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Why now is the perfect time to book American Airlines awards

June 11, 2020
4 min read
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At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

Because of the uncertainty around what the future looks like, airlines across the world are offering unprecedented flexibility for booking new travel. Some carriers have gone as far as allowing free destination changes or the ability to convert vouchers to frequent flyer miles.

Of the big three U.S. carriers, American Airlines' latest change fee waiver is one of the most generous. Not necessarily for paid tickets, but for those booked with miles. And that's exactly why now is the perfect time to book an award ticket.

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American’s flexible travel waiver

If you book a paid ticket before June 30 for travel before Sept. 30, you are allowed to make a one-time change free of charge. You'll still owe a possible fare difference if the new ticket is more expensive, but at least there's some flexibility. It's too bad that that the waiver only covers late summer travel.

However, you'll have much more flexibility if you book an award ticket. In this case, American is waiving all change and cancellation fees for tickets booked in the month of June. This means that you can lock in award space now for future travel and decide to cancel it just a few days before your trip and still get your miles and taxes back. Furthermore, AA is waiving the upgrade re-deposit fee for any upgrades applied this month.

American Airlines Flagship First (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Because of the vast number of award seats currently available, now is the perfect time to lock in an AAdvantage award, thanks to the temporary risk-free cancellation waiver. (Delta also has the same policy for awards but United’s is much less flexible).

Related: How to upgrade your American Airlines flight using miles

New award fee structure has been delayed

As part of the AAdvantage elite status extension news, American overhauled its award fee structure. The new structure allows you to make free cancellations 60 or more days before departure, but the fees vary closer to your trip. Additionally, if you’re traveling with a family, the discounted redeposit fees for two or more tickets have been eliminated.

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Originally, this new fee structure was supposed to be implemented on June 1. The carrier has delayed its implementation by a month, leaving June to be the best month to book award tickets. There’s always a chance of further delays, but if you find the award space you’re looking for, there’s hardly a reason to wait.

Related: American Airlines joins Delta and United in extending elite status and more

Devaluations are looming

Even if you have a hunch that American might extend its flexible waivers into July, devaluations are likely on their way, thereby reducing the value of your miles. That’s why I’d lock in future travel now — to take advantage of the current rates coupled with the fee-free cancellation option.

American Airlines Airbus A321T (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Three weeks ago, American pulled its legacy award search tool. While the new tool shows a wider range of awards, its purpose-built for a dynamic pricing era.

As such, AA is likely gearing up to remove its award charts. When they do, there’s no telling how much a flight will cost. When that happens, the redemption values will likely be devalued, making now the perfect time to book your award.

Related: How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Bottom line

American Airlines award tickets booked in the month of June can be changed or canceled without a fee. With devaluations on the horizon, it pays to lock something in now.

So, start booking your awards, but don’t forget to leave some award space for me.

Featured image by American Airlines First class (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023