Your ultimate guide to AAdvantage dining rewards
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There are many different ways to earn points and miles, from the obvious ones (like flying or spending on a credit card) to some that aren’t as well known (like online shopping portals). One of my favorite ways to “double dip” and earn a higher bonus on purchases I was planning to make already is by signing up for airline dining rewards programs.
Today, we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know to maximize the American Airlines AAdvantage dining rewards program.
AAdvantage dining overview
One of the best things about AAdvantage dining is that you can set it and forget it, and reap bonus miles whenever you happen to eat at a participating restaurant. Simply head over to www.aadvantagedining.com to register and link your credit card and AAdvantage account. You’ll want to be careful about the timing of your registration, because new members can earn 1,000 bonus miles (worth $14 based on TPG’s latest valuations) after signing up and spending $25 in your first 30 days.
You’ll only earn miles when dining at eligible participating restaurants, but you can find a list pretty easily by searching on the website. You can search for specific restaurants by name, but I find it easier to simply type in a zip code and scroll through the list of nearby options.
You can link as many credit cards as you want to your AAdvantage dining account, but you can only link each credit card to one airline’s dining program. In other words, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card and want to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points at participating restaurants, you can’t link it to both the United MileagePlus dining rewards program and the AAdvantage dining rewards program.
It costs nothing to join AAdvantage dining, and your membership will stay active as long as you have at least one qualifying dining trip every 36 months.
There are three different membership tiers in the AAdvantage dining program that affect how many miles you’ll earn per dollar:
- Basic members earn 1 mile per $1 spent if you elect to not receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- Select members earn 3 miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- VIP members earn 5 miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining AND have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year. (Members start earning at the VIP level on their 12th qualified transaction.)
It’s worth noting that these earning rates are in no way connected to your American Airlines elite status, which means that a general AAdvantage member who only takes one flight per year could earn more miles than a Concierge Key member who lives in the skies, if they dine more frequently with AAdvantage dining. Miles will appear in your AAdvantage dining account as soon as the transaction is finalized by the restaurant — usually within 5 days — and should post to your main AAdvantage account within six to eight weeks.
Takeout during COVID-19
Or course, many dining establishments across the U.S. are currently closed or restricted to take-out orders only in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Thankfully, to-go orders from participating restaurants will still earn you bonus miles.
However, these rewards programs are taking things one step further. Typically, using an online food-delivery app — like GrubHub, Seamless or Uber Eats — to order from a participating restaurant wouldn’t earn you bonus American miles. However, the AAdvantage dining program is temporarily allowing you to still earn 1 mile for every dollar you spend in this fashion. Simply save your receipt and complete this form with your full order information.
While this won’t get VIP or Select members the elevated earning rates as ordering directly will, it’s still nice to see this change to support local businesses during these challenging times.
What cards to use
Depending on your status within the AAdvantage dining program, you’ll earn anywhere from 1 mile (a 1.4% return) to 5 miles (a 7% return) per dollar spent at eligible restaurants. The good news is that these bonus AAdvantage miles are in addition to any credit card rewards you’d earn on the purchase. Your transactions will still be processed by the restaurant at which you’re eating, which means you’ll want to pick a card with a great bonus category for dining. Some popular choices include:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 a year; then 1x), an 8% return based on TPG’s valuations. Terms apply.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel, a 6% return
- Citi Prestige® Card: Earn 5x ThankYou points on dining and airfare, an 8.5% return.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Meanwhile, if you’re focused solely on earning American Airlines miles, you can also consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® which offers 2x miles per dollar at restaurants — though this represents a lower return than the other options on this list. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you have more than one card that you regularly use when dining out, you’ll want to make sure you link them all to your AAdvantage dining account so you won’t have any issue when it comes time to pay the bill. I frequently switch between my Amex Gold and Chase Sapphire Reserve (depending on whether I’m more interested in earning Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points), and so I keep both cards linked to my account.
Whether you choose to sign up with American Airlines or another carrier, airline dining rewards programs like this offer an amazing opportunity to double dip and earn even more miles when dining out. If you eat out regularly, and/or a restaurant you frequent is one of the approved partners, you may have an easy time earning select or even VIP status and boosting your earning rates significantly.
Featured photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images.
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