How to Save Money Flying on American Airlines
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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.
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.
» Learn more: Guide to the American Airlines AAdvantage program
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.
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.
» Learn more: Which American Airlines credit card should I get?
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® 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.
» Learn more: The best American Airlines credit cards
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.
» Learn more: Is the American Airlines AirPass worth it?
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.
» Learn more: 3 ways to score military travel discounts
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card