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TPG reader Kadri sent me a message on Facebook to ask about reduced mileage awards:
“With regard to AAdvantage reduced mileage awards, does it matter whether an eligible city is your origin or destination? Also, how many tickets can I get at the lower rate? I’d like to book for my family of four.”
American Airlines offers a wide variety of co-branded credit cards, like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the AAdvantage Aviator cards from Barclaycard. Benefits range from free checked bags and priority boarding to companion certificates and lounge access, but one that sometimes gets overlooked is the discount available to AAdvantage cardholders on MileSAAver awards to select cities in North America. These reduced mileage awards can save you as much as 7,500 miles on round-trip flights, which represents a savings of up to 30%.
Kadri wants to know whether both outbound and inbound passengers can book reduced mileage awards. The American Airlines website refers to the eligible cities as “destinations,” but fortunately it doesn’t matter whether you’re arriving or departing. Assuming other requirements are met, then you can book a reduced mileage award in either direction. However, connections don’t count, so one of the cities listed must be your origin or destination, and not merely a transit point.
That said, reduced mileage awards can be booked either round-trip or one-way (for half the savings), so you could score a discounted multi-city itinerary by planning a stopover in one of the available destinations. For example, if you were traveling round-trip from Philadelphia to Phoenix, you could add a stop in Saint Louis (or another city currently on the list) by booking two one-way flights (PHL-STL and STL-PHX) for 17,500 miles instead of the 12,500 you’d need to just fly PHL-PHX. Basically, you’d be adding a stop for 5,000 miles, which is a pretty good deal in most cases.
As for Kadri’s other question, there’s no limit to the number of reduced mileage awards you can book (either on a single flight or across multiple flights). As long as you have enough miles and there’s MileSAAver availability, you can get a discount for anyone on your itinerary. However, the miles must come from the primary cardholder’s AAdvantage account, so if you book a reduced mileage award for someone else, you’re the one who has to pay for it.
I list AAdvantage miles at 1.7 cents apiece in my January monthly valuations, so 7,500 miles is worth $127.50. Even if you just book a single reduced mileage award each year, that covers the annual fee of most AAdvantage credit cards. Given that you can book as many awards as you want, this benefit has the potential to be highly lucrative if the available cities coincide with your travel plans.
For more details about booking AAdvantage awards, check out these posts:
- How to Book Awards with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
- Overview of American Airlines Routing Rules
- 5 Sweet Spots in the New American Airlines Award Chart
Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $700. In addition, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. As of July 23, 2017 this is the only card that offers Admirals Club lounge access so if you are an AA flyer this card might make sense for you. Aside from lounge access the primary cardholder will receive a Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years, first checked bag free for up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights.
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- Admirals Club® membership for you and guests with you*
- Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation*