6 Best Ways to Use American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American's fixed award chart for partner flights is key to getting the most out of your AAdvantage miles.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 

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Although best known for being one of the largest airlines in the world, American Airlines also boasts one of the oldest airline mileage programs ever created.

The AAdvantage program has changed significantly since being launched in 1981. However, it remains one of the most rewarding mileage programs around.

Curious about the best way to use your AA miles? Let's first recap how the American Airlines mileage program works and then highlight some of the best uses of AA miles.

Basics of American Airlines AAdvantage miles

American Airlines stands out from its competition in still publishing some sort of award mileage chart.

For award flights on American Airlines, the airline now only lists a starting price with no upper bound on just how high the award price could go.

However, American Airlines publishes a fixed award chart for award flights on partners. Award rates vary based on the region you're departing from, the region you're flying to, the class of service you're booking and sometimes even the partner you're flying on.

Flight distance doesn't play a factor in award pricing.

Unlike Delta SkyMiles and — to a lesser extent — United MileagePlus, American Airlines awards aren't as closely tied to the cash price of a flight. That means you can still find outsized value on American Airlines flights.

However, due to its predictable pricing, partner award flights are generally the best use of American Airlines miles. Let’s take a look at some of the best uses of your AA miles.

Best American Airlines Sweet Spots

1. Domestic American Airlines awards from 6,000 miles

The American Airlines award chart now shows one-way domestic awards starting at 7,500 miles in economy or 15,000 miles in business class. However, in practice, American Airlines still prices domestic economy awards as cheap as 6,000 miles each way.

And these bargain-basement rates aren't just limited to short flights. For example, you can fly from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, across the country to Burbank, California for just 6,000 miles.

If you booked the same flight using cash, you'd need to pay $295 for a standard economy flight — the most comparable cash fare to award tickets. That means you're getting almost 5 cents per mile from this mileage redemption. That's more than three times NerdWallet's valuation of 1.7 cents per AAdvantage mile.

2. American Airlines awards to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America

American Airlines awards to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America now start at just 10,000 AAdvantage miles each way in economy or 20,000 miles in business class. That's an excellent price for flights that can cost hundreds of dollars.

These award rates aren't available during peak travel times. However, travelers with a flexible travel schedule may find pretty widespread pricing at this rate.

3. Off-peak and low-season awards to Europe

American Airlines no longer publishes an off-peak award chart for its own flights. However, you can still book off-peak awards to Europe on partners for 22,500 miles each way.

Even better, you can currently book awards on American Airlines between the U.S. and Europe for 42,000 miles round-trip. Note that you'll need to book a round-trip to get this rate. American Airlines charges 25,000 miles each way if you book two one-way flights.

4. Award flights to Morocco — or beyond into Europe

If you used American Airlines' award chart as a reference, you might fail a geography test. That's because American Airlines treats Morocco as a part of Europe. That's a good thing for travelers as it means you can fly to Morocco for as few as 22,500 miles in economy or 57,500 miles in business class.

Comparatively, awards to Africa cost 40,000 miles in economy or 75,000 miles in business class. Unfortunately, that's the price you'll get stuck paying if you connect onward from Casablanca into other parts of Africa — even on a short onward flight to Tunis, Tunisia.

Treating Morocco as part of Europe means that you can also connect through Casablanca on the way to "other" European destinations for no additional mileage cost. This gives American Airlines travelers another way to fly across the Atlantic without paying high taxes and fees on British Airways.

5. Qatar Qsuite to the Maldives or other parts of the Indian Subcontinent

Qatar Qsuite is widely regarded as one of the best business class products in the world. And one of the least-expensive ways to experience it for yourself is by booking with American Airlines miles.

Nonstop flights from the U.S. to Doha, Qatar cost 40,000 miles in economy or 70,000 miles in Qatar Qsuite business class. Even better, you can connect onward to destinations throughout the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent for no additional miles.

You can stretch this award price to its limits by flying to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka or even the Maldives.

6. Flying Japan Airlines to Japan or Korea

Lastly, we would be remiss not to discuss American Airlines' partnership with Japan Airlines. AAdvantage members can book travel on Japan Airlines between the U.S. and Japan at the following rates:

  • 35,000 miles each way in economy.

  • 50,000 miles each way in premium economy.

  • 60,000 miles each way in business class.

  • 80,000 miles each way in first class.

Japan Airlines provides a top-notch experience in all cabins, making any of these four options potentially a good deal. Business and first class especially stand out as amazing opportunities for using AA miles.

With that said, premium cabin award availability can be especially hard to find between the U.S. and Japan. On dates where there is any award availability, you'll often find just one seat available.

Earning AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines offers dozens of ways to earn AAdvantage miles. At last count, we found 32 ways — including:

  • Flying on American Airlines or its partners.

  • Booking hotels through AAdvantage partners.

  • Spending on an AAdvantage credit card.

  • Shopping through the eShopping portal.

  • Earning through saving with Bask Bank, and so many more.

One of the biggest limitations of the American Airlines AAdvantage program is its lack of transfer partners.

Of the five major transfer point programs, American Airlines only partners with Marriott Bonvoy. You'll get one AAdvantage mile for every three Marriott Bonvoy points transferred.

If you're looking for the best use of AA miles

American Airlines offers a diverse range of ways to use AAdvantage miles for good value — from 6,000-mile domestic awards to flying some of the best business- and first-class products in the world for a reasonable mileage rate.

The best use of AA miles just depends on where you want to go.

(Top photo courtesy of American Airlines)

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