By racking up American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you can travel for free or for a fraction of the cost. In this guide, we’ll explore the various ways to earn American Airlines miles, how to redeem them for maximum value, and some tips and tricks to get the most out of your miles.
With free flights starting at just 7,500 miles each way, it won’t take long before you can turn your points into a free trip or a business class upgrade.
Note: The suggestions will start with the obvious, but also include lesser-known partner programs. So be sure to check out all the suggestions below so you don’t leave free money on the table.
But First… Why American Airlines AAdvantage?
When it comes to playing the frequent flier points game, it’s generally recommended to choose one airline and stick to it to get the most benefit.
This will give you the best chance to reach a higher status tier and snag perks like complimentary upgrades and free checked bags.
And although there are 16 airlines with scheduled passenger flights from PHL, American Airlines is by far the largest carrier operating out of Philly. They often have the best routes to Europe or around the US, especially if you’re avoiding the budget airlines like Frontier.
Bottom line: Due to PHL being an American Airlines hub and (in our experience) having the best route availability to popular destinations, we recommend their AAdvantage frequent flier program for those who depart from Philadelphia and are looking to start earning points with an airline. But if you regularly fly with a different airline, you should consider signing up for their program too.
Part 1: Earning American Airlines Miles
There are many ways to earn American Airlines miles. The most common way is by flying on American Airlines or one of its partners. But there are other ways to earn miles as well.
Here are some of the top ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles:
Flying on American Airlines
At the risk of sounding obvious, you get frequent flier miles every time you actually fly, as long as you input your AAdvantage number when booking.
But even if you forget, you can retroactively request a mileage credit after your flight once 3 days have passed since your travel date.
This is the O.G. way of acquiring points, but you really have to travel a lot to bank up 10s-of-thousands of miles, which is why should consider the 6 other options listed below to help supplement your flight miles.
American Airlines Credit Cards
One of the easiest ways to earn American Airlines miles is by signing up for an American Airlines credit card. These cards offer generous sign-up bonuses, which can range from 50,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the card.
In addition to the sign-up bonus, you can earn miles for every dollar you spend on the card. Some cards even offer bonus miles for certain purchases, such as gas, dining, or travel. Plus many cards come with perks like free checked bags, which will usually save you $60 per person for domestic flights and sometimes give you priority boarding for free.
It’s important to be responsible with credit cards and not borrow money you can’t afford to pay back immediately. But if you’re about to purchase something expensive anyway, and have the cash to pay the bill that month, consider applying for an airline card to snag the generous free mile bonuses.
AAdvantage Shopping Portal
Another way to earn American Airlines miles is by shopping through American Airlines’ shopping portal.
Simply log in to the portal, search for the retailer you want to shop at, and click through to their website. You’ll earn miles for every dollar you spend at the retailer. This is a great way to earn extra miles for purchases you would make anyway.
If you sign up for the shopping portal email alerts, you’ll be notified when they have special deals. For example, this past valentines day, I spent $200 buying flowers for a few family members through the portal and ended up with 1,300 AAdvantage miles through a promotion they were running.
There’s even a Chrome extension that will automatically tell you when something you’re about to buy is available through the portal, so you can snag the extra points at no additional cost.
American Airlines also offers a dining program, where you can earn miles for dining at participating restaurants. Simply sign up for the program and link your credit card. When you dine at a participating restaurant and pay with your linked credit card, you’ll earn miles for the purchase.
This program usually runs a promotion where if you sign up and eat at one of the affiliated restaurants within 30 days, you get 500-1,000 free miles. I personally signed up and bought some pizzas from Urban Village in Northern Liberties and can confirm I did receive the bonus.
American Airlines has many travel partners, including hotels, car rental companies, cruises and other airlines. When you book with these partners through the American website, you can earn American Airlines miles.
Be sure to provide your American Airlines frequent flyer number when you book to ensure you receive your miles.
Uber/UberEats Partner Programs
For those who use Uber or UberEats, you can link your Uber account to your Marriott Bonvoy rewards account (which is free to set up) and earn points on some Uber rides and food delivery orders. You can then convert your Marriot Bonvoy Rewards to American points at a ratio of 3:1.
This isn’t the top way to earn miles, but if you’re going to order anyway, it’s a nice freebie that you can set and forget that will eventually accumulate over time.
Part 2: Maximizing the Value of Your American Airlines Miles
Now that you’ve earned your American Airlines miles, it’s time to maximize their value. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your miles:
One of the best ways to maximize the value of your American Airlines miles is to book early. American Airlines allows you to book award flights up to 331 days in advance. By booking early, you’ll have access to more award availability and can often find better redemption rates.
If you’re flexible with your travel dates and destinations, you can often find better redemption rates for your American Airlines miles. American Airlines offers a “flexible dates” search option, which allows you to search for award flights within a range of dates. This can help you find lower redemption rates and better availability.
Look for Saver Awards
American Airlines offers two types of award tickets: Saver and AAnytime. Saver awards are the most cost-effective way to redeem your American Airlines miles and you can sometimes snag one-way tickets for as low as 7,500 miles. These awards have limited availability, so be sure to book early.
Consider Upgrade Awards
If you’re not able to find Saver awards for your desired flight, consider using your miles for an upgrade award. Upgrade awards allow you to upgrade from economy to business or first class for a lower number of miles than a full award ticket. This can be a great way to get more value out of your miles.
And don’t forget that you can always use your points for rental cars or hotels too.
More AAdvantage Miles = more free and discounted travel for you and your family.
At the bare minimum, you should sign up for American’s free frequent flier program and enter your account number every single time you book a flight.
Beyond that, you should consider taking advantage of other partner programs and promotions to rack up even more points to get you to award travel levels faster.