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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard are both currently offering elevated offers. Instead of the previous offer, you’ll now get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
While there’s a growing — and understandable — sentiment that that AAdvantage miles are “useless,” in reality they are far from that. Yes, American Airlines is known for having AAtrocious AAward AAvailability, which just led TPG to reduce his valuation of AAdvantage miles. That said, there are ways of using AAdvantage miles where you can still get outsized value.
So, let’s take a look at your best options for using these 60,000 AAdvantage miles from the sign-up bonus.
Reduced Mileage Awards
Reduced Mileage Awards are still one of my favorite ways of stretching my AAdvantage miles, and I’ve gotten up to 11.1 cents per mile on these redemptions. For just 8,750 miles, you can get a one-way domestic flight to/from one of the listed airports. The price drops to just 6,500 miles one-way if your flight is under 500 miles.
If you signed up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, you’ll get an immediate 10% rebate on these award purchases. So, you’ll end up paying just 7,875 miles one-way — or 5,850 miles for flights under 500 miles — for these flights.
Although there aren’t as many airports during the summer, this is a great way of stretching your miles during the fall, winter and spring. I’ve seen up to 171 potential origins/destinations to choose from as recently as this January — including a slew of skiing destinations that had plenty of award availability.
After spending $3,000 in the first three months, you’ll have at least 63,000 AAdvantage miles to use. For the personal card, you’ll be able to get exactly eight one-ways (or four round-trips) out of these miles. If you’re eyeing flights under 500 miles, you can get 10 one-way flights (or five round-trips).
Routes Under 500 Miles
Speaking of flights under 500 miles, even if you aren’t able to get a reduced mileage award on the route you want, you can still get great value out of award bookings for nonstop flights under 500 miles each way. Rather than the standard domestic award price of 12,500 miles one-way, you only have to redeem 7,500 miles for these short flights.
That means your 63,000 AAdvantage miles get you eight one-ways — or nine after the 10% rebate on the personal Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card — on these routes. Considering Bureau of Transportation data shows that some of these routes average over $300 one-way, you can get incredible value out of these redemptions.
Round-Trip First-Class Flights to Alaska
If you’re looking to spend the entire bonus on one trip, Alaska is a great option. Using AAdvantage partner Alaska Airlines, you can get from anywhere in the lower 48 states up to Alaska for just 60,000 miles + $11 round-trip in first class. And, some of these options can be quite valuable. One award option I found from Tampa (TPA) to Anchorage (ANC) in the peak July-August Alaska season would cost over $2,000 to purchase outright.
Round-Trip First-Class Flights to Northern South America
Instead of heading north to Alaska, perhaps you want to head south. Round-trip first-class flights (on two-class aircraft) to American Airlines’ “South America Region 1” (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Northern Brazil, Peru) cost just 60,000 miles round-trip. Since you’re unlikely to find American Airlines award availability, search for awards on AAdvantage partner LATAM for flights from New York City (JFK), Washington, D.C. (IAD), Miami (MIA) or Los Angeles (LAX). Bonus: Many aircraft on these routes feature lie-flat seats.
If you get the personal version of the card, you’ll get a 10% rebate on the redemption, giving you enough miles for a one-way redemption intra-country, for flights wholly within Ecuador (5,000 miles one-way), Peru (6,000), Columbia (6,000), Argentina (6,000), Chile (6,000) or Brazil (7,500).
Round-Trip Economy Flights to Europe
Who doesn’t want to head to at least some part of Europe? Heck, I’m even writing this from Europe right now. Economy round-trips on American Airlines or partners such as British Airways, Finnair or Iberia cost 60,000 miles. If you’re looking to stretch your miles further, you can fly during off-peak dates for 45,000 miles round-trip. For both American Airlines and partner awards, off-peak is defined as November 1 – December 14 and then January 10 – March 14.
However, you’re going to want to avoid awards on British Airways, as American Airlines passes on BA’s substantial taxes and fuel surcharges. And, finding availability on Iberia isn’t as easy, as American doesn’t show this award availability on AA.com.
One-Way Business Class to/from Europe
An excellent way of spending 57,500 AAdvantage miles would be a one-way trip to Europe in business class. American Airlines has some awesome business-class products, such as the 777-300ER business class, the new retrofit 777-200 or the brand-new 787-9 business class (to Madrid or Paris). On the flip side, the AA 767 isn’t as great of an experience, and the AA 787-8 can be good if you avoid the rocking seats.
However, as we’ve discussed, AA awards can be hard to find. Business-class saver awards to Europe can be even more of a unicorn. But, Finnair provides an excellent business-class experience. Iberia’s business-class product can also be a good choice if you get the right aircraft. Again, you’ll want to avoid British Airways due to its fuel surcharges and high taxes flying through London.
To go the opposite direction, you could use points on another mileage/points program. Or, you could utilize a cheap one-way back from Europe on a low-cost carrier such as Norwegian or even Aeroflot, as I did just recently.
One-Way Business Class to/from South Korea or Japan
Want to cross the Pacific in style rather than the Atlantic? Your 60,000 sign-up bonus — plus 3,000 from meeting the minimum spend — is enough to fly you one-way to South Korea or Japan in business class.
If you find American Airlines availability, you’ll redeem 62,500 AAdvantage miles for the one-way. The good news is you can be virtually guaranteed to get one of American’s best business-class seats on the overwater flights thanks to the 777-200 retrofit program being completed soon and the 787-9 business-class product on flights to Seoul (ICN).
But, there’s a better redemption: Award rates on partners are even cheaper than on AA. So, you can fly in Japan Airlines’ incredible business class for 60,000 miles one-way. And, JAL space will open up wide from time to time.
Despite tight American Airlines award availability, AAdvantage miles definitely aren’t worthless. Your 60,000 AAdvantage miles from the current Citi AAdvantage Platinum or CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum sign-up bonus can take you all around the US using Reduced Mileage Awards, first class to Alaska or even a splurge on a one-way business-class flight to Europe or Asia.
Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.
What’s your favorite AAdvantage redemption?
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*