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The best ways to earn AAdvantage miles

March 09, 2020
8 min read
AA Jan. 7, 2017 St Martin
The best ways to earn AAdvantage miles
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Whether you're new to the American Airlines AAdvantage® program or a long-time user, it's important to stay on top of the best ways to earn miles. After all, there are a multitude of ways to earn AAdvantage® miles, and some are certainly more lucrative than others.

Travel rewards cards, of course, are still a primary way to get rewarded for your spending. And American still has a number of program partners that offer AAdvantage® rewards.

But one of the newest ways to earn miles is through banking. Bask Bank is a new all-digital bank that provides travelers with the ability to earn AAdvantage® miles for saving money instead of spending. That puts it at the top of the list of alternative ways to easily increase the miles in your airline loyalty program. Customers of the bank earn one mile for every dollar saved, annually.

The nice thing about this kind of savings account is that it can be used in several different ways. It's a tactical solution for building up your miles balance whenever you're planning a trip.

We'll take a look at Bask Bank below and discuss why you may want to open an account.

Here are some of the best ways to earn AAdvantage® miles:

Open an account with Bask Bank

The more you save in a Bask Savings Account, the more miles you'll earn. The bank launched in 2020 and is the only savings account that rewards customers with AAdvantage® miles instead of interest.

This is potentially a very easy way to increase your AAdvantage® balance.

For example, let's say you deposit $5,000 per month into the account and maintain it in the account for a year. After 12 months, you'd save $60,000 and earn 32,500 AAdvantage® miles.**

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Notably, this account earns AAdvantage® miles in lieu of interest. So, you'll need to decide if you're comfortable with forgoing interest earnings on your savings.

Still, if you're a frequent American Airlines traveler, it's very possible that a Bask Savings Account would provide more value than a traditional savings account. That's because a savings account with $60,000 that's earning the industry average of 0.09% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)* would yield $54 in interest annually. Alternatively, saving $60,000 with Bask Bank would earn you 60,000 miles annually, which at TPG's current valuation of AAdvantage® miles (1.4 cents per mile) is worth $840.

But opening this savings account isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. You don't have to make it your primary account. It's meant to be a tool in your overall portfolio for building your miles balance and meeting your travel goals, which is why there are no minimums — you can move money in and out as you please. Whenever you need to build up your miles balance for a trip, you deposit money. You take the money out when you've hit your goals.

Having travel goals, of course, makes it easier to set aside money over time. So it's important to think about how you want to spend the miles you build up in this account, whether that's to travel to Europe with a group of people or across the U.S. to visit family and friends.

The true advantage a Bask Savings Account is that it provides a lot of optionality — you can use your miles to meet multiple goals. The more miles you build up in your portfolio, the more experiences you can get. Miles also give you a great option for booking American Airlines tickets when buying in cash may be too expensive.

To boost your miles balance even further off the bat, Bask Bank is offering a number of special incentives for new customers. That includes a feedback bonus of 1,000 miles, an account opening balance as high as 5,000 bonus miles and a balance bonus as high as 40,000 miles. Both the New Account and Balance Bonus offers are valid through 4/30/2020.

If you want to earn more miles without any additional spending, Bask Bank is worth considering.

AAdvantage® bonus miles are awarded within 10 business days upon meeting offer qualifications and may take 6-8 weeks to post to your AAdvantage® account.

The value of the bonus offers will be reported to the IRS and the recipient is responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.

Use travel credit cards and collect sign-up bonuses

American Airlines cobranded travel rewards credit cards are one of the easiest ways to earn American AAdvantage® miles. These cards reward you with miles for your everyday spending and offer enticing sign-up bonuses to boot.

You'll find six different American Airlines credit card options, with four backed by Citi and two by Barclays.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is one of the best cards from American Airlines. You can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases with the first three months of opening an account. TPG puts the value of that bonus at $700. In addition, you earn 2x AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar spent on everything else.

If you want to maximize the miles you earn, try using a cobranded credit card in conjunction with other methods of earning miles. For example, if you were to earn 50,000 bonus miles from the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard and save $60,000 within the same year in a Bask Savings Account, you'd earn a total of 110,000 AAdvantage miles valued at $1,540.

Earn by flying on American Airlines and its partners

Naturally, you can earn AAdvantage® miles by flying on American and any of its partners.

The number of miles you earn when flying American is calculated according to the base price of your ticket minus taxes and fees. It also varies based on your AAdvantage® elite status. If you have no elite status, you'll earn 5 miles per dollar spent. So, if you purchase a ticket that's $100 not including taxes and fees, you'll earn 500 miles. You earn more miles per dollar spent as your elite status increases.

When it comes to American's partners, there are two ways you can earn miles — you can either book through American Airlines or through a partner website. The miles you earn will vary based on how the ticket is booked and the fare class of your ticket.

Of course, in addition to the miles you earn by flying American and its partners, you can also redeem miles you've earned from travel credit cards, bank accounts or other methods towards flights.

Earn through partners

American has a slew of partners that offer miles rewards for things like hotel stays, shopping and dining.

Here are some of those opportunities:

  • American and Hyatt launched a program in May 2019 that allows American elite members to earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on Hyatt stays.
  • The AAdvantage® eShopping mall awards members for everyday purchases online through a number of different merchants. You can earn miles twice in this way: Once for making a purchase through the shopping portal, and once for using your credit card to make the purchase.
  • The AAdvantage® Dining portal offers the opportunity to earn miles when you dine at participating restaurants. You can earn as high as 5 AAdvantage® miles per dollar as a VIP member.

Bottom line

The best ways to earn AAdvantage® miles reward you for the things you're already doing, whether that's spending money on flights, eating at restaurants or stashing away cash in a savings account.

If you're open to a new way of earning miles, one that rewards you for saving instead of spending, consider opening a Bask Savings Account today.

* Earning national average .09% interest rate. Based on FDIC calculated national average annual percentage yield of .09% effective as of 12/02/19.

** Earning 1 AAdvantage® mile for every dollar deposited annually

Bask Bank and BankDirect are divisions of Texas Capital Bank, N.A. The sum of your total deposits with (i) Bask Bank; (ii) BankDirect; and (iii) Texas Capital Bank, N.A. are insured up to $250,000. Member FDIC

Featured image by American Airlines plane landing at Sint Maarten Airport (SXM) in January of 2017. (Photo by Clint Henderson/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.