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Citi recently increased its offer on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
It’s always a welcome development when a credit card comes out with a higher sign-up bonus, and in this case, there's a lot you can do with the miles you'd earn. Here are some of the best ways to maximize this bonus.
1. Cathay Pacific business class, U.S. to Asia
Given that Cathay Pacific flights are now bookable on AA.com, it’s easier than ever to use your American miles to fly on Cathay. A one-way business class award from the continental U.S. to Asia Region 2 (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) costs 70,000 AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 in taxes.
Cathay Pacific has nonstop service from several U.S. cities to Hong Kong, with flights as long as 15 to 16 hours from places like New York and Los Angeles. That's a lot of time to enjoy Cathay's excellent business class, with fully lie-flat beds, good (and healthy) food, and ample entertainment options.
2. American Airlines economy class off-peak to Europe
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 14, 2019, and Jan. 10 to March 14, 2020, one-way saver-level economy awards from the continental U.S. to Europe only cost 22,500 miles (vs. the usual 30,000 miles). Taxes on award tickets to Europe are only $5.60, but taxes on the way back can range from $75 to $170 (and are higher with a stop in London).
A quick scan of American's award calendar in November shows great availability for off-peak awards from Chicago to Paris. With Veterans Day coming up on Monday, Nov. 11, and Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 28, a long weekend in Europe could be a quick, fun getaway.
Although flights in American Airlines economy aren’t as luxurious as those in business or first class, spending only 22,500 miles for a ticket from the U.S. to Europe is a good deal. Transatlantic flights can be fairly inexpensive during the colder months, but if you’re trying to save money, taking advantage of the off-peak award rates could be a great way to extend your miles. Plus, after spending 45,000 miles on a round-trip transatlantic award, you’d still have miles remaining from the sign-up bonus to use for other awards.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
3. Air Tahiti Nui economy class, U.S. to French Polynesia
Dreaming of those overwater bungalows in Bora Bora? Well, 40,000 AAdvantage miles can get you there on Air Tahiti Nui. As seen below, a flight from Los Angeles to Papeete, French Polynesia, is only 40,000 AA miles plus $5.60 in taxes.
Note that a business class award for the same route costs 80,000 AA miles. So, if you’d prefer to spend that eight-hour flight in business class and walk off the plane as fresh as a daisy, you could earn the sign-up bonus and save your miles until you reach the 80,000 mile threshold. Taxes on a business class award are also $5.60 one-way.
4. Japan Airlines business class to Japan
Want to go to Japan for cherry blossom season in the spring? Flight awards on fellow Oneworld airline Japan Airlines can now be booked on AA.com. A one-way business class ticket from the continental U.S. to Tokyo costs 60,000 AA miles plus $5.60 in taxes.
A glance at the calendar shows ample availability in the spring from New York to Tokyo, but given the popularity of cherry blossom season in Japan, you’d want to book your award sooner rather than later if you plan on visiting then (or during any other event).
Also note that a first class award on Japan Airlines is 80,000 AAdvantage miles. If you’d rather save for that, you’d need to spend more on your CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® after earning the sign-up bonus.
On the other end of the spectrum is Japan Airlines' economy class, which only costs 35,000 AAdvantage miles. If you don’t care about the premium cabin experience, your sign-up bonus will be enough for a round-trip award from the U.S. to Japan.
5. American Airlines economy class off-peak to South America
American Airlines offers off-peak awards for 17,500 AAdvantage miles plus $20.60 in taxes to South America Region 1 (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Manaus, Brazil). Off-peak dates for this region are Jan. 16 through June 14 and Sept. 7 through Nov. 14.
Our scan of availability showed a lot of award space at the off-peak rate to Medellin, Colombia, which has amazing weather during the U.S. winter months. Award space looks somewhat limited to Lima, Peru, at around this time, so if Peru is your destination of choice, you’d want to book this award as far in advance as possible.
6. American Airlines Economy Web Special awards
Starting at 5,000 miles
American Airlines offers Economy Web Special awards, which are extremely discounted awards (as low as 5,000 miles) to certain destinations. For example, American is currently offering award tickets from Houston to Seattle for as low as 5,000 AA miles plus $5.60 in taxes. The number of miles required varies by region and date, and the award tickets include various restrictions.
American Airlines doesn’t publish Economy Web Specials on any sort of landing page, so if there’s a particular route you’re eyeing, do a quick search to see if the destination you’re flying to falls into the discounted rate.
7. American Airlines domestic awards
12,500 miles in economy or 25,000 miles in business
Last but not least are domestic award flights on American Airlines, which cost 12,500 miles for economy and 25,000 miles for business class. Taxes on domestic awards are $5.60.
After you earn your sign-up bonus, you could put some additional spending on the card to earn 75,000 miles — enough for six one-way economy tickets or three one-way business class tickets.
The bottom line
Unlike some other U.S. airlines, American Airlines still publishes an award chart for flights on its own product, as well as on its partners in the Oneworld alliance. That makes finding sweet spots relatively easy.
Miles with American Airlines expire after 18 months of no activity, so even if you don't take advantage of one of these awards, you'll want to make sure there is a qualifying mileage earning or burning activity on your AAdvantage account within that time frame so you don't lose your miles.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Complete guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage program Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies