exchanged for rewards, loyalty points are used to gauge what elite status tier you are. Each tier comes with its own set of perks that we’ll get into later.

The main purpose of any rewards program is to benefit yourself, and they way to do this with the AAdvantage program is by exchanging the miles for benefits.

Each elite status tier also comes with its own set of perks, and utilizing these perks in a manner that improves your travel experience or saves you money is a key part of the progra.

Understanding how to most effectively spend and use your rewards is a key part of making the most of your participation in the program.

What Rewards Can You Get With AAdvantage Miles?

The possibilities of redeeming AAdvantage miles are nearly endless. From booking flights to upgrading tickets, to booking hotels, there are so many options on how to spend your miles.

One of the primary benefits of the American Airlines AAdvantage program is the flexibility in how you can spend your points.

1.American Airlines Flights (Including Airline Partners)

The most common and well known way of spending your miles is by using them for award travel. These are flights paid for by exchanging AAdvantage miles for the flight credits. Through American Airlines and their OneWorld alliance partnership airlines, there are well over 1,000 destinations you can use your miles to travel to.

Just because you have miles saved up, doesn’t mean you should use them right away. Miles have a monetary value, and you can use an online calculator or CPM (cent-per-mile) calculations to find out the value of the points you have.

Only use the points if your accumulated points could get you a flight that would otherwise be more expensive if you paid with cash. Along with this, you have a lot of options with when to use your miles, because they are not locked into only being used on American Airlines.

The AAdvantage program partners with over a dozen airlines where you can exchange these miles for flights, so carefully search through different flight options, on both American and partners, so find deals where you can get the most bang for your buck.

Fly American Airlines
(Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock)

2. Upgrades

If flying comfortably is an important part of travel for you, upgrading your tickets is a great way to utilize your hard-earned miles. American Airlines allows you to exchange miles to upgrade classes on flights.

The specific number of miles needed to upgrade a class, depends on a variety of factors, mainly duration of trip and fare class of ticket purchased. For example, a full-fare economy class ticket on a flight within the US can be upgraded from the main cabin to business class for 5,000 miles.

Upgrading to a higher tier cabin is not always the most economical way to spend your points, as you likely will get more value from spending them in other ways. However, if the personal value you receive from this outweighs the monetary value, then go ahead and use your miles to upgrade your seats. You can fly in luxury from simply being a frequent flyer with American!

Upgrade to American Airlines first class
Upgrade to American Airlines first class. (Photo by First Class Photography/Shutterstock)

3. Book Cars, Hotels, And Vacation With AA Travel Partners

American Airlines has partnerships with numerous prominent car, hotel, and vacation booking agencies that allow you to directly exchange AAdvantage miles for stays and rentals. This is one of the great features of the loyalty program that enhances your travel experience outside of just flights.

American Airlines uses Rocket and their own AA Vacations website to book entire vacations, hotel rooms, car rentals, or anything in between with your miles. The process is very simple, with booking just like other major trip planning sites, and all payments listed in AAdvantage miles so you can easily know how much everything costs.

Similarly with using miles to book flights, consider the monetary value of your miles before you use them to book a vacation or anything of that nature.

redeem American Airlines miles for hotel nights
redeem American Airlines miles for hotel nights (screenshot from American Airlines app)

How Much Are American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Worth?

One American Airlines AAdvantage mile is worth approximately 1.5 cents. Knowing this is essential for understanding when the best time to use miles is.

  • AAdvantage miles worth is similar and even higher than other airlines – Compared to other major airlines, such as Delta and Southwest, whose miles are worth 1.3 cents and 1.3 cents , respectively, AAdvntage miles are less valuable. With this being the case, you need to be more careful with when to spend your miles.
  • Use CPM (Cent Per Mile) to see when to use miles – Divide the cash price of a flight by the number of points needed to cover it to get the CPM of that flight. Generally, if the CPM of a flight is more than 1 CPM, its worth it to use miles.

How Can You Join the American Airlines AAdvantage Program?

Becoming a member of the American Airlines AAdvantage program is a very simple process. You can sign up in just 3 simple steps!

1. Select “Join AAdvantage” on the American Airlines website – Navigate to aa.com and press on the join AAdvantage button that is right next to the login information.

Join American Airlines Aadvantage program -open application
(Screenshot from aa.com)

2. Enter personal and security information – This is the lengthiest part of the process with you inputting all relevant information.

You will need to tell them personal information such as name, date of birth, address, and contact information. Additionally, you will need security questions to ensure the safety of your account.

You can also put your secure traveler number in if you have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to connect your accounts.

Join American Airlines Aadvantage program - add personal info
(Screenshot from aa.com)

3. Complete Your Application And Set Up Your Profile – after you file the basic details, you'll need to add additional info, add security questions, update a credit card 

welcome to aadvantage
(Screenshot from aa.com)

4. Start earning and spending points – Once you’ve filled out your application you’re essentially done! You can start booking flights and other experiences through American Airlines and racking up those miles.

Aadvantage account
(Screenshot from aa.com)

Limitations, Restrictions And Fees To Consider

The AAdvantage program is fairly light on the number of restrictions and limitations in their terms and conditions. There are a few you should be aware of.

  • Basic Economy Restrictions – As with most other airlines, if you buy basic economy, you will be very restricted in what you are able to do with your ticket. Even as a member of the loyalty program, you likely cannot make changes to your itinerary or even upgrade your seat.
  • OneWorld Alliance Limitations – Even though you are able to redeem your AAdvantage miles in a similar manner on OneWorld Alliance airlines, the number of opportunities to do this may be limited. These companies prioritize their own loyalty programs, so the chances to exchange miles for rewards for them are fewer and farther between.
  • Travel and Card fees – The American Airlines program is one of the best in the industry in terms of fees. Although members still have to pay checked bag fees, they are mostly removed from every other aspect of the travel experience. One of the best ways to optimize your AAdvantage membership is with an American Airlines branded credit card. These cards can range from having annual fees of $0 to $99.

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How Can You Earn AAdvantage Miles?

There are several ways you can earn AAdvantage miles. An easy way to look at the various ways to earn miles is separate it into two buckets: regular activities and credit card spending.

When you fly with American Airlines or one of its partner airlines, you can earn miles based on the distance flown and the fare class of your ticket. The number of miles earned will vary depending on the specific flight and fare class.

Here is an example of how many miles you might earn for a one-way flight on American Airlines:

  • Economy Class: 5 miles per dollar spent on the base fare
  • Premium Economy Class: 7 miles per dollar spent on the base fare
  • Business Class: 8 miles per dollar spent on the base fare
  • First Class: 11 miles per dollar spent on the base fare

So, for example, if you book a one-way economy class ticket from New York to Los Angeles for $300, you would earn 1,500 miles (5 miles x $300).

It's important to note that the number of miles earned may be different for flights on partner airlines, and the number of miles earned can also be affected by promotions and other factors.

American Airlines Book a flight (1)
Search for a flight (screenshot taken by our team from AA app)

There are several credit cards that allow you to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend on the card. These cards are co-branded with American Airlines and are issued by financial institutions like Citi and Barclays.

  • When you use your American Airlines credit card to make purchases, you will earn a certain number of miles for each dollar you spend. The number of miles earned will depend on the specific credit card and the type of purchase.
  • Like other airline cards, some cards offer higher earning rates for purchases made with American Airlines or at certain merchants, while others offer a flat earning rate for all purchases.
  • In addition to earning miles for everyday spending, many American Airlines credit cards also offer sign-up bonuses for new cardholders. These bonuses typically involve earning a large number of miles after meeting a minimum spending requirement within the first few months of card membership.

To start earning miles with an American Airlines credit card, you will need to apply for the card and be approved. You will then need to activate the card and start using it to make purchases. The miles you earn will automatically be credited to your AAdvantage account.

Card
Rewards
Bonus
Annual Fee

1X – 2X 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on grocery stores and eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
10,000 miles 10,000 miles and $50 statement credit if you spend $500 in first 3 months
$0

1X – 2X Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants, 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.
50,000 Miles 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
$99 (waived for the first 12 months)

Citi AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

1X – 10X 10X AAdvantage® miles on eligible rental cars/hotels through aa.com, 4X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1X on all other purchases
70,000 miles 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
$525

Earning airline miles without flying is also possible. You can earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles when you stay at participating hotels or rent a car from participating car rental agencies. The miles earned will vary depending on the hotel or car rental company and the length of your stay or rental period. 

To earn miles with hotel stays, you can book your stay directly with the hotel or through a third-party booking site like Expedia or Hotels.com. You will need to provide your AAdvantage number when you make the reservation to ensure that you receive the miles.

To earn miles with car rentals, you can book your rental directly with the car rental agency or through a third-party booking site like Expedia or Kayak. Again, you will need to provide your AAdvantage number when you make the reservation to ensure that you receive the miles.

It's important to note that not all hotels and car rental agencies participate in the AAdvantage program, so you should check to see if the property or company you are interested in is a participating partner. You can find a list of participating hotels and car rental agencies on the American Airlines website.

You can earn miles when you shop at participating retailers through the AAdvantage eShopping mall or when you dine at participating restaurants through the AAdvantage Dining program.

You can also earn miles for things like taking surveys, subscribing to magazines, or signing up for a rental car loyalty program.

Earn miles with American Airlines credit cards
Earn miles with American Airlines credit cards (Photo by Artem Oleshko/Shutterstock)

Which Credit Card Program Allow Transferring Points To American Airlines

If you use a travel card and get points, you need to know that nearly all major credit card programs allow you to transfer points to American Airlines. The specifics of each program are slightly different and some offer better deals than others. 

  • Amex Membership Rewards: American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio. To transfer points, you will need to log in to your Membership Rewards account and select the “Use Points” option. From there, you can choose to transfer your points to American Airlines AAdvantage.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards: Chase Ultimate Rewards points can also be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio. To transfer points, you will need to log in to your Ultimate Rewards account and select the “Use Points” option. From there, you can choose to transfer your points to American Airlines AAdvantage.
  • Citi ThankYou: Citi ThankYou points can be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage at a 1:1 ratio. To transfer points, you will need to log in to your ThankYou account and select the “Points Transfer” option. From there, you can choose to transfer your points to American Airlines AAdvantage.
  • Capital One Travel: Capital One Venture miles can be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage at a 2:1.5 ratio. To transfer miles, you will need to log in to your Venture account and select the “Redeem Miles” option. From there, you can choose to transfer your miles to American Airlines AAdvantage.
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American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status

American Airlines AAdvantage elite status is a program designed to reward frequent flyers of American Airlines and its partner airlines with a range of benefits. There are four levels of elite status: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum.

To qualify for elite status, you will need to earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles (EQMs), elite qualifying segments (EQSs), or elite qualifying points (EQPs) within a calendar year.

The number of miles or points needed to qualify for each level of elite status varies, but generally, the higher the level of elite status, the more miles or points you will need to earn.

American Airlines AAdvantage Status 2024
Loyalty Points For Eligibility
Gold
40,000
Platinum
75,000
Platinum Pro
125,000
Executive Platinum
200,000

The overall benefits of each elite status tier are largely the same, its just the extent of the benefits increase as you move up to a higher status tier.

For example, AAdvantage Gold members receive one free checked bags while AAdvantage Platinum Pro members receive three checked bags.

  • Priority boarding: Elite members are typically allowed to board their flights before other passengers.
  • Priority security and check-in: Elite members may have access to expedited security lanes and priority check-in lines.
  • Free checked bags: Elite members are often allowed to check additional bags for free.
  • Earn additional miles: Elite members typically earn a bonus on top of the base miles earned for their flights.
  • Lounge access: Elite members may have access to American Airlines' Admirals Clubs and partner airline lounges when traveling.
  • Upgrades: Elite members may be eligible for complimentary upgrades to first class or premium cabins when available.
American Airlines Admirals Club
American Airlines Admirals Club at Lambert Field Airport (Photo by RozenskiP/Shutterstock)

Buying, Give or Transfer American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be bought, given, or transferred in a few different ways:

AAdvantage miles can also be transferred between AAdvantage accounts. To transfer miles, both the sender and the recipient will need to log in to their AAdvantage accounts and navigate to the “Miles Transfer” page.

There is a fee for transferring miles, and the number of miles that can be transferred is subject to certain restrictions. It's important to note that there are terms and conditions associated with buying, giving, and transferring AAdvantage miles, and these options may not be available in all cases.

Transfer miles to another American Airlines account
(Screenshot from aa.com)

American Airlines allows members of its AAdvantage program to buy additional miles if they need more miles to redeem for a specific award.  Miles can be purchased in increments of 1,000, up to a maximum of 150,000 miles per calendar year.

The cost of buying miles varies depending on how many miles you want to purchase and whether you are making a one-time purchase or signing up for a mileage plan.

AAdvantage miles can be given as a gift to another AAdvantage member. To give miles, you will need to log in to your AAdvantage account and navigate to the “Give Miles” page.

You will need to know the recipient's AAdvantage number and have a minimum of 1,000 miles in your account to give.

FAQs

American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth approximately one cent each.

Although the exact value of a mile varies depending on how you use it and what the cash value of the flight you are exchanging the miles for, on average they are one cent.

Yes, American Airlines AAdvantage miles do expire.

According to the AAdvantage program terms and conditions, miles will expire if there is no account activity for a period of 18 months or more. Account activity is defined as earning or redeeming miles, or qualifying for elite status.

American Airlines AAdvantage miles cannot be converted to cash.

Miles can only be redeemed for a variety of award options, such as flights on American Airlines or its partner airlines, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related experiences.

The number of miles you earn for a flight on American Airlines will depend on the distance flown and the fare class of your ticket.

To see how many miles you will earn for a specific flight, you can use the American Airlines award mileage calculator.

You will need to enter your departure and arrival cities, the date of travel, and the fare class of your ticket to see the number of miles you will earn.

There is no cost to join the American Airlines AAdvantage program. Membership is free and open to anyone who wants to join.

Once you are a member, you can start earning miles by flying with American Airlines or any of its partner airlines, using an American Airlines co-branded credit card, staying at participating hotels, or renting a car from participating agencies.

You can then redeem your miles for a variety of award options, such as flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related experiences.

Compare Airline Credit Cards

Picture of Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine Smithills

Lorraine is a freelance finance writer with years of experience in the banking sector and after a successful career in one of the largest retail and commercial financial services providers. She has a passion for helping people with less financial confidence to get control of their money through budgeting, saving, and responsible credit practices.
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Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.
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Rewards Plan:
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Welcome Bonus:
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95,000 points 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership

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60,000 miles 60,000 bonus miles + 500 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Advertiser Disclosure
The product offers that appear on this site are from companies from which this website receives compensation.

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