The Pros and Cons of the American Airlines Loyalty Program

American Airlines offers some discounted award flights, but miles can be hard to earn if you take cheap flights.
Natasha Etzel
By Natasha Etzel 
Edited by Bethany Walsh

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The American Airlines loyalty program, also known as AAdvantage, is free to join and offers some notable perks, especially if you regularly fly with the airline. American Airlines offers flights to 350 destinations throughout 50 countries.

We’ll share the pros and cons of the loyalty program to help you decide if its right for you.

The pros of the American Airlines loyalty program

American Airlines has several hubs

Whether or not AAdvantage membership is worth pursuing largely depends on where you're based and where you like to fly. Choosing an airline that has a hub near you or in your city can be beneficial. You can then assume the airline will have flight availability for your travel needs.

American Airlines has several hubs throughout the U.S., including:

  • Charlotte.

  • Chicago-O'Hare.

  • Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Miami.

  • New York-JFK.

  • New York-LaGuardia.

  • Philadelphia.

  • Phoenix.

  • Washington-Reagan.

The large number of hubs increases the likelihood of American Airlines flights being widely available where you're based.

Award redemptions begin at 7,500 miles for domestic tickets

American has instituted some pretty big changes in 2023, including the launch of a fully dynamic award chart. Even so, the airline's published "award chart" still indicates that you can expect to redeem your miles for one-way domestic flights within the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada for as little as 7,500 miles through the American frequent flyer program.

You may also be able to find award redemptions for even less than 7,500 miles, thanks to the dynamic pricing model, but that's less certain.

Multiple ways to earn miles

American Airlines gives you several ways to earn miles. For starters, you can fly and earn, and the number of miles you’ll earn on a flight depends on your status level.

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The AAdvantage loyalty program has four elite status levels, each with numerous benefits. The higher the status you have, the more miles you’ll earn when flying with American Airlines. You’ll earn anywhere from 2 to 11 miles per $1 spent on American Airlines flights.

You can also earn miles by getting and using an AAdvantage rewards credit card. The amount of miles you can earn depends on your spending habits and the card that you choose. Plus, you can earn a welcome offer like the one from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 75,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $3,500 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.

Another way to earn miles is by shopping. You can go to the AAdvantage eShopping mall and shop through select retailers to earn miles on your spending. The AAdvantage eShopping mall currently has 950+ participating stores, and earning rates vary by store. If you’re already shopping online and are part of the American Airlines rewards program, you might as well check the shopping portal to see if your favorite retailers are listed.

Finally, you can also earn miles by booking rental cars, vacation packages, hotels, cruises and when taking partner airline flights.

Members can redeem miles through partner airlines

Another benefit to the American Airlines AAdvantage program is you can redeem your miles for flights on partner airlines, including the Oneworld alliance airlines. Some partner airline flights can be booked online, while others require members to make reservations with an AA booking agent. Having this availability gives you even more options when using your miles to book flights to destinations around the globe.

American Airlines has an extensive list of partners. You can use miles to book flights with the following airlines:

  • British Airways.

  • Cathay Pacific.

  • Finnair.

  • Iberia.

  • Japan Airlines.

  • Malaysia Airlines.

  • Qantas.

  • Qatar Airways.

  • Royal Air Maroc.

  • Royal Jordanian Airlines.

  • S7 Airlines.

  • SriLankan Airlines.

  • Air Tahiti Nui.

  • Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air.

  • Cape Air.

  • China Southern Airlines.

  • Etihad Airlines.

  • Fiji Airways.

  • GOL Airlines.

  • Hawaiin Airlines (with exceptions).

  • Interjet.

  • Seaborne Virgin Islands.

Enjoy added perks when you reach elite status

When you reach elite status through the American frequent flyer program, you’ll get to take advantage of extra perks. This includes free checked bags, complimentary upgrades and priority check-in. The perks available to you depend on your status level, but the perks can pay off if you travel frequently. American recently revamped their Loyalty Point Rewards to include milestone rewards prior to earning elite status and in between elite tiers.

Your elite status carries over to Oneworld partners

When you have elite status with American Airlines, your status will carry over to Oneworld partners. That means you can get some of the same or similar perks when flying with Oneworld airlines. Here’s a look at how this status carries over when flying with Oneworld partners:

American Airlines elite status level

Oneworld elite status level





Platinum Pro.


Executive Platinum.




If you're just getting into the points and miles universe, you can consider optimizing your travels for elite status in an airline alliance a more advanced level of participation. For now, it's simply useful to know what perks could be available to you if you decide to join American's frequent flyer program.

The cons of the American Airlines loyalty program

Miles are earned based on the ticket price, not distance flown

Some airline loyalty programs, like Alaska Airlines, reward flyers based on flight distance. This is not the case for American Airlines. Instead of earning miles based on how many miles you fly, you’ll earn miles based on how much money you spend on your flights, plus your rewards program status level.

If you’re hoping to maximize the number of miles that you earn based on the fact that you fly far distances often, this may not be the airline loyalty program for you.

Miles are worth 1.7 cents each

We value American Airlines miles at 1.7 cents each, which is above average among airline mile values. That said, several airlines offer similar value, which will compete fiercely for your business.

Some airline loyalty programs with similar baseline point values include:

  • JetBlue points are valued at 1.5 cents per point.

  • Southwest Airlines points are valued at 1.5 cents per point.

  • Delta Air Lines miles are valued at 1.2 cents per mile.

However, it may still make sense to join this program if you frequently fly with American Airlines and if you’re living in or near one of the airline’s many hub cities.

You can’t use your miles to book free stopovers

Some airline rewards programs allow you to use your miles to book free stopovers, which can be a great way to maximize the value of your miles and see an additional destination while traveling. Unfortunately, the American Airlines rewards program doesn’t offer this capability.

If you prefer to have this capability, using an airline rewards program like United Airlines MileagePlus might make more sense for you. The program's Excursionist Perk allows for one free stopover to be added when booking award flights.

If you want to have the capability to do this with your miles, the American Airlines loyalty program is not the best choice for you.

Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity

If you’re someone who doesn’t fly often or who doesn’t usually book American Airlines flights, you’ll be at a disadvantage because American Airlines miles do expire. If you’re inactive for 24 months, your miles will be removed from your account.

Other airline rewards program points and miles don’t expire — like Delta, Southwest and United Airlines.

If you want to keep your miles, you'll need to ensure you have qualifying account activity within the last year and a half. Examples include earning or redeeming miles on an American Airlines or partner flight.

Is the AAdvantage loyalty program right for you?

Joining the American Airlines rewards program can be beneficial. It costs nothing to become a member, and if you like to fly with American Airlines or live near a hub, it can make a lot of sense for you to join. You can fly to many destinations, redeem your miles for awards at low rates, earn and redeem your miles with other airline partners, and get access to great perks after you attain elite status.

But if you don’t live near a hub, don’t fly with American Airlines often, want to earn miles based on distance flown rather than dollar amount spent or are nervous about points expiry, then the AAdvantage program may not be the right airline loyalty program for you.

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 2024, including those best for:

Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

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