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Be careful: 9 times you won't earn American Airlines Loyalty Points, even if you earn miles

May 31, 2022
8 min read
American Airlines Airbus A319-100
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When American Airlines launched Loyalty Points three months ago, the race to earn AAdvantage elite status in creative ways began.

Loyalty Points are the sole metric used in qualifying for American status. From credit card spending to buying flowers through the AAdvantage Shopping Portal, there are numerous creative ways to earn Loyalty Points. You might hear people say: "A mile earned, a Loyalty Point earned." But there are plenty of exceptions to that rule.

Just as important as knowing what earns Loyalty Points, you should familiarize yourself with what won't earn Loyalty Points. After all, we don't want you miscalculating your award balance and subsequently not achieving status.

Here are nine AAdvantage earnings that won't accrue Loyalty Points.

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Transferring, gifting or buying miles

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When you buy, gift or transfer miles, you won't earn Loyalty Points. For example, you can currently buy 150,000 AAdvantage miles with a 35% discount for $3,668.44. But you'll earn 0 Loyalty Points on that transaction.

Similarly, if you transfer or gift AAdvantage miles to someone else, neither you nor they will earn Loyalty Points.

Related: You can currently buy points and miles with up to a 145% bonus — but should you?

Redeeming AAdvantage miles

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You also won't earn Loyalty Points when you redeem AAdvantage miles.

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For example, I recently booked a flight from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) in California to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) in Madrid for 40,000 AAdvantage miles in World Traveller Plus with British Airways. As you can see, I accrued no Loyalty Points.

Related: How to redeem miles with the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Welcome, spending bonuses and special promotions

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"Sign up and earn 50,000 bonus miles; book now and enjoy 5,000 bonus miles."

We've all heard these offers on flights, in airports and when calling American. Unfortunately, you won't earn Loyalty Points for welcome offers, spending bonuses and special promotions, even if it's a sign-up bonus on an AAdvantage co-branded credit card. This exclusion also applies to bonuses on the AAdvantage Shopping Portal, AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage Cruises and AAdvantage Vacations.

Of course, you'll continue to earn Loyalty Points based on the standard earning rate. For instance, Viator purchases earn a limited-time 6 miles per dollar on the AAdvantage Shopping Portal, so you'll earn 6 Loyalty Points per dollar. But if there's a promotion that lets you earn 2,000 bonus miles for spending $500, you won't accrue Loyalty Points on the bonus.

Related: Why I’m focusing on the American Airlines shopping portal this year

Credit card bonus categories

You'll earn a flat 1 Loyalty Point per $1 spent on your co-branded AAdvantage card, even if your card earns 2 miles per dollar. Take the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® which earns 2 miles per dollar at grocery stores, for example. Even though the card earns 2 miles per dollar in certain categories, regardless of where you spend, you'll earn a flat 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent.

The only exception to this rule is the no-annual-fee AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard® which earns 0.5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent across the board.

Still, if you're a business owner with high credit card spending, charging $200,000 to the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® would give you 200,000 Loyalty Points, enough for top-tier Executive Platinum status. Just note that you'd still need to fly 30 segments to earn Loyalty Choice Rewards.

In addition, there are two ways to earn bonus Loyalty Points with credit cards. Travelers with an AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard® earn 5,000 Loyalty Points when they spend $20,000 in a single status year. Plus, they earn an additional 5,000 Loyalty Points when spending $40,000 and $50,000 on the card.

The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard and AAdvantage Aviator Silver cards have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

On the other hand, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® awards 10,000 Loyalty Points when you spend $40,000 in a status year.

Related: Best credit cards for American Airlines flyers for May 2022

Bask Bank Savings Account

You're probably familiar with CD (certificate of deposit) bank accounts: deposit a certain amount of money for a set period of time, don't withdraw it and earn interest.

AAdvantage has applied this model to an arrangement with Bask Bank where AAdvantage members can deposit money into a Bask Bank Mileage Savings Account for 12 months and earn AAdvantage miles in lieu of cash interest. For every $1 that you deposit for 12 months, you earn 1 AAdvantage mile. You can deposit all the way up to $200,000 and earn 200,000 miles, and mileage interest is paid monthly.

Unfortunately, while you can earn AAdvantage miles through the Bask Bank Mileage Savings account, you won't earn Loyalty Points.

Related: Introducing Bask Bank, a new way to earn miles

Donations to fight cancer

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American awards you 10 miles per dollar when donating more than $25 to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). Last year, American offered 25 AAdvantage miles per dollar donated for a limited time when donating to SU2C. While you earn miles from these donations, you won't earn Loyalty Points.

Related: Limited time only: Earn 25x AAdvantage miles on your donation to Stand Up To Cancer

Transferring points or miles from another currency to AAdvantage

You can't transfer American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou points or Chase Ultimate Rewards to AAdvantage. Both Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy points do transfer to AAdvantage miles, but you won't earn Loyalty Points on these transfers.

The cost of your ticket outside the base fare and carrier-imposed fee(s)

Government-imposed taxes and fees do not earn Loyalty Points. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When you're flying American, you earn miles and Loyalty Points depending on your status:

  • General member: 5 miles & LPs per dollar.
  • Gold: 7 miles & LPs per dollar.
  • Platinum: 8 miles & LPs per dollar.
  • Platinum Pro: 9 miles & LPs per dollar.
  • Executive Platinum: 11 miles & LPs per dollar.

You only earn miles and Loyalty Points on the base fare and carrier-imposed fee(s). For example, every ticket in the United States includes a mandatory $5.60 secuity fee, which is ineligible for mileage and Loyalty Point credit.

You can call American and confirm how many miles and Loyalty Points your reservation will earn. Alternatively, you can pull up your itinerary on ITA Matrix and refer to the fare breakdown. Subtract out all government-imposed taxes and fees, and you'll see how much spending actually earns AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points.

For example, this flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Mexico City International Airport (MEX) costs $140.63. However, only $79 of this is eligible for earning AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points. As you can see in the fare breakdown, the rest of the cost is made up of taxes and fees imposed by the U.S. and Mexico.

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This means an AAdvantage member without elite status would earn 395 AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points while a top-tier Executive Platinum elite would earn 869 miles and Loyalty Points.

Certain partner fare classes

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Certain Oneworld partner fares are ineligible for earning miles and Loyalty Points. As you can see from the above AAdvantage Cathay Pacific earning chart, many economy class fares are ineligible for credit.

This means that you won't earn miles or Loyalty Points on these sorts of fares. You can check the full earnings list of American's partners here. If you find that your fare class isn't eligible for mileage credit on AAdvantage, you'll want to credit the flight to another Oneworld frequent flyer program.

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

Bottom line

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

While you can earn miles through a number of AAdvantage activities, not all of them earn Loyalty Points.

Loyalty Points might feel like a lot to get your head around, so feel free to start with our guide on how the new system works.

Featured image by (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.