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Accumulating airline rewards takes time and money. To maximize the value of your hard-earned rewards, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with deals offered through your preferred airline loyalty program.
American Airlines, for example, offers MileSAAver off-peak awards that offer great savings to select regions for flexible travelers. Here’s a guide to how this award type works, its limitations and how to book your next trip under off-peak rates.
» Learn more: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles
How American Airlines MileSAAver off-peak awards work
American offers special rewards rates when traveling to select regions around the world within a specific time frame. Domestic flights out of the 48 contiguous states and Canada may be eligible for off-peak awards to seven international regions, plus Hawaii, which is the only domestic off-peak destination available.
The award is toward direct, main cabin flights only, but can save travelers at least 2,500 rewards miles one-way, compared to MileSAAver rates out of the U.S.
MileSAAver off-peak chart
The American AAdvantage program flight award chart is your best friend when it comes to estimating how many miles it might take to book an off-peak flight. The essentials of off-peak awards are shown in the table below, including a comparison of miles needed during peak dates.
To Hawaii: 12/29 - 3/12, 8/11 - 11/18 11/24 - 12/10
From Hawaii: 1/7 - 3/19, 8/18 - 11/27, 12/3 - 12/25
Caribbean, Mexico or Central America
9/7 - 11/14, 4/27 - 5/20
South America Region 1
1/16 - 6/14, 9/7 - 11/14
1/10 - 3/14, 11/1 - 12/14
Asia Region 1 (Japan and Korea)
To Japan: 1/1 - 4/30, 7/1 - 11/30
From Japan: 1/16 - 4/19, 5/2 - 5/31, 9/1 - 12/31
To Korea: 1/1 - 4/30, 7/1 - 11/30
From Korea: 1/16 - 5/31, 9/1 - 12/31
Asia Region 2 (China and Hong Kong)
To China/Hong Kong: 1/1 - 4/30, 7/1 - 9/30, 10/11 - 11/30
From China/Hong Kong: 2/1 - 5/31, 9/1 - 9/19, 10/2 - 12/31
Trans-Atlantic flights to Europe offer AAdvantage members the greatest savings with a one-way rate of 22,500 miles versus 30,0000 miles on Oneworld and partner airlines. That’s 7,500 miles of savings each way to 44 possible European destinations.
» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage Program: The complete guide
Restrictions to keep in mind
In addition to using earned miles to redeem awards, passengers are responsible for paying applicable taxes and carrier fees, which start at $5.60 per person for each award. Fees vary depending on where you’re departing from and your flight’s destination.
The estimated off-peak rates shown are only for nonstop coach flights within the specified dates. In addition to these limitations, keep in mind that MileSAAver flights, including off-peak flights, are limited in availability. Even if your flight itinerary meets schedule dates for your destination, you might not be offered off-peak rates if they’re all claimed.
The bottom line
You’ll need to be very flexible with your travel dates since qualifying dates vary, even when flying to and from the same location. For example, if you’re taking a departing flight to Japan on Jan. 1, your flight is within the off-peak range. But if you prefer to return on Jan. 14, your return flight isn’t considered off-peak.
If you’re itching for your next vacation and are willing to work with the dates that American Airlines sets to get the biggest savings impact, MileSAAver off-peak rates are a budget-friendly opportunity.
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