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When it’s time to cash in your AAdvantage miles for an award flight, you’ll want to understand how to make your rewards go further. Here's everything you need to know to get the most out of all those hard-earned miles.
American Airlines award types
Before we dig into the details of American Airlines' various award charts, one important caveat: The trend in U.S. airlines over the past few years has been to eliminate award charts entirely, so there's no guaranteeing how long the charts you see below will remain valid.
That said, at present, American Airlines offers several categories of award travel depending on how flexible you are and what perks you want with your flight (like free cancellation). Here are details on the types of awards you’ll find in economy:
If you’d like to see the price of awards in other cabin classes to various destinations, check out our calculator below. The low end of the range reflects MileSAAver awards, while the high end reflects AAnytime awards.
Availability for this award type may be limited because these awards are the cheapest. You can book a flight within the contiguous U.S. and Canada for as little as 7,500 miles each way for flights under 500 miles in length. MileSAAver Off Peak awards also offer relatively low-mileage flights if you’re traveling during low season to other regions, including Europe, the Caribbean and even Asia.
Note that there are blackout dates for these budget redemption options, and the cheapest ones can be hard to find. MileSAAver awards are great for anyone with flexible travel plans who is willing to travel on whatever day they can find the cheapest award flights.
Starting at 20,000 miles each way, AAnytime Awards let you redeem miles with no blackout dates. The specific number of miles required for any given flight will vary based on date and destination. But at this level you’re more likely to find an available award seat on the flight you want if you must travel on a certain day or time.
However, since the award price depends on where you’re going and when, many flights within this bracket will require more than 20,000 miles. There are also two pricing levels to AAnytime Awards, with Level 1 being cheaper. This level is also based on your dates and destination; a flight search will show which award level you’ve selected.
Web Special awards
Occasionally, you may be able to find even cheaper award flights with Web Special rates. These awards aren’t as common as the others, but if you spot one, celebrate.
However, take note that these award tickets don’t allow changes, and fees may apply if you want to cancel your flight or reinstate your miles.
» Learn more: American Airlines Web Special awards explained
Reduced mileage awards
Holders of certain American Airlines co-branded credit cards can save up to 7,500 miles on a round-trip or 3,750 miles on a one-way award flight. The miles saved depend on which card you have.
» Learn more: The complete guide to American’s reduced mileage awards
Upgrade awards on American Airlines
You can also use miles to upgrade your seat by one service class using a combination of miles and cash. Upgrade costs range from 5,000 miles plus $75 to 25,000 miles and $550, depending on where you’re flying and what class of ticket you’re upgrading from. Note that upgrading from a full-fare ticket doesn’t cost any cash, only miles. Check the chart below for a full breakdown of upgrade awards on American Airlines and American Eagle.
Things to know about the American Airlines award chart
First and foremost, know that when booking award travel on American Airlines, award prices are shown in one-way segments. There will also be taxes and fees imposed when you book award travel. These start at $5.60 for each one-way flight.
If you prefer to fly business or first class, expect to pay a fair bit extra if the flight you book in the U.S. or Canada happens to be on an aircraft with lie-flat seats. The business/first award price for those trips will be 7,500 more miles for MileSAAver awards, and an extra 20,000 miles for AAnytime awards. We suggest checking what aircraft you’ll fly on before you book.
Oneworld and partner airline awards
Since American Airlines is a member of Oneworld and has independent partnerships with various airlines, AAdvantage miles can be used to fly on American and 22 different airlines, which include:
Air Tahiti Nui.
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air.
Royal Air Maroc.
Royal Jordanian Airlines.
The chart below shows American’s award chart for Oneworld and partner airlines:
The prices of flights in miles are largely in line between the American and the partner award chart. The partner chart also includes flights to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa. Since American does not fly to these regions, it's nice to know that you can still use your AAdvantage miles to get you there.
Upgrade Awards on British Airways and Iberia
You can also use AAdvantage miles to upgrade American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia award tickets according to this chart:
Upgrades are only available on paid flights to the next cabin of service and will require a payment of any additional taxes and carrier surcharges. In the case of British Airways and Iberia, these surcharges can be quite expensive.
Whether you’re redeeming for an award flight or an upgrade, many of these tickets are within reach because American makes it really easy to earn miles. A welcome bonus on a credit card offer can provide a nice boost toward earning miles for that award flight.
Earn points with American Airlines cards
American Airlines offers several credit cards to help you earn miles faster. Here are their annual fees and sign-up bonuses:
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Limited Time Offer: 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.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® (annual fee: $99): Earn 50,000 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 you spend $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
Note that the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® comes with membership to American's Admirals Club lounges.
For business owners, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® offers a suite of additional benefits businesses may find useful, including travel concierge assistance, additional miles for certain business purchases and a companion certificate after you spend $30,000 on the card in a year.
All these cards except the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card also offer a free checked bag on domestic itineraries with American Airlines, making them beneficial to loyal frequent flyers.
» Learn more: Find the best airline credit card for you
The bottom line
Although award charts can change or disappear at any time, American Airlines' chart as it currently stands does have its strengths, especially when it comes to flexible travel that allows you to find a MileSAAver award. More rigid travel plans mean you’ll likely have to cash in more miles, but if you can nab a Web Special, reduced mileage award or a MileSAAver, you can book with confidence knowing your miles will be well-used.
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