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The end of 2012 is fast approaching, and though I’m in a great position with my elite status qualification – Executive Platinum on American and Platinum on both United and Delta – I have burned through quite a few of my American AAdvantage miles lately, so I have been putting together a strategy to get my balance back up so I can put more of those miles to use flying Oneworld partners like British Airways and Cathay – and who knows, maybe even a trip on Qantas next year if I get down to Australia. So here are the top 10 ways to earn redeemable American Airlines miles. Fast.
1. Credit Card Bonuses: Although this offer was supposed to end on December 13, three American Airlines co-branded credit cards are each offering confirmed bonuses of up to 50,000 miles. The Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage Visa Signature Card awards new cardholders 40,000 miles after they make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership plus an additional 10,000 miles after they make $10,000 in purchases within the first 12 months of cardmembership. Both the Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage World Mastercard are offering the same terms. If you don’t have any of these cards, you can try going for two at once using the two-browser trick to score a total of 100,000 bonus miles. Just be sure to screenshot the offer landing page in case you are not given the full 50,000-mile bonus so that you have proof that’s what you applied for.
3. Use the AAdvantage Shopping Portal: Althoug the prime holiday shopping season has just ended, for those of you who are present procrastinators, or just searching for post-Christmas deals, there are still plenty of mileage bonuses through shopping portals which I outlined in an earlier Top 10 Holiday Shopping Bonuses where you can earn multiple miles per dollar that you spend. When it comes to AAdvantage Shopping all you have to do is create an account and register a credit or debit card to earn AAdvantage miles. Then, click on an online offer from whatever merchant or retailer you’re interested in to earn AAdvantage miles while you shop – sometimes up to 30 miles per dollar! Some of the offers going on right now include 3 miles per $1 at Macy’s, 3 miles per $1 at Neiman Marcus, 20 miles per $1 at Magazines.com, and 10 miles per $1 at Restaurant.com just to name a few. Since you still buy your goods through the store’s site, you can use any other coupons at check out as well.
4. Sign up for AAdvantage Dining: I’m a big fan of dining for miles deals, since it requires little effort and there is usually a wide range of restaurants to choose from in your area. American’s dining program is called AAdvantage Dining. All you have to do is log in with your AAdvantage number and register a debit or credit card, then when you use that card at a participating restaurant, you can earn up to 5 miles per dollar for every dollar you spend dining. Right now you can earn 1,000 AAdvantage bonus miles by spending $30 using your registered card on a single dine at a participating restaurant, bar or club within 30 days of signing up.
5. 50% Buy Miles Bonus Promotion: Generally buying miles isn’t a great value, especially because they don’t earn you elite status, but right now, American is holding a sale with a potential 50% bonus on purchased miles, making it something to consider if you’re just a little bit short of an award redemption. The sale runs until December 31, 2012, and American Airlines has also raised the annual limit of miles you can purchase per account from 40,000 to 60,000, meaning you could end up with a total of 90,000 miles through this promotion for a total cost of $1,685 at a CPM of 1.87 cents. That still ends up being a healthy chunk of change to spend, but it’s something to consider if you need miles in a hurry.
6. Promotions From Car Rental Partners Like Avis and Alamo: Every so often, American’s car rental and hotel partners run promos that award AAdvantage members bonus miles. For instance, now through December 31, 2012, American and Avis have teamed up to offer customers 250 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles per day on their next Avis rental up to 1,000 miles per rental. This offer is available at participating Avis airport locations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. To get the extra miles, just rent with Avis for 1 or more days at participating locations and use coupon number MUAA013. Plus, Avis also offers a 35% discount to American Airlines flyers when they book using AWD #K817179. Bonus points can take 6 to 8 weeks to appear. Alamo is also offering a promo from now through December 31, 2012, where you can save up to 30% on car rentals and earn 1,000 bonus American miles with a 3-day minimum rental on any size vehicle at participating Alamo locations in the United States and Canada. Use ID number 7015732 for the discount and be sure to provide your American Airlines AAdvantage number at the time of rental. Book here.
7. Earn Miles by Donating to the Red Cross: Now is also the time of year that most people’s thoughts turn to charitable donations – especially after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. In addition to doing good by donating, you can also earn bonus American miles for making a cash donation to the Red Cross through this AAdvantage bonus mile offer. Through December 31, 2012, AAdvantage members can earn a one-time award of 250 AAdvantage bonus miles for a minimum $50 donation, or 500 AAdvantage bonus miles for a donation of $100 or more to the American Red Cross. AAdvantage miles will post to the member’s AAdvantage account approximately 21 days after the donation is made.
8. Buying Discount First and Business Class Fares: It’s a bit counterintuitive – purchase more expensive tickets to earn miles so you can eventually save money – but on many routes these days domestic first or business class seats aren’t that much more expensive than coach, and in some cases, it can actually cost less to purchase a first class seat than a business class or refundable coach ticket because of corporate requirements for business travel (some companies prohibit executives from first class travel and make them buy business class fares instead, driving up the prices of those tickets). What makes buying a more expensive fare worth it is that American offers a 50% class-of-service bonus on A, F and P first class fares, and a 25% bonus on D, I, J and R business class fares. So if business or first isn’t that much more money than coach (or if you just feel like treating yourself), consider buying the higher fare to score the bonus miles.
9. Transfer Miles from Starwood Preferred Guest: Although I personally value Starwood Preferred Guest points higher than American Airlines miles – especially with high-value redemptions like cash & points awards, if you need some AAdvantage miles in a hurry and are sitting on a surplus of SPG points, you could always consider transferring them to your AAdvantage account. I wouldn’t suggest doing it unless it’s either a very small amount like a couple thousand just to top off your account to hit the threshold for a specific award, or if you’re going to transfer in increments of 20,000 points so that you score that 5,000-mile bonus, essentially getting a 25% bonus on your transfer.
10. 25,000 Bonus Miles with the Business ExtrAA Promo: American launched a targeted promotion for businesses that are part of its Business ExtrAA program. When you register for the special promo by December 31, 2012, you’ll earn 500 Business ExtrAA bonus points and 2,500 AAdvantage bonus miles. To earn an additional 500 bonus points and 10,000 bonus miles you must book and fly one round-trip using your company’s Business ExtrAA account number by December 31, 2012. To earn an additional 1,000 bonus points and 12,500 bonus miles you must book and fly two additional round-trips (for a total of 3 round-trips) by December 31, 2012. Minimum round-trip fare of $250 applies for qualification. AAdvantage bonus miles will be awarded only to the Travel Manager who registers for this promo. The registered Travel Manager must be an active Travel Manager on the company’s Business ExtrAA account.