How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

7 April 2023

Editors note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Citi is a TPG advertising partner.

 

As some of the most valuable U.S. airline rewards, there are many ways to redeem American Airlines miles. The airline has a plethora of Oneworld and non-alliance partners, so you can redeem AAdvantage miles for travel to many destinations on various airlines.

And now, American has sweetened the deal on its Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, so for a limited time, you can earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $3,500 within the first four months of account opening.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the many methods you can earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

But first, two notes. Make sure to create a free AAdvantage account on the American Airlines website, as you’ll need one before you can earn AAdvantage miles. And note that only some American Airlines miles are Loyalty Point-eligible — so check our guide about how to earn Loyalty Points if you’re also interested in earning American Airlines elite status.

Earn American miles by flying

Earning AAdvantage miles by flying may seem like it needs no explanation, but how you earn miles for flying has changed over the years. Here’s how to earn AAdvantage miles flying on American and its partners.

Flying on American Airlines

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

When flying on American Airlines, you’ll typically earn miles according to the base price of your ticket minus taxes and fees. The miles you earn also vary based on your AAdvantage elite status. As you’d expect, the higher your status, the more miles you’ll earn.

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

No status: 5 miles.
Gold: 7 miles.
Platinum: 8 miles.
Platinum Pro: 9 miles.
Executive Platinum: 11 miles.

So if you buy a one-way American Airlines ticket from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that costs $120 and includes $20 in taxes (note that we’ve rounded these amounts), you’d typically earn 500 miles ($100 at 5 miles per dollar) as an AAdvantage member without elite status. Meanwhile, an Executive Platinum member typically earns 1,100 miles on the same ticket.

However, beware of American Airlines’ special fares, as these fares earn based on the fare class and distance flown instead of the actual fare paid. American Airlines’ website says you may earn based on special fares if you book through a “specialized agent, third party or as part of a package including air transportation and lodging.”

Flying with partners

When you fly with an American Airlines partner, you can earn American miles in two ways. If the partner flight was booked through American and ticketed on American Airlines ticket stock, you’d earn miles the same as if you were flying on an American Airlines flight. This is generally the case if you book a ticket operated by a partner airline on the American Airlines website.

How you earn American miles changes when you book a ticket on a partner’s website and add your AAdvantage number to the reservation. In this case, you’ll earn miles based on your flight distance. However, the exact earning rate depends on the fare class of your ticket. Here’s an example of the earning chart for British Airways-operated flights:

AA.COM

You can see your fare class by looking at your e-ticket or by calling the airline and asking.

Once you’ve located the fare class, go to American’s list of partner airlines, click on the operating carrier of your flight and find the corresponding fare class on that list. Then, multiply the mileage flown (use Great Circle Mapper to quickly calculate the distance between two airports) by the percentage in the fare class column.

If you’re flying in a premium fare class, you’ll also earn the bonus listed in the “Cabin bonus” column. And AAdvantage elite members earn bonus miles in addition to base miles at the following rates when flying on eligible partner airlines:

Gold: 40%.
Platinum: 60%.
Platinum Pro: 80%.
Executive Platinum: 120%.

For example, let’s say you’re a general AAdvantage member flying British Airways business class in the C fare class from Los Angeles to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). According to the above chart, you’ll earn 100% base miles plus a 150% cabin bonus. Since the flight clocks in at 5,456 miles, this comes out to 13,640 AAdvantage miles earned each way. But, an Executive Platinum member flying on this same ticket would earn 6,547 more miles each way due to the 120% elite bonus.

Related: Quick Points: Earn American AAdvantage status quickly with partner flights

Earn American miles through credit cards

WITTHAYA PRASONGSIN/MOMENT/GETTY IMAGES

Beyond flying, one of the easiest ways to earn American AAdvantage miles is through sign-up bonuses and spending on American Airlines cards. Citi and Barclays currently issue AAdvantage credit cards that let you earn American Airlines miles when using your card for purchases.

Citi’s American AAdvantage portfolio is the most attractive of the two issuers if you want to earn miles on everyday credit card spending. Here are the sign-up bonuses and earning rates on some of the currently-available Citi AAdvantage cards:

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases. This card has a $450 annual fee.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,500 on purchases in the first four months of account opening. Plus, earn 2 miles per dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. This card has a $99 annual fee that’s waived for the first 12 months.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening. Plus, earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations. Earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. This card has a $99 annual fee that’s waived for the first 12 months.
American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn 2 miles per dollar spent at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases. This card has no annual fee.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

On the other hand, Barclays offers several American AAdvantage cards. Here are two Barclays AAdvantage cards that are currently open to new applicants:

AAdvantage® Aviator ®Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.
AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days, and earn 10,000 bonus miles after a purchase is made on an employee card. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at eligible office supply, telecommunications and car rental merchants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. This card has a $95 annual fee.

The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red 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 issuer.

If you want American Airlines status, note that miles earned from sign-up bonuses and category bonuses on spending aren’t Loyalty Point eligible. As such, you’ll earn just 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on the AAdvantage mentioned above credit cards.

Related: What you need to know about earning another American Airlines card sign-up bonus

Earn American miles through partners

You can earn AAdvantage miles when you shop online. SRDJANNS74/GETTY IMAGES

You can also earn American miles (and even Loyalty Point-eligible miles, in some cases) through AAdvantage partners. You may earn miles through partners for activities you already do, like shopping, dining and banking.

AAdvantage eShopping mall

The American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal awards miles on your online purchases.

Using the portal is simple: Sign up for an account and click through to your merchant of choice on AAdvantage eShopping before making a purchase. By clicking through the AAdvantage eShopping portal rather than going directly to the merchant’s website, you’ll earn AAdvantage miles on top of the rewards you’d already be earning when you use a rewards credit card to make your purchase.

Related: Maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

AAdvantage Dining

Dining out can be doubly rewarding at select restaurants through the AAdvantage Dining program. RAWPIXEL/UNSPLASH

Think of American Airlines AAdvantage Dining as a shopping portal for eating out. Just sign up for an account, link your favorite credit cards and earn miles when you swipe one at participating restaurants.

You can earn:

5 AAdvantage miles per dollar if you’re a VIP member (become a VIP member through the end of the next calendar year after you make 11 transactions in a calendar year and elect to receive emails from AAdvantage Dining).
3 AAdvantage miles per dollar if you’re a select member (become a select member by opting to receive emails from AAdvantage Dining).
1 AAdvantage mile per dollar if you’re a basic member.

Like a shopping portal, the miles you earn through AAdvantage Dining are in addition to the standard rates on the credit card you use, so be sure to pay with one of the best cards for dining.

Related: 11 of the most generous airline and hotel dining rewards programs

Transfer points from hotel programs

You can transfer hotel points from various programs directly into your AAdvantage account. While most offer a relatively poor value proposition, one exception is Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott points transfer to American AAdvantage at a ratio of 3 Marriott points to 1 AAdvantage mile. Unlike most Marriott airline transfer programs, you won’t earn an extra 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.

Related: Here’s what you should know before transferring Marriott points to airline miles

Transfer points from Bilt Rewards

Bilt Rewards is a loyalty program for renters. You can use the Bilt Mastercard® (see rates and fees) to earn points when you pay rent and make other purchases. Then, you can transfer Bilt points to various transfer partners, including AAdvantage, at a 1:1 transfer ratio.

Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor. 

Hotel stays

Holiday Inn Johannesburg Airport in South Africa. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

There are several ways to earn AAdvantage miles on your hotel bookings.

The first is booking hotels directly through Hyatt, Marriott and IHG. Each hotel loyalty program lets you earn AAdvantage miles instead of standard hotel points if you set your earning preference to AAdvantage miles in your member profile. Specifically, you can earn American Airlines miles at the following rates:

World of Hyatt: 500 miles per stay.
Marriott Bonvoy: 1 to 2 miles per dollar spent.
IHG One Rewards: 1 to 2 miles per dollar spent.

Make sure to compare the number of hotel points you’d earn with the number of AAdvantage miles you’d earn before opting to earn AAdvantage miles. You’ll usually come out ahead when you earn hotel points instead of airline miles on your hotel stays.

In addition, there’s a separate way to keep your Hyatt earning preference as points and still earn miles on your stays, thanks. If you have elite status American (and link your accounts here), you’ll earn 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent on Hyatt stays.

In this example from TPG director of content Nick Ewen, he paid a base rate of $152 for a one-night stay, and in addition to earning World of Hyatt points, he took home 152 American miles, and those also counted as Loyalty Points.

AA.COM

Note that World of Hyatt elites can also earn bonus Hyatt points on American-operated flights (1 points per dollar on the base fare), so if you have status with both programs, it’s a great way to double-dip. Just make sure your accounts are linked.

Outside of the major hotel loyalty programs, you can also earn AAdvantage miles on hotel stays by booking hotels through Rocketmiles. You can earn up to 10,000 miles per night, with promoted and more expensive hotels often earning the most miles. However, Rocketmiles sometimes prices hotels higher than if you booked directly. So cross-check prices before booking a stay.

Finally, booking through American Airlines Hotels can earn AAdvantage miles on hotel stays. Booking.com powers this platform, so you’ll find various hotel options. As with Rocketmiles, American says you can earn up to 10,000 miles per night when booking through American Airlines Hotels. However, only some hotels offer AAdvantage miles through this platform, and many offer fewer than 10,000 miles per night. So you’ll need to be flexible to maximize this booking method.

Related: We tested earning American Airlines miles for 3 different hotel stays — here’s what we found

Book vacation packages with American Airlines Vacations

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You can earn miles on vacation packages by booking through American Airlines Vacations. With American Airlines Vacations, you can book flights, hotels and car rentals as a package and take advantage of discounted rates. You’ll also earn at least 1,000 AAdvantage miles on all packages booked through American Airlines Vacations.

You can earn more miles by booking hotel stays at a hotel with a bonus. These hotels are listed on American Airlines Vacations’ promotions page and are updated regularly. The best offers I see now offer up to 25,000 AAdvantage miles per stay, but sometimes you’ll see offers for up to 30,000 AAdvantage miles per stay.

You may want to check the promotions page on the American Airlines Vacations site before you book your next vacation. But remember that you likely won’t earn hotel points or get hotel elite status benefits when you book hotels through American Airlines Vacations, as you usually need to book directly with the hotel to take advantage of these benefits.

Related: Want to earn Loyalty Points? Here’s why booking through American Airlines Vacations isn’t always best

Book your cruise with American Airlines Cruises

You can earn American Airlines miles when booking a cruise with American Airlines. As a general AAdvantage member, you can earn 1 mile per dollar (up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles per booking) for cruises through Dec. 31, 2025. Best of all, this earning is Loyalty Point-eligible.

AAdvantage cardholders can earn an additional 1 mile per dollar (up to 10,000 additional AAdvantage miles per booking) for cruises through Dec. 31, 2024, but these extra miles aren’t Loyalty Point eligible.

Watch for promotions through American Airlines Cruises that provide extra perks like onboard credits and cabin upgrades on your sailing.

Other ways to earn miles with AAdvantage partners

This section covered just a sampling of American Airlines’ many partners. You can see the full list on American’s website, but here’s a quick glimpse at some of the other ways to earn American miles with AAdvantage partners:

Rental cars: American partners with a wide variety of car rental partners.
Charity: You can earn AAdvantage miles by donating to Stand Up To Cancer. When donating over $25, you’ll earn 10 miles per dollar donated to the charity, which raises funds for cancer research and awareness programs.
Bask Bank: Bask Bank and American Airlines have a partnership that lets AAdvantage members earn interest in miles.
SimplyMiles: American offers a program called SimplyMiles that allows you to earn miles on everyday purchases with select merchants. To participate, you must be a U.S.-based member, enroll in the offer you want to use before making an eligible purchase and use a Mastercard you’ve enrolled in the program when making your eligible purchase.
Gas: When filling up at a Shell location, you can earn 2 miles per gallon of fuel through the Fuel Rewards program. Sign up here and use one of the best cards for gas purchases on your next fill-up.

Bottom line

Despite AAdvantage not partnering with many transferable points programs, you can easily earn miles by flying, spending on cobranded credit cards, opening a savings account and shopping with numerous retail partners.

If you choose the credit card route, we recommend signing up for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. This card has an elevated welcome bonus and offers bonus categories for purchases with American Airlines, gas stations and restaurants. And if you’re looking for ideas on redeeming American Airlines miles, check out our post on the best sweet spots in the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

Additional reporting by Ehsan Haque and Kyle Olsen.

For rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.
For rewards and benefits of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.

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