How to Save Money Flying on American Airlines

Earning miles through the AAdvantage program or a co-branded card is key, but there are many ways to save.
Natasha Etzel
By Natasha Etzel 

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If you’re planning to fly with American Airlines soon, you may be wondering how to save some money. Airfare costs can take up a significant portion of your travel budget, but with the right strategy, you can lessen the cost of your next flight.

Here are 10 ways to save money flying on American Airlines.

10 ways to fly American cheaper

1. Join the AAdvantage loyalty program to earn rewards

It pays to be loyal to an airline. Whether you fly with American Airlines occasionally or often, you'll want to become an AAdvantage member. This airline loyalty program is free to join and offers member benefits that could improve your flight experience. As an AAdvantage member, you can earn miles and redeem them for nearly-free flights.

Here are some ways you can earn AAdvantage miles:

  • Flying with American Airlines and its airline partners.

  • Booking travel with travel partners.

  • Dining at participating restaurants.

  • Shopping through the American Airlines Advantage eShopping portal.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you fly or spend enough to earn elite status on American Airlines, you will be able to get complimentary Main Cabin Extra or Preferred seats and check a bag at no extra cost.

2. Book basic economy fare tickets for the lowest rate

American has several ticket fare types. For the most affordable fare option, consider booking a basic economy ticket, which are often sold at the lowest price.

Though cheaper, there are some restrictions for this ticket type to keep in mind. For instance, your ticket doesn’t include a checked bag for most routes, it isn't eligible for any changes or cancellation, and you'll be the last to board the plane.

If you can deal with these limitations, buying a basic economy on American Airlines to save money may be a good idea.

Rack up miles or enjoy lounge privileges with our favorite American Airlines cards
Check out our nerdy picks for the best American Airlines credit cards and find the right card for you.

3. Book American Airlines deals

American Airlines publishes travel deals on its website. You can view current low fares for select domestic and international destinations. You can also browse available travel deals and discounts for savings on vacation packages and bonus mile offers.

Bookmark these pages, as the deals offer an easy way to save money on flights.

4. Use an American Airlines credit card to earn miles faster

With an American Airlines credit card, you can earn miles as you spend with the card. Plus, you may get additional perks like free checked bags, early boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.

Here are some options:

Having an American Airlines credit card can speed up the number of miles you earn — especially if you are able to earn a lump sum of points from a welcome offer. With award flights available for as few as 10,000 miles round trip, getting an airline credit card could be a smart move.

5. Book discounted award flights

If you have AAdvantage miles that you need to use, you may be able to save yourself some money by booking an award flight. Unfortunately, in its shift to dynamic award pricing, American has discontinued MileSAAver, AAnytime and Web Special fares, which offered discounted redemptions when available.

While award pricing will vary based on demand, American has published an "award chart" showing what you can roughly expect to pay. However, there are no guarantees:

6. Earn a companion certificate

American Airlines companion tickets allow you to bring a companion at a reduced price of $99 plus taxes and fees. While your companion's ticket won't be free, it could be a lot cheaper than paying the regular ticket price, and it could save you money on the cost of your trip.

Some American Airlines credit cards include this perk after meeting spending requirements. Here's a breakdown of the cards that offer this benefit:

  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn one companion certificate per card anniversary year after spending at least $20,000.

  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Silver Mastercard®: Earn two companion certificates per card anniversary year after spending at least $20,000.

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn one companion certificate per card anniversary year after spending at least $30,000.

  • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®: Earn one companion certificate per card anniversary year after spending at least $30,000.

7. Take advantage of no change fees on eligible fares

Many American bookings qualify for no change fees. All domestic, short-haul international, and select long-haul international main cabin, premium economy and premium cabin tickets qualify for no change fees. Travelers only need to pay the difference in fare if the new ticket is a higher price.

This policy can give you the confidence to book a ticket sooner and cancel and rebook later if the ticket price becomes more affordable.

8. Veterans and their families can save 10% on airfare

You can save money on American Airlines flights if you're a veteran. American Airlines offers a 10% discount for veterans and their families through the VetRewards program, made available through Veterans Advantage.

You'll need to book your flight with Veterans Advantage, but if you're a VetRewards member, this can be a great way to save money.

9. Download the app for free inflight entertainment

Take advantage of this little-known American Airlines Wi-Fi hack: If you download the airline's app ahead of travel, you'll be able to access movies, TV shows and music free of charge for the duration of your flight. This can save you $10 or more per flight.

10. Browse flights on the low fare calendar

Search the AA Fare Finder Map to find deals from your home airport and plan future redemptions. Input your dates, interests and budget, and the tool will recommend popular destinations from your airport of choice.

Note that the prices listed may be for basic economy fares.

The bottom line

Flying on American Airlines doesn't have to be overly expensive. There are ways to save money on your next airfare purchase. If you're planning to purchase a flight ticket with American, consider using the tips above to keep more money in your wallet.

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℠.

See more cards
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