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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.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Oneworld Alliance
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.
» Learn more: Find the best airline credit card for you
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.
» Learn more: Travel like a minimalist to save big
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:
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 2021, 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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Which American Airlines credit card should you choose? 9 ways to earn travel rewards you’ll actually use Here's how much your points and miles are worth