Your guide to American Airlines AAdvantage

4 min read

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Want to become an American Airlines AAdvantage® member? Learn how to earn and redeem AAdvantage miles — and which credit cards will get you the best rewards.

If you’ve ever flown American Airlines, you’re probably aware of the American Airlines AAdvantage® program — but you might not know how it can benefit you. By signing up with AAdvantage, you have the opportunity to earn miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and more. If you open an AAdvantage credit card, you’ll also get access to perks like free checked bags and priority boarding.

Here’s what you need to know about American Airlines AAdvantage, as well as our top picks for AAdvantage credit cards.

What is American Airlines AAdvantage?

The American Airlines AAdvantage® program is a travel loyalty program. Members earn miles when they fly on American, oneworld® and other participating airlines, as well as over 1,000 partners. Miles can be redeemed for flights to nearly 1,000 destinations worldwide, as well as upgrades, hotels, car rentals, and more.

Which credit cards are best for earning AAdvantage miles?

Two AAdvantage-earning credit cards made our list of the best travel credit cards of 2018:

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is one of the best cards for loyal American Airlines travelers. Cardholders earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases as well as purchases at restaurants and gas stations, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

Cardholders also have the opportunity to earn 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles when they spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Add in extra perks such as your first checked bag free, preferred boarding on American Airlines flights, and 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights when you use your card, and you can see why this card is one of our top picks for American Airlines frequent flyers.

The Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard comes with a $99 annual fee that is waived for the first twelve months.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® comes with a $450 annual fee, but it also comes with a few more perks than the Platinum Select:

  • Admirals Club® membership, plus access for authorized users at no additional charge
  • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation
  • Priority check-in, priority airport screening (where available) and boarding privileges for you and up to eight travel companions on the same reservation
  • Up to $100 statement credit for either the Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee

You’ll earn 2 AAdvantage miles per $1 on all eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases — and you can earn an additional 50,000 bonus miles if you make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, you’ll receive 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year.

Want additional options? Citi and Barclays offer credit cards that earn AAdvantage miles, and both personal and business credit cards are available.

How can you earn additional AAdvantage miles?

Earn additional AAdvantage miles by shopping with one of American Airlines’ featured partners. Visit the AAdvantage eShoppingSM mall to earn AAdvantage miles at 950 stores and enjoy member-exclusive deals — or join the AAdvantage Dining program and earn miles by making purchases at over 10,000 participating restaurants, bars, or clubs.

If you want even more AAdvantage miles, you can always buy them. Buy your miles directly from AAdvantage and earn bonus miles on your purchase, or use Mileage Multiplier to multiply your miles when you fly eligible trips on American and American Eagle®.

How do you redeem AAdvantage miles?

AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for flight awards and upgrades, as well as hotel stays, rental cars, vacation packages, and more. If you’re willing to be flexible, American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be significantly more valuable than other leading airline rewards. If redeeming your miles for flights, AAdvantage miles stretch further if you are able to choose from a range of departure and arrival dates rather than traveling solely during peak times.

Use AAnytime® Awards and Mile SAAver awards to to book flights with miles — both programs come with no blackout dates, but Mile SAAver gives flexible travelers the opportunity to use fewer miles. You can also use miles to upgrade your flight to the next cabin of service; Economy to Premium Economy, Premium Economy to Business, and so on.

You can book car rentals, hotel stays, or vacation packages through AAdvantage and pay with miles — or turn your miles into gift cards, charitable donations, or magazine or newspaper subscriptions. You can even use your miles to purchase Lifelock® identity theft protection.

How do you transfer AAdvantage miles?

You can share AAdvantage miles with friends and family, but it isn’t as simple as dropping your miles into someone else’s account. There’s a small fee for transferring miles from one account to another. If you don’t feel like sharing, you can also gift AAdvantage miles by purchasing them for another account. Another major AAdvantage miles perk is the ability to to earn and redeem points with oneworld® and other airline partners. You can use your rewards to book flights around the world, with the oneworld® alliance serving destinations in 150 countries.

Unlike other travel programs, you cannot transfer AAdvantage miles into other travel reward systems such as hotel loyalty points. However, you can transfer loyalty points earned through AAdvantage’s hotel partners into AAdvantage miles.

How does AAdvantage compare to other travel rewards programs?

Unlike other popular travel rewards programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Capital One® Miles, you don’t need a credit card that earns AAdvantage miles to join the AAdvantage rewards program. You can sign up directly with AAdvantage and earn miles on flights with American, oneworld and other participating airlines, and you can even participate in the AAdvantage Dining program and use the AAdvantage eShopping mall.

The benefit to getting an airline credit card that offers AAdvantage miles is, of course, the opportunity to earn even more miles, whether you’re making purchases with American Airlines or earning your AAdvantage mile bonus. Plus, you get other perks such as free checked bags.

If you spend a lot of time flying American Airlines, it’s worth considering whether to sign up with a credit card that can increase your AAdvantage miles. After all, the more miles you earn, the more money you can save when it’s time to travel again.

For more frequent flyer program research, read up on our latest guides.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.