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Earning enough points and miles to use for a free flight or hotel stay can be slow going, and it might seem like you’re never going to have enough.
If your only strategy for earning miles is by flying, accumulating enough for an award redemption can take forever — literally forever, if you fly so infrequently that your miles expire between trips. It’s a good idea to seize every opportunity to earn extra miles.
That’s part of the reason that travel rewards credit cards are so popular. These cards pay you points or miles for every purchase, making it much easier to earn enough points and miles to redeem for an airline ticket or hotel stay. But smart travelers know it doesn’t stop there. More opportunities to earn miles exist if you’re willing to put in some extra effort.
» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage Program: The complete guide
For these reasons and more, anyone who holds an American Airlines-branded credit card from Citi or Barclays should take a peek at American’s Simply Miles program, which offers a way to earn extra American Airlines AAdvantage miles with a little added effort.
How it works
Simply Miles is like a cross between travel rewards dining programs that pay you miles for eating at participating restaurants and “bonus offers” programs offered by American Express and Chase that let you “add” offers, like discounts at select retailers credits, to your credit card.
Specifically, Simply Miles works like this:
Sign up (it’s free).
Then register a qualifying credit card like the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays or the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® or any American Airlines AAdvantage-branded card. You can register up to three cards at a time, and you can remove cards and add new ones at any time.
Once you’ve registered a card, you’ll be able to browse personalized offers to earn extra miles. For example, add the current ExxonMobil offer to your card and you’ll earn one bonus mile per dollar when you spend at least $20 at an Exxon gas station. That’s on top of the miles you normally earn with your credit card.
Miles can add up fast
Big purchases can be especially lucrative in this program. For example, if you already have plans to book a vacation package worth $3,000 or more through American Airlines Vacations, see if the vacation provider is among your personalized SimplyMiles offers. You might earn 3 American AAdvantage miles per dollar on your purchase just by adding a current AA Vacations offer to your co-branded American Airlines credit card.
And if the stars align just right, you could end up earning miles three ways on this same trip. In addition to those 3 miles per dollar paid by SimplyMiles, you also earn miles just by using your co-branded card. And the vacation itself could pay tens of thousands of bonus miles.
For smaller purchases, you won’t find a huge selection of participating retailers. But they’re worth skimming: Nautica, Dyson, 7 for All Mankind apparel stores and gourmet gift company Harry & David are a few of the names you might see in your personalized offers. The mileage payouts vary for each.
All the offers have expiration dates, and that’s where some extra effort may be required. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it program like airline dining programs. You have to log in periodically to see which of your selected offers are still active on your card, which have expired and what new offers are available. When you see a retailer where you might shop, even if the odds are low, just add it to your card. You’ll earn miles if you make a purchase, and you’ll lose nothing if you don’t.
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 2020, 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: American Airlines AAdvantage Program: The complete guide NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards