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American Airlines is one of the largest global airlines and a founding member of Oneworld. On its own, American flies to 350 destinations in 50 countries — and through Oneworld, passengers can fly to over 1,000 destinations worldwide. A feature of the airline’s global reach is that it provides plenty of opportunities for redeeming AAdvantage frequent flyer miles.
However, all the redemption opportunities in the world won't matter if it's difficult to earn the miles. One of the best things about American is how easy it is to earn miles. If you're not a member, you can sign up for American's frequent flyer program, called AAdvantage, here.
In this article, we’ll go over 34 ways that you could earn AAdvantage miles with the airline (even some pretty obscure ones), so you can maximize mileage earning opportunities.
» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage program: the complete guide
1. Earn American Airlines co-branded credit card welcome bonuses
Credit card welcome bonuses offer the best way to jump-start mileage earning. American Airlines is pretty good about offering high sign-up bonuses on its co-branded credit cards, with recent offers ranging from 50,000 to 70,000 miles. American Airlines credit cards are issued by two banks: Citibank and Barclays. All current offers are as follows:
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® (annual fee: $99): Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full within the first 90 days.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® (annual fee: $450): Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage Executive review: Your key to the club
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage MileUp review: No fee, but no free bags
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard® (annual fee: $95): Earn up to 75,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles: Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Earn 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card.
The best option
If you want to get started with American Airlines miles, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® would be the card to go with, thanks to a high welcome bonus.
Although this is a business card, you don't necessarily need a formal registered business to open the card. Even if you have a hobby business in your name (maybe you sell things on eBay or Etsy), you can qualify. In the application field that asks for the name and address of the business, use your first and last name and your home address. In the Tax ID field, add your Social Security number.
Even if the revenue you’ve earned from your business is low, you'll still need to input your total annual income, including employment income. The total income figure will be considered as part of your entire application. The application will also ask for your name and home address, which can be the same as the information for your business. This is completely logical given that if you have a hobby business, you’re likely running it from home anyway.
Nerd tip: Many people don’t consider business cards because they believe they don’t actually have a side business. However, this is a common misconception. Although a business card may not work for everyone, if it does, you could have an opportunity to access great travel rewards.
2. Use credit card bonus categories
American Airline credit cards allow you to not only earn AAdvantage miles each time you swipe your card, but to also earn additional miles for spending in specific categories.
For example, all of the above-mentioned credit cards earn 2 miles per $1 on American Airlines purchases. In addition, these cards earn 2 miles per $1 in the following categories:
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®
Gas stations and restaurants
Telecommunications merchants, car rental and gas stations
Office supply stores, telecom and car rental merchants
When deciding which card to get, take a look at your spending patterns. If you want a credit card with no annual fee that will also earn extra points at grocery stores, consider the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
If you would rather earn the bonus points at office supply stores or on communications expenses, consider either the AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard® or the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, as they offer extra points in those categories.
Many people pay their phone bill using their bank account, which usually earns nothing. However, if you put a $100 monthly phone bill on a card that earns bonus points, you would end up with an extra 2,400 AAdvantage miles per year.
Although it may seem like a relatively small number of miles, they add up quickly. An extra 2,400 miles can be the difference between having enough miles for an award ticket or being slightly short on miles and needing to do something expensive (like topping up your account through a miles purchase).
Get into the habit of strategically thinking about which credit cards you use for purchases.
Nerd tip: Save a note in your phone showing which credit cards earn bonus miles in specific categories, so that you can maximize the number of miles you earn from everyday purchases.
3. Transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy to American Airlines
Although several hotel programs allow you to convert your hotel points into airline miles, the transfer ratio from Marriott Bonvoy is unique.
Marriott Bonvoy points convert to American Airlines miles at a 3:1 ratio. But for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred, you end up with a 5,000-mile bonus. So if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to American Airlines, you will have 25,000 AAdvantage miles.
» Learn more: Here's how much your points and miles are worth
If you have tons of Bonvoy points but few AAdvantage miles, consider doing a transfer. If you’re a few miles short of an AAdvantage award ticket and have some extra Marriott points, a points transfer can help make that reward happen.
Additionally, Marriott is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which has run bonuses in the past on point transfers from AmEx to Marriott. If the stars align and your transfer timeline coincides with a transfer bonus, you could really maximize your point earnings.
Nerd tip: When considering transferring points from Marriott, check to see if there are any transfer bonuses going on to maximize your miles.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy Program: The complete guide
4. Earn American Airline AAdvantage miles by flying
Ahh, the old-school way of earning frequent flyer miles. Despite the fact that earning miles by flying is one of the easiest ways to get them, so many people miss out because they simply forget to add their frequent flyer number to their reservation. To make sure that doesn’t happen, first register for an AAdvantage account.
After registering, you will receive an AAdvantage number, which will be the frequent flyer number you’ll want to add to all your American Airlines reservations. Miles can be earned on flights with American Airlines, Oneworld and partner airlines.
Earning miles on American Airlines
Obviously you can earn American Airlines miles by flying with American Airlines. The number of miles earned depends on the price of your ticket and your elite status level:
AAdvantage® member: 5 miles per $1.
Gold elite: 7 miles per $1.
Platinum elite: 8 miles per $1.
Platinum Pro elite: 9 miles per $1.
Executive Platinum: 11 miles per $1.
To see how quickly the mileage bonus adds up, consider this chart from American Airlines, which shows how many AAdvantage miles can be earned on a round-trip flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to London-Heathrow:
The higher-earning rate is one of the reasons why aiming for status with an airline you often fly with can be advantageous.
Earning miles on Oneworld and partner airlines
American Airlines allows you to earn AAdvantage miles while flying with 22 different airline partners:
Each airline has an agreement with American that governs how miles are earned. The earn rate depends on the distance flown and the fare class of the ticket. For example, here's the earning rate on flights with British Airways:
For example, a flight from New York to London is 3,451 miles long. If you book a first class (F) ticket with British Airways but elect to earn AAdvantage miles, you will earn 5,176 AAdvantage miles. However, if that same ticket is booked in economy (G), it will only earn 863 AAdvantage miles.
Nerd tip: When booking a flight with an American Airlines partner, look to see which fare class your ticket books into and check the earning rate to calculate the number of miles you will earn for the flight.
» Learn more: Your guide to the Oneworld alliance
5. Shop on the eShopping mall
Did you know that you can earn American Airlines by shopping online at your favorite merchants? Shopping through the AAdvantage eShopping mall is one of the easiest ways to earn AAdvantage miles.
All you need to do is sign up for an account using your AAdvantage number and find a participating merchant. The mall offers bonuses for shopping at specified merchants. The screenshot below shows various online merchants along with the earn rate (note that these rates change often, so you may see different offers):
So if you make a $100 purchase at Sephora, you'd earn 500 AAdvantage miles by simply clicking on Sephora through the AAdvantage eShopping mall and completing your purchase. It typically takes a few days for the miles to post to your account, but can take up to 15 days.
Nerd tip: The eShopping mall frequently runs bonuses for making purchases over a set amount (usually about $150), so check the site periodically to see if you can earn more extra miles.
6. Shop through SimplyMiles
SimplyMiles offers extra AAdvantage miles for in-store purchases. To earn miles through SimplyMiles, register for an account with your AAdvantage number and link an American Airlines co-branded credit card and activate your targeted offers.
7. Stay at hotels
American Airlines also allows you to earn AAdvantage miles when staying at participating hotels. There are a bunch of different hotel partners, including some of the largest chains, like Marriott and IHG.
American Airlines Hotels
Up to 10,000 miles each night
Best Western Hotels and Resorts
250 miles per stay
Fiesta Americana Hotels and Resorts
2,000 miles with a minimum 2-night stay
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
500 miles per stay
1-2 miles for every $1 spent on all qualifying room rates
Langham Hospitality Group
500 miles per night and up to 1,500 miles per stay at The Langham Hotels and Resorts and Cordis Hotels and Resorts
250 miles per night and up to 750 miles per stay at affiliate hotels
1-2 miles for every $1 spent on all qualifying charges
Melia Hotels International
Millenium Hotels and Resorts
500 miles at Millennium Hotels
250 miles at Copthorne Hotels
Okura-Nikko Hotels and Resorts
300 miles per stay at Okura Chiba Hotel
500 miles per stay at all other properties
Up to 10,000 miles each night
Up to 10,000 miles each night
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
500 miles per stay
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Platinum and Diamond Wyndham Rewards Members earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on a qualifying stay
Blue and Gold Wyndham Rewards Members earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on a qualifying stay
Generally, you could either earn hotel points or airline miles. Deciding whether to earn hotel points or AAdvantage miles is a matter of personal preference.
Two interesting booking platforms are PointsHound and Rocketmiles, both of which allow you earn airline miles for hotel stays. Below is a screenshot from Rocketmiles of a three-night stay in Miami Beach, Florida, from Feb. 21-Feb. 24, 2020.
If you were to stay at the Nautilus by Arlo, you would earn about 15 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent — a great return. And if you’re looking to maximize your AAdvantage miles for hotel stays, using Rocketmiles or PointsHound would be the way to go.
It is worth noting that the hotel prices on both websites can sometimes be higher than on other online travel agencies (OTAs). This is probably because Rocketmiles or PointsHound are trying to recoup the cost of the miles they need to purchase to reward customers. It’s definitely worth it to compare rates to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
Nerd tip: Before making your hotel reservation, check the eShopping mall to see if there is an opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles on the booking with the hotel or OTA. For example, we found the eShopping mall running a promo that earned 5 miles per $1 spent at PointsHound. This earn rate is in addition to the miles you'd earn on the booking.
8. Book car rentals
Similar to earning AAdvantage miles for hotel stays, you could also earn miles for car rentals. Participating car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Payless, Alamo, National, Dollar, Hertz, Thrifty, Carmel, Europcar, Sixt and GroundLink.
Avis and Budget are preferred rental partners — depending on your AAdvantage elite status, you could earn up to 1,250 miles per rental.
To earn the miles, click "Book now," and you will be taken to the car rental company’s webpage. You will be prompted to input the relevant discount code and your AAdvantage number when making the reservation.
Nerd tip: Check your printed rental agreement to ensure your AAdvantage number is included to earn miles.
9. Take a vacation
American Airlines Vacations is a booking platform that lets you earn AAdvantage miles when paying for airfare, hotels and/or car rentals. There are also opportunities to earn additional miles for booking vacation deals to selected destinations.
When we checked, we found these two promotions, which were both good opportunities to visit warm destinations and pick up some extra AAdvantage miles:
Earn up to 25,000 AAdvantage miles for stays with Palladium Hotel Group, a hotel chain with 50 properties in six countries.
Earn up to 20,000 miles for booking vacations at specified properties in Jamaica.
10. Take a cruise
If a cruise is your type of vacation, American Airlines makes it easy to earn AAdvantage miles through its cruise booking platform. The site is often running various promotions where you can pick up extra AAdvantage miles, like this example:
Nerd tip: American offers a 110% price match guarantee. If you see a lower price on another website after booking your cruise, reach out to American Airlines and it will refund 110% of the price difference.
11. Sign up with American AAdvantage Dining
American Airlines offers a dining program where you can earn AAdvantage miles at participating restaurants. To earn miles, register for an account with AAdvantage Dining and add a credit or debit card to your online profile. Every time you eat at a participating restaurant and swipe your card on file, you’ll automatically earn AAdvantage miles.
If you’re not yet registered for an account, AAdvantage Dining is currently running a promotion through which you could earn 1,000 bonus miles after spending $25 at a participating restaurant within 30 days.
The number of points you earn depends on your membership tier. Points earned range from 1 point per $1 spent (basic member) to 5 points per $1 spent (VIP member).
Nerd tip: If you’re going out to eat, do a quick search on the AAdvantage Dining website to see if any restaurants near you participate in the program.
12. Use miscellaneous business partners of American Airlines
American Airlines allows you to earn miles with a selection of retailers offering business products, financial services, home insurance, electricity, flowers, wine purchases and concert tickets.
Nerd tip: Whenever you’re thinking of signing up for any type of service or purchasing anything online (e.g., energy service, cell phone provider, flowers, etc.) do a search to see if your preferred airline is offering miles with the specific vendor. You never know when you can earn some extra miles.
13. Use American HomeMiles
American HomeMiles is an organization that offers services related to mortgages, real estate and moving. You can earn bonus miles when you buy a home, sell a home or arrange moving services through HomeMiles:
2,000 AAdvantage miles for every $10,000 of the sale or purchase price when you buy or sell a home.
1,250 miles for every $10,000 on a financed house.
5,000 miles when moving state-to-state with Allied, North American or Global Van Lines.
14. Bank with Bask Bank or BankDirect
Bask Bank is a digital bank that awards AA miles for depositing money and maintaining an average monthly balance. The bank is currently running a promotion that provides 5,000 AA miles after depositing $5,000 and maintaining that balance for 90 days.
BankDirect is an internet-based bank that lets customers earn AAdvantage miles based on which products they invest in. You can earn 1,000 AA miles for opening a new account. Setting up direct deposit would earn 10,000 AAdvantage miles, which is a decent mileage bonus. In a recent letter to account holders, BankDirect announced that it will end its partnership with American Airlines on Aug. 31, 2020.
Nerd tip: It is important to note that not all ATM fees are waived with BankDirect, which is a bit disappointing. So before signing up for an account, do your due diligence to make sure you don’t get hit with ATM fees in an effort to earn miles.
15. Take surveys with e-Rewards
This concept is simple: Sign up for an e-Rewards account and fill out a questionnaire to see which surveys you are eligible for. Be aware that this is a tedious way to earn miles. Do you really want to spend 15 minutes of your time to earn 250 miles? If you do, e-Rewards is currently offering a bonus of 250 miles when you sign up for an account and complete a survey within three months.
16. Take surveys with Miles for Opinions
Miles of Opinions is similar to e-Rewards in that it provides an opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles for taking surveys. While they are currently not accepting new members, this is worth checking out if you want to earn extra miles in the future.
17. Take out a loan through LendingClub
LendingClub is a lending institution that offers personal loans, auto refinancing loans, business loans and medical loans. You can earn 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 borrowed.
If you’re considering taking out a loan, shop around to make sure you get the best rate, regardless of the number of miles offered. However, if you find that the rate from LendingClub is competitive, then it’s a great opportunity to pick up some extra AAdvantage miles.
18. Identity protection from LifeLock
LifeLock offers credit monitoring and identity theft protection services. You can earn up to 12,000 AAdvantage miles when signing up for LifeLock’s services.
19. Real estate services with Miles From Home
Miles From Home is a service that will match you with a real estate agent near you to help you sell your home. You can earn 2,000 miles for every $10,000 of your home’s sale and/or purchase price. To be eligible, you need to register with Miles From Home and meet certain criteria. The program is not available for homes purchased or sold in Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma or Oregon. The real estate program isn't available in Iowa.
20. Park at the airport with PreFlight
PreFlight Airport Parking offers an opportunity to earn 1 mile per $1 spent on airport parking. The company operates 14,000 parking spots at seven different airports, including Atlanta, Boston, Houston-Intercontinental, Houston-Hobby, Chicago-O'Hare, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
21. Book an airport shuttle
SuperShuttle provides shuttle service to/from airports. You can earn 50 AAdvantage miles for each one-way ride or 100 miles round-trip. SuperShuttle operates in 71 domestic and 16 international locations.
22. Sign up with Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+)
Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+) offers 24-hour emergency medical and transportation help when you’re at home or traveling. Services include medical evacuation and transportation home, medical assistance and travel assistance for you and your companions. The service starts at $169 per year, and you'll earn 1,200 miles for signing up and renewing annually.
Although this sounds like a good service, you may already have this type of protection if you have a premium travel card with American Express, Chase or another issuer. So it’s best to double-check your credit card’s fine print before paying for an additional service.
23. Use utility providers NRG or Reliant
NRG Home is a supplier of energy and electricity. The company’s services are used with your existing utility provider. You can earn up to 10,000 AA miles, plus 2 miles per $1 spent.
Reliant is an energy provider in Texas. You could earn 15,000 AAdvantage miles for switching to Reliant plus an extra 500 miles for each month you’re registered (for the next 24 months).
Make sure to read the provider’s terms and conditions, because many of these independent energy providers offer electricity at variable rates, which can introduce volatility into your monthly bill.
24. Purchase a home security system through SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe is a provider of home security systems. The company is currently running a limited-time offer in which you could earn 7,000 AAdvantage miles for purchasing a home security system. If you’re considering buying a security system, this could be an opportunity to bank some extra AAdvantage miles.
25. Buy flowers
Buying flowers is a great way to earn lots of American Airlines miles. We found three providers offering bonuses:
26. Purchase wine
You can earn AAdvantage miles for buying wine through Vinesse, an online wine store. Vinesse is currently offering 2,000 AAdvantage miles on your first shipment, plus 5 miles per $1 spent on every shipment thereafter.
27. Sign up with Sprint
If you’re considering a new cell phone provider, Sprint is offering up to 25,000 AAdvantage miles for signing up for a new contract. For each additional year of service, you can earn 5,000 AAdvantage miles. This is a pretty good mileage earning opportunity, especially if Sprint has decent coverage in your area.
28. Buy tickets to Broadway shows
Audience Rewards is the official rewards program of Broadway. Through its partnership with American Airlines, you could earn up to 100 AAdvantage miles per ticket you book, depending on the show.
29. Buy tickets to events through Vivid Seats
Vivid Seats is a ticket broker that lets you earn 3 miles per $1 on concert tickets, sporting events and comedy shows.
30. Donate to charity
American Airlines has partnered with Stand Up to Cancer to offer 10 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you donate to the charity on donations of $25 or more.
31. Convert points from hotels to American Airlines
American Airlines has partnered with several hotel programs that allow you to convert your hotel points into AAdvantage miles. Although a conversion from hotel points into airline miles is usually at a poor ratio and not advisable, this is a case-by-case scenario.
In addition to the hotel partners displayed on AA’s site, the airline has agreements with several other hotel partners:
Fiesta Hotels: Convert 10,000 Fiesta Rewards Points into 3,000 AA miles.
Choice Hotels: 5,000 points for 1,000 AA miles.
Wyndham Hotels: 6,000 Wyndham Rewards Points for 1,200 travel partner points, 16,000 Wyndham Rewards Points for 3,200 travel partner points or 30,000 Wyndham Rewards Points for 6,000 travel partner points.
For example, if you earned 30,000 points with Wyndham from several years ago and you have no plans to stay again at a Wyndham property, then converting those points to airline miles can make sense. Wyndham points convert into AAdvantage miles at a 5:1 ratio, so you'd end up with 6,000 AA miles on that transfer.
32. Unique Hyatt Promotion for AA Gold Elites or higher
Hyatt and American Airlines are running a unique promotion that allows AAdvantage elites with Gold status or higher to earn both AA miles and Hyatt points on hotel stays. The AA miles earned are in addition to any Hyatt points that would be earned for the stay. You can earn 1 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent at Hyatt. To take advantage of the promotion, you must first link your American Airlines and Hyatt accounts.
AAdvantage members who have ConciergeKey, Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro or Platinum status can receive additional perks. This partnership is a great opportunity for AA’s highest spenders to be compensated with extra points.
33. Use Points.com to exchange miles into AA miles
Points.com is a platform that allows you to track, redeem or exchange miles/points from one loyalty program to another. Unfortunately, the transfer ratios are usually weak. However, if you have airline miles that you don't intend to use, transferring them to American Airlines could be a good way to bolster your AAdvantage account.
In addition to airlines, Points.com offers a list of hotel and retail partners. Not all programs allow points exchanges, so check this list to review all partners.
34. Purchase American Airlines AAdvantage miles
Last (and certainly least) is purchasing American Airlines miles. As a general rule, miles purchases make sense only in very limited circumstances: Topping up your account to book an award ticket, purchasing miles for a premium award or buying miles as a transaction to keep your others from expiring. Buying miles at a discount is the main instance in which it can make sense to purchase miles.
Here's an example of a past promotion that could make a miles purchase worthwhile:
If you purchased the maximum of 150,000 miles, you would get a 120,000-mile bonus, for a total of 270,000 miles.
This purchase would set you back $4,794.50, which comes out to 1.8 cents per mile. NerdWallet values American miles at 1 cent each.
In other words, the value doesn't outweigh the cost, and we’ve outlined so many cheaper ways to acquire AAdvantage miles that buying miles ought to be your last resort.
The bottom line
These mileage earning opportunities won't apply to everyone, but try to incorporate the ways that work best for you. Getting into the habit of earning miles for everyday activities can help grow your AAdvantage balance faster and bring you closer to that award ticket that you’ve been planning for.
The information related to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
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