How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Mar 15, 2022

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If you’re just getting into the world of points and miles, the array of loyalty programs from airlines, hotels and credit cards can be quite overwhelming. However, it’s important to know the basics of all of the major airlines, and as the largest airline by passengers carried, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across American Airlines and its AAdvantage program at some point in your travels.

Plus, American Airlines’ plethora of Oneworld and non-alliance partners means that you can use your AAdvantage miles to fly in some awesome business-class products. For example, 70,000 AAdvantage miles gets you a one-way ticket from the U.S. to the Maldives in Qatar Airways’ Qsuite — one of the best premium seats in the sky.

But if you’re confused by the multitude of ways to earn American miles, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll take you through the different methods you can use to boost your AAdvantage account balance.

Let’s get started!

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Before we dive in, though, make sure to create a free AAdvantage account on the American Airlines website. You’ll need an account before you can start earning AAdvantage miles using any of the methods we’ve outlined in the article.

Earn by flying

American Airlines planes lined up at airport gates
(Photo by Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

Earning AAdvantage miles by flying may seem like it needs no explanation, but how you earn miles for flying has changed over the years. Here’s how you can earn AAdvantage miles flying on American and its Oneworld alliance and non-alliance partners.

Flying on American Airlines

When flying on American Airlines you’ll earn miles according to the base price of your ticket minus taxes and fees. The number of miles you earn also varies based on your AAdvantage elite status. As you’d expect, the higher the status, the higher the number of miles earned.

Here’s how many miles each status tier earns per dollar spent:

  • No status – 5 miles.
  • Gold – 7 miles.
  • Platinum – 8 miles.
  • Platinum Pro – 9 miles.
  • Executive Platinum – 11 miles.

So if you buy a one-way American Airlines ticket from Chicago to New York that costs $120 and includes $20 in taxes (note that these amounts are rounded), you would earn 500 miles ($100 x 5 miles per dollar) as an AAdvantage member without elite status. Meanwhile, an Executive Platinum member would earn 1,100 miles on the same ticket.

Note that AAdvantage elite status on American flights is now earned based on how much you spent on your tickets rather than how many miles you’ve flown. The example above would earn 500 Loyalty Points (5 Loyalty Points per $1 spent as an AAdvantage member without elite status) for a non-elite member, or 1,100 Loyalty Points for an Executive Platinum elite member.

Flying with partners

You’ll earn miles based on distance flown when you add your AAdvantage number to a partner ticket. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Flying with an American Airlines partner will earn miles in one of two ways. If the partner flight was booked through American and is ticketed on American Airlines ticket stock, you’ll earn miles the same as if you were flying on an American Airlines flight. This is generally the case if you book a ticket operated by a partner airline on the American Airlines website.

How you earn miles changes when you book a ticket on a partner’s website and add your AAdvantage number to the reservation. In this case, you’ll earn miles based on how long your flight is. However, the exact earning rate depends on the fare class of your ticket. Here’s an example of the earning chart for British Airways-operated flights:

American's earning rates with British Airways
(Screenshot from

As you can see, the lower economy fare classes earn smaller percentages of miles, while premium-class fares earn bonuses beyond 100%. You can see the fare class booked by looking at your e-ticket or by calling the airline and asking. Once you’ve located the fare class, go to American’s list of partner airlines, click on the operating carrier of your flight, and find the corresponding fare class on that list. Then, multiply the mileage flown by the percentage in the fare class column. Premium fare classes will also earn the bonus listed in the “Cabin bonus” column.

(Tip: Use Great Circle Mapper to quickly calculate the distance between two airports.)

For example, if you’re flying British Airways business class in the C fare class from Los Angeles to London, you’ll earn 100% base miles plus a 150% cabin bonus. Since the flight clocks in at 5,456 miles in distance, this comes out to 13,640 AAdvantage miles earned each way.

Since you earn 1 Loyalty Point for 1 AAdvantage mile earned through partner flights, you would earn 13,640 Loyalty Points as a general AAdvantage member.

Related: Quick Points: Earn American AAdvantage status quickly with partner flights

Earn through credit cards

AAdvantage MileUp card
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

One of the easiest ways to earn American AAdvantage miles is through cobranded credit cards, both via sign-up bonuses and everyday spending. Both Citi and Barclays currently issue American credit cards, giving you six different options with different welcome bonuses and point-earning abilities.

Citi’s American AAdvantage portfolio is the most attractive of the two issuers when it comes to earning bonus miles on everyday credit card spending. Currently, Citi offers four AAdvantage cards:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere ($450 annual fee).
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on gas station, restaurant and eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere ($99 annual fee, waived for the first year).
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening ($99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months).
  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on grocery store and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere (no annual fee).

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card and CitiBusiness 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.

One of the best cards for American flyers is the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. You can use the card’s high welcome bonus for a round-trip flight to Europe, multiple flights around the U.S., or even a round-trip business-class ticket to parts of South America. Plus, the card offers inflight perks like preferred boarding, a free checked bag and a 25% discount on inflight purchases on all American Airlines flights.

We’re also big fans of the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard for business owners. Its elevated 65,000-mile welcome bonus and 2 points per dollar on select business categories like telecom, rental cars and gas stations make this a great all-around card for business owners that fly on American. Plus, you can add employees as authorized users for free, letting you earn miles on all of your business’s purchases.

The 65,000-mile welcome bonus is nothing to scoff at either. You can use the bonus for a one-way business-class ticket to Europe or Asia or a handful of domestic trips. This can help you save money on business travel, plan a family vacation or subsidize any other travel you’re planning for late 2022 and beyond.

On the other hand, Barclays offers two American AAdvantage cobranded credit cards. Bonus categories are not as good as those on the Citi cards, but you only need to make a single purchase and pay the annual fee to earn the welcome bonus. Here are the two cards by Barclays currently open to new applicants:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere.
  • AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard: Earn up to 70,000 miles: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and earn another 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. Earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on office supply, telecom, car rental and American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile per dollar elsewhere ($95 annual fee).

The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red and AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The best credit cards for American Airlines flyers

Apply for the credit card that best fits your lifestyle, and be sure that you can meet the minimum spending needed to get the welcome bonus. These offers provide tremendous value, and putting everyday purchases on any of these cards will help you rack up a lot of AAdvantage miles quickly.

Though you won’t earn Loyalty Points on your sign-up bonus, you can earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar that you spend on your credit card. This means that you could earn 200,000 Loyalty Points by spending $200,000 on your American Airlines credit card, enough for Executive Platinum status. Keep in mind that if you don’t fly 30 segments, you can still qualify for status, but you won’t be eligible to earn to select Loyalty Choice Rewards.

Earn through partners

Two women shopping online with a laptop
You can earn bonus AAdvantage miles when you shop online. (Photo by Srdjanns74/Getty Images)

You can also earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points through American’s many partners. Each of these partners offers miles for activities that you already do, like shopping, dining and banking.

AAdvantage eShopping mall

American Airlines’ AAdvantage eShopping mall awards bonus miles for everyday online purchases.

Using the portal is simple: Sign up for an account and find your merchant on the eShopping mall before you make a purchase. By clicking through this site rather than going directly to the merchant, you’ll take home bonus miles in addition to the points you earn with a rewards credit card. Each merchant offers a different number of miles per dollar spent, so you could get a hefty haul of miles on your shopping.

In addition, the AAdvantage eShopping mall offers promotions occasionally, especially as big shopping periods approach. For example, it was offering 4,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after making $1,200 in purchases the week before Black Friday.

Related: Maximizing shopping portals for your online purchases

The AAdvantage eShopping mall can be especially lucrative for business owners. The Apple Store, Dell Technologies, Staples and other popular technology providers all offer bonus miles on the AAdvantage eShopping mall.

For example, at the time of writing this article, Dell Technologies is offering 4 miles per dollar spent on purchases made through the portal. This means you’d earn 4,800 AAdvantage miles if you buy a $1,200 laptop for a new employee after clicking through the portal.

Better yet, you earn Loyalty Points through the AAdvantage shopping portal. For the above example, you’d earn 4,800 Loyalty Points. Just note that points earned from spending bonuses (like the Black Friday example above) do not count as Loyalty Points.

Related: How to earn bonus miles through the AAdvantage shopping portal

AAdvantage Dining

Aerial view of food dishes on a table
Dining out can be doubly rewarding at select restaurants through the AAdvantage Dining program. (Photo by rawpixel/Unsplash)

Think of AAdvantage Dining as a shopping portal for eating out. Just sign up for an account and link your favorite credit cards, and you’ll earn miles when you dine at a participating restaurant.

You can earn 5 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent if you are a VIP member, 3 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent as an online member and 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent as a member. You’ll become an online member by signing up for email alerts, and you can obtain VIP status after making 12 transactions within 12 months. If you have not provided a valid email address you are considered a basic member, so I’d strongly encourage you to sign up with your email (and then don’t just ignore or delete them).

AAdvantage Dining even has a welcome bonus, too. Currently, you will earn 1,000 bonus miles after spending $25 at a participating restaurant within 30 days of opening your account. Just like the shopping portal, these earnings are in addition to the standard rates on the credit card you use, so be sure to pay with a card that earns a category bonus when dining out.

Related: Maximize restaurant spending with dining rewards programs

If you dine out a lot and happen to frequent restaurants that participate in the program, you can rack up miles and Loyalty Points pretty quickly with AAdvantage Dining.

Open a Bask Bank savings account

In early 2020, Bask Bank unveiled a new savings account that earns AAdvantage miles in lieu of traditional interest. This gives AAdvantage members an interesting new way to earn AAdvantage miles that’s essentially the opposite of earning with a credit card. In short, you earn points based on how much money you save, not how much you spend.

More specifically, you’ll earn 1 AAdvantage point per dollar saved per year. Miles are paid out monthly based on your average monthly account balance, so it can help you earn a steady stream of AAdvantage miles if you fund the account with a considerable amount of money.

Further, Bask Bank is offering a 5,000-mile bonus when you open an account and keep an average balance of $5,000 or more for at least 30 days. You have 60 days from account opening to fund your account with this balance, so there’s some leeway if you need time to accrue the money. The bonus miles will post to your account six to eight weeks after you qualify for the bonus.

But should you open a Bask Bank account? That depends on how much you value AAdvantage miles.

To put this into context, TPG values AAdvantage miles at 1.77 cents per mile at the time of writing. Since you earn 1 mile per dollar saved per year, you’re effectively getting a 1.77% annual percentage yield by earning AAdvantage miles if you agree with our valuations. This is higher than the current 0.06% APY national average for savings accounts.

For example, if you saved $60,000 in a Bask Bank savings account you’d earn 60,000 AAdvantage miles. This is worth $1,060 per the TPG valuations — on the other hand, you’d earn just $36 in interest in a 0.06% APY savings account. So while we don’t advise putting all of your savings into a Bask Bank account, it may be a worthwhile place to hold your vacation fund or other short-term savings.

Although you can quickly accrue miles, you won’t earn any Loyalty Points on your Bask Bank interest.

Transfer miles from hotel programs

You can also transfer hotel points from a variety of programs directly into your AAdvantage account. While most of these offer a relatively poor value proposition, an exception is Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott points transfer to American AAdvantage at a ratio of 3 Marriott points to 1 AAdvantage mile. However, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to an airline partner, you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus.

You won’t earn Loyalty Points for these transfers.

Related: When does it make sense to transfer Marriott points to airlines?

Transfer points from Bilt Rewards

Bilt Rewards is a new loyalty program for renters. You can use your Bilt Mastercard to earn points when you pay your rent and make everyday purchases, and then transfer these points to various transfer partners, including AAdvantage, at a 1:1 transfer ratio.

Right now, Bilt Rewards is the only credit card transferable points currency that transfers to American. Bilt transfers do not count as Loyalty Points.

Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.

Earn bonus AAdvantage miles when you book hotel rooms

There are two ways to earn bonus AAdvantage miles with hotel bookings. The first is booking hotels directly through Best Western, Hyatt, Marriott, InterContinental and Wyndham.

Each of these hotels lets you earn AAdvantage miles in lieu of standard hotel points — just make sure to opt for airline mileage earning when you book your stay on the hotel’s website.

You can earn points at the following rates:

  • Best Western: 250 miles per stay.
  • Hyatt: 500 miles per stay.
  • Marriott: 1 to 2 miles per dollar spent at all Marriott brands; higher-end properties earn 2 miles per dollar spent while lower-end properties — like Aloft, Courtyard, Four Points and others — earn 1 mile per dollar spent.
  • InterContinental: 1 to 2 miles per dollar spent at all InterContinental properties; stays at Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites earn 1 mile per dollar spent and all other brands earn 2 miles per dollar spent.

Make sure to compare the number of hotel points you’d earn with the number of AAdvantage miles you’d earn before you opt to earn AAdvantage miles. Sometimes, you may come out ahead by earning hotel points instead — especially on longer hotel stays at Best Western and Hyatt where you’d instead earn hotel points based on the cost of your stay.

You can also earn AAdvantage miles on hotel stays by booking hotels through Rocketmiles. This online travel agency awards AAdvantage miles on hotel stays around the world. You can earn up to 10,000 miles per stay, with promoted and more expensive hotels often earning the most points. Boutique and independent hotels are listed on Rocketmiles too, so it’s a good way to earn bonus miles on hotels where you otherwise wouldn’t earn points.

For example, the Hamilton Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., earns 6,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-night stay in April. This hotel is not a part of a larger hotel company, so you wouldn’t earn miles if you booked directly with the hotel.

Do note that Rocketmiles sometimes prices hotels higher than if you booked directly, so always cross-check prices before you book a hotel room with the company. But if the price works, this can be an excellent way to earn bonus AAdvantage miles when you travel for work or pleasure.

When you earn AAdvantage miles on these types of transactions, you’ll also earn Loyalty Points.

Hyatt stays

In March 2019, American and Hyatt announced a partnership that allows Hyatt elite members to earn bonus points on American flights and American elite members to earn bonus miles on Hyatt stays.

After you link your World of Hyatt and AAdvantage accounts at this page, all American elite members will earn 1 AAdvantage mile and Loyalty Point for every dollar spent on Hyatt stays. While this won’t get you a first-class ticket to Asia anytime soon, it’s still a nice double-dip opportunity, especially if you’re already planning a number of Hyatt stays in the future.

These miles are earned in addition to World of Hyatt points, so Hyatt and American elite status members can truly get the best of both worlds. We highly recommend enrolling in this program if you have elite status with either company.

Book vacation packages with American Airlines Vacations

People relaxing in the pool at a Marriott hotel
Earn bonus AAdvantage miles when you book flight, hotel and car rental packages through American Airlines Vacations. (Photo courtesy of Marriott Vacation Club d’ile de France)

You can earn bonus points on vacation packages by booking through American Airlines Vacations. This is American’s in-house vacation booking portal where you can book flights, hotels and/or car rentals as a package and take advantage of discounted rates. Further, you’ll also earn a minimum of 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles on all packages booked through American Airlines Vacations. There is no minimum spending required to earn this 1,000-mile bonus.

You can earn more miles by booking hotel stays at “featured hotels.” According to American, you can earn up to 30,000 bonus AAdvantage miles per stay when you book at these hotels.

Featured hotels are listed on American Airlines Vacations’ promotions page and are updated regularly.

These limited-time promotions pop up a few times throughout the year, so make sure to check the American Airlines Vacations page before you book your next vacation. Keep in mind that you may not earn hotel points or be able to use hotel elite status benefits when you book hotels through American Airlines Vacations — you usually need to book directly with the hotel in order to take advantage of these benefits.

On the other hand, with earning so many miles, you could quickly accrue Loyalty Points to boost your status.

Book your cruise with American Airlines Cruises

When booking a cruise with American Airlines, you can earn bonus miles. As a general member, you can earn 1 mile per dollar, up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles. AAdvantage cardholders, on the other hand, earn 2 miles per dollar, up to 20,000 AAdvantage miles. If an American Airlines cardholder spent $10,000 on a cruise booked through the portal, they would earn 30,000 miles and Loyalty Points (20,000 from American Airlines Cruises and 10,000 from credit card earnings). This purchase alone would be enough to qualify for AAdvantage Gold.

In addition to earning miles and Loyalty Points, American Airlines Cruises routinely runs promotions where you can receive perks like onboard credits and cabin upgrades on your sailing.

That’s not all

This was just a sampling of American Airlines’ many partners. You can see the full list on the carrier’s website to find opportunities that will help you pump up your mileage balance with everyday spending.

  • Rental cars: American also partners with a wide variety of car rental partners.
  • Charity: You can earn AAdvantage miles by donating money to Stand Up To Cancer. When donating over $25, you’ll earn 10 miles per dollar donated to the charity, which raises funds for cancer research and awareness programs. This is a great way to earn AAdvantage miles while making a real impact on the lives of cancer patients worldwide. As you’d expect, these donations are tax-deductible too, although Stand Up To Cancer values each mile at 3 cents. The receipt of miles may reduce the tax-deductibility of your contribution.
  • Everyday purchases: American recently created a program called SimplyMiles, which allows you to earn miles on everyday purchases — both in-person and online. In order to participate, you must be a U.S.-based member and hold a Mastercard, though the card does not necessarily have to be an AAdvantage cobranded Mastercard.
  • Gas: When filling up at a Shell location, you can earn 2 miles per gallon of fuel. Plus, new members will earn 100 miles just for joining and completing their first fill-up at Shell. Sign up here. You can stack this offer with a strong credit card for gas purchases to save 10%-20% on your next fill-up.

Bottom line

Despite AAdvantage not partnering with any major transferable points programs, you can easily earn miles through flying, spending on cobranded credit cards, by opening a savings account and through numerous retail partners. Use multiple partners in tandem and you can quickly rack up a sizable AAdvantage mileage balance.

If you choose to go the credit card route, we recommend signing up for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. This card has a solid welcome bonus and earns bonus points on everyday purchases. Once miles are in your account, make sure to research the best ways to redeem them.

Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.

Featured photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy.

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