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It happened. My wife’s (TPG Contributor Katie Genter) AAdvantage account topped 1,000,000 miles. A combination of bonuses from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, Special Fare mileage runs, promotions and general hoarding has pushed her balance into seven digits.
Don’t worry… we will be spending these down soon. But, for now, it’s fun to think about all of the (hypothetical) options we have for spending 1,000,000 AAdvantage miles, especially considering how challenging it can be to redeem them for actual American Airlines flights.
1. 454 People Magazine Subscriptions
Through Mags For Miles, you can redeem AA miles for a list of magazine subscription options — from 100 miles for 12 issues of ESSENCE to 2,200 miles for 54 People magazine issues.
If we wanted to use all 1,000,000 AA miles at once, we could get over 45 years’ worth of subscriptions to all 25 magazines on the list:
Cigar Aficionado, Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Diabetes Forecast, Entertainment Weekly, ESSENCE, Fortune, Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golfweek, Health, InStyle, Money, New York Magazine, People, People en Espanol, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Kids, StyleWatch, Sunset, TIME, Travel + Leisure, Vogue, Whisky Advocate, Wine Spectator
2. 160 Years’ Worth of Newspaper Subscriptions
If we wanted to get newspaper subscriptions instead, there’s also a mileage option for that. Even though all of the options I found are digital subscriptions, the website makes you search by ZIP code. And, most ZIP codes I tried returned no results. The ZIP code I found with the most options is 60007:
Here are all of the newspaper options I found:
- Dallas Morning News: 1,555 miles per 13 weeks
- El Nuevo Herald: 1,559 miles per 3 months
- Miami Herald: 1,559 miles per 3 months
- The Charlotte Observer: 1,559 miles per 3 months
Taken to the extreme, we could use our one million AA miles for 160 years of subscriptions for one newspaper — or 40 years of subscriptions for each of these four.
3. 200 Years of LifeLock Membership
Another option for our AA miles: 6 months of LifeLock membership for 2,500 miles. Unfortunately, we can’t buy multiple years of it at a time. The terms state that our membership will auto-renew at $9 per month or $99 per year. So, we’ll have to cancel and sign up again every six months. And there’s probably going to be a devaluation or two sometime during those 200 years.
Another downside is that you can’t check the terms and conditions. It seems that this is such a rarely used mileage redemption AA hasn’t figured out that the T&C link is broken. So, we can’t check to see if you can only make a purchase for yourself or if you can gift the membership to others. After all, 200 years is more time than most of us have left to be worried about theft of our identity.
4. $3,895 of Chipotle Gift Cards
By linking Katie’s AAdvantage account to Points.com, we now have the option of redeeming AAdvantage miles for gift cards. We are limited to redeeming 150,000 miles per year, the “process typically take 20-25 days to complete and for you to receive your gift card” and the rate is pretty low: between 0.29-0.42 cents per mile. But, it’d be one way of cashing out our AAdvantage miles.
Redemption options differ across the 63 gift card options, but generally there’s one or more of the following options:
- $5 for 1,706 miles (0.29 cents per mile)
- $10 for 2,882 miles (0.35 cents per mile)
- $25 for 6,412 miles (0.39 cents per mile)
- $50 for 12,294 miles (0.41 cents per mile)
- $100 for 24,058 miles (0.42 cents per mile)
- $250 for 59,352 miles (0.42 cents per mile)
- $500 for 118,176 miles (0.42 cents per mile)
Sadly, we can only buy Chipotle gift cards in $25 increments. So, our 1,000,000 miles will only buy $3,895 of gift cards (155 x $25 gift cards and 2 x $10 gift cards). Since we can get a better rate cashing out for BP gift cards, we could instead use our one million miles to get $4,225 of BP gift cards (8 x $500 gift cards, 2 x $100 gift cards and 1 x $25 gift card). That’s a lot of gas.
5. 11 Years of Admirals Club Annual Memberships
American Airlines also gives us the chance to redeem AAdvantage miles for Admirals Club memberships. Although we can use the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard to get an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder and Admirals Club entry for up to ten authorized users, maybe we want to spend miles instead of paying the $450 annual fee.
Unfortunately, there isn’t the option to give the gift of an Admirals Club membership. When trying to redeem miles for an Admirals Club membership, we only have the option of paying 60,000 (Executive Platinum) to 85,000 miles (general member) for a single membership or 85,000 (Executive Platinum) to 135,000 (general member) for yourself and your spouse:
6. 13 Domestic One-Way Flights During the Holidays
If you want to fly during the holidays, American Airlines will charge you obscene amounts — even for the shortest routes. How about the 190-mile, 30-minute trip between Dallas (DFW) and Austin (AUS)? Forget the 7,500-mile redemption rate for nonstops under 500 miles; you’re going to be paying 75,000 miles.
Where does this fall on AA’s award chart? Well, it doesn’t. Domestic one-ways officially max out at 30,000 miles. If you check the fine print, you’ll see “There are select dates that require a higher number of miles (in addition to Level 1 and 2 awards).” Seems AA has no shame in charging 10x the price of a saver award on this route for these “select dates.”
7. One First-Class Round-Trip to Australia
We at TPG love Australia, and what better way to celebrate 1,000,000 miles than flying in American Airlines first class? Let’s check some dates and… nope. It’s 670,000 miles round-trip per person. Sadly, one million miles isn’t enough miles for both of us to get first-class tickets together on certain dates.
At rates like 370,000 one-way in first class for the outbound, you’ll have no trouble burning through 1,000,000 AAdvantage miles!
But Really, How Should I Redeem My AA Miles?
While this was a fun tongue-in-cheek look at the most ridiculous ways of spending 1,000,000 AAdvantage miles, you might be wondering about redemptions that are actually worthwhile.
Hands-down, our best use of American Airlines miles has been 70,000 AA miles for Qatar business class one-way from Boston (BOS) to Doha (DOH) on the Airbus A350. Thankfully, Qatar has had some great award availability recently too.
One of my other favorites is Reduced Mileage Awards. While this is tougher as it requires elusive MileSAAver award availability, you can score domestic one-ways for 5,850 to 7,875 miles after the discount and rebate (a credit card benefit of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard). The current list is only bookable for a few more days, so double-check the list to see if your home airport or a favorite destination is on the list.
There are other great options such as expensive short-haul flights, Cathay Pacific economy — especially to the Maldives — and a slew of other options that don’t require AAward AAvailability.
How would you spend 1,000,000 American Airlines miles?
Featured image courtesy of Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images.
If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.
- Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
- Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
- Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*