6 Things the American Airlines AAdvantage Program Gets Right

6 Things the American AAdvantage Program Gets Right

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Airline rewards programs can be as overwhelming to review as a major carrier’s route map.

But the American Airlines AAdvantage program offers travelers several ways to earn rewards, and it partners with airlines to get flyers to 350 cities across 50 countries.

Here are six things the AAdvantage program gets right:

1. International partners get you around the world

As part of the Oneworld Alliance, American Airlines has a broad roster of international partners, which gives passengers a chance to earn and redeem miles on hundreds of routes around the world. AAdvantage members earn miles on more than a dozen airlines including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines and Finnair.

2. Loads of ways to earn miles

AAdvantage members can earn miles when paying utility bills; shopping via the AAdvantage eShopping mall at retailers such as Walmart, Target, Sephora, Macy’s and Kohl’s; and using a registered card at one of 11,000 participating restaurants, bars and clubs.

Travelers can also sign up for one of the American Airlines-branded credit cards and get a welcome bonus that can be redeemed for travel within months of becoming a cardholder.

3. Fewer fees and more flexibility with elite status

Elite status can allow you spontaneity without the extra fees. Elite status benefits include seat upgrades when available, mileage bonuses and at least one checked bag for free. What's more, as of Oct. 13, 2021, American elite status members receive reciprocal benefits when flying with JetBlue via the Northeast Alliance partnership.

4. Potential for upgrades, even if you book basic economy

Even if you opt to book the cheap seats (and by that, we mean basic economy), you could find yourself with an upgrade. Beginning in the fall of 2020, elite members who purchase a basic economy fare now have access to:

  • Upgrade privileges.

  • Elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats.

  • Same-day confirmed flight changes.

5. No change fees (and more options) on award tickets

American Airlines has eliminated change fees on most main cabin fares and all premium cabin fares for domestic and short-haul international flights, both for award tickets and tickets paid for in cash.

And as of Oct. 1, 2020, all customers — regardless of their status — will have the ability to travel standby on flights the same day as their original departure (for the same destination) at no charge. But there’s a benefit to having higher status. The waitlist isn’t purely first come, first served. A number of factors, including elite status, go into determining how the airline ranks your request against other travelers’.

6. Use your credit card and keep your miles

In general, AAdvantage miles will expire if you go 18 months without earning or redeeming miles on American or one of its partner airlines. But miles earned on an American Airlines-branded credit card will remain valid as long as you continue to use the card.

AAdvantage members can also pay to reactivate expired miles.

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 2022, including those best for:

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