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Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the card offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone. For a full list of our advertisers, see our disclosure page.

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page.

The Different Ways to Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Contents

Whether you want to get away in a year, or want to get away as fast as you can, AAdvantage provides a series of ways to do so. In our other American Airlines AAdvantage guide we talked about all the ways to redeem and maximize the value from your AAdvantage miles. Remarkably, there are even more ways to earn them. Flying, shopping and dining are typically the regular and ongoing ways that consumers can accumulate rewards, while bonuses from opening American Airlines credit cards or even affiliated brokerage accounts can fast track your AAdvantage miles balance. 

How to Earn Miles Through Flying

AAdvantage Miles on American Airlines

The most obvious way to accumulate miles is flying with American. For the first half of 2016, AAdvantage members can still take advantage of a "distance flown" system that will change into a "fare based" system sometime around June. American Airlines is the last of the major international American carriers to make the switch. Since the same switch was made with United Airlines and Delta Airlines, it has proven to be not as effective at earning points as a distance based system. Below you can see how you may earn AAdvantage miles until June. 

Class of Service Purchased Fares Booked InBase MilesBonusTotal
Full Fare First/Business F,J 100% 50% 150%
Discounted First/Business A,P,D,I,R 100% 50% 150%
Full-Fare Economy Y,B,W 100% 0% 100%
Discounted Economy H,K,M,L,W 100% 0% 100%

The next table illustrates how earning miles will change after June. 

Status LevelEarning Rate
General Flyer 5 miles/$
Gold/OneWorld Ruby 7 miles/$
Platinum/OneWorld Sapphire 8 miles/$
Executive Platinum/OneWorld Emerald 11 miles/$

Partner Airlines: OneWorld Alliance and Other Affiliated Partners 

American Airlines is the founding member of the OneWorld alliance, as a result, AAdvantage members are able to earn miles on partner flights. American also has strong partnerships with airlines outside the alliance such as Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines. As it currently stands, there is no advantage to earning with partners besides having more flexibility with flight times and dates. Come June however, the advantage will manifest when American makes the switch to a fare based earning scheme. Foreign airlines still operate a distance-based system meaning if you find yourself losing out on miles because of the switch, the partnered airlines may be the place to turn. Flights on Cathay Pacific or Iberia will allow flyers to accumulate 100% of the base miles flown for economy fares. Business and first class fares can get as high as 150% of the base miles flown. A cheap, long distance flight on those carriers or any partner airline could end up earning you more miles than an American Airlines flight. 

The problem with booking flights on partners is earning Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) on discounted fares. EQMs will still be accumulated on a distance basis, even after the switch, and discounted economy fares will still earn 100% of miles flown as EQMs. On AA partners however, discounted economy fares generally only earn 50% of miles flown. You should check each individual airline here since there is a slight degree of variation between them all. 

GroupAirlines
OneWorld airberlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia Airlines, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airways, S7 Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, TAM Airlines
Non-Affiliate Partners Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Interjet, Jet Airways, Seaborne Airlines, WestJet

How to Earn AAdvantage Miles Without Flying

If you're like the typical flyer, you may only find yourself in the air twice a year. American Airlines provides a number of other ways members can earn miles to augment their flights. 

Credit Cards 

Credit cards can be a convenient way to earn AAdvantage miles on purchases you would have been making already anyway. One of the best features of credit cards, if you have the credit score bandwidth, is the fantastic signing bonuses that prove to be the best way to earn a lot of AAdvantage miles quickly. With a card like the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, after spending $4,000 in the first three months of opening an account, you automatically earn 70,000 AAdvantage miles- a $455 value based on our valuation. All AAdvantage cards grant 2x miles when you make purchases through American Airlines, allowing you to accumulate miles even faster when you do actually fly. For a short time in 2016, with the AAdvantage® Aviator™ cards you can earn 2x miles on all Uber rides as well. Below you can see a list of other available American Airline co-branded credit cards. You may input your monthly spending and see which card may fit you best. 

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $99 3.50%
$837
Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases the first 3 months
$1,201
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.014 = $463
Bonuses
60,000 x $0.014 = $810
1,000 x $0.014 = $14
1,000 x $0.014 = $14
Less Annual Fees -$99
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,201

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $99
APR 17.49% - 25.49% Variable

Card Details

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent otherwise
  • First checked bag free for you and up to four traveling companions
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% discount on in-flight purchases
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $95 3.43%
$810
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
$1,178
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.014 = $463
Bonuses
60,000 x $0.014 = $810
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,178

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $95
APR 15.24%

Card Details

  • 2 miles for every $1 you spend on American Airlines
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to four traveling companions
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% discount on in-flight purchases
Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®
$50 2.04%
$338
Earn 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $700 in purchases the first 3 months
$701
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.014 = $463
Bonuses
25,000 x $0.014 = $338
Less Annual Fees -$100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 701

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $50
APR 13.99%, 17.99% or 21.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $700 in purchases the first 3 months
  • 1 AAdvantage mile for every $1 spent
  • Save 25% on eligible in-flight food and beverage purchases
  • No blackout dates on award travel
  • No spending limit
AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Mastercard®
$95 1.15%
$0
$393
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.017 = $583
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 393

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $95
APR 15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 2X miles for every dollar spent on eligible US Airways and American Airlines purchases. 1x mile for every 1 dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 1 Free Checked Bag
  • Whenever you redeem, you’ll receive 10% of your redeemed miles back
  • Priority boarding
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • 25% in-flight savings on food, beverages, and headsets on US Airways and AA operated flights
AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite Mastercard®
$195 0.56%
$0
$193
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.017 = $583
Less Annual Fees -$390
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 193

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $195
APR 15.99%, 19.99% or 124.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 3X miles for every dollar spent on eligible US Airways and American Airlines purchases. Earn 2X miles for every dollar spent on eligible hotels and car rentals. 1x mile for every 1 dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Apply for Global Entry with TSA Pre_™ and, upon approval, experience expedited, more efficient security screenings, moving you smoothly through U.S. customs when returning from traveling abroad.
  • Pay for the $100 Global Entry application fee with your card and you’ll automatically receive a $100 statement credit 2-3 weeks after your transaction.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
$450 -1.27%
$0
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after $5,000 in purchases the first 3 months
$-437
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.014 = $463
Bonuses
0 x $0.014 = $0
Less Annual Fees -$900
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -437

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $450
APR 15.24%

Card Details

  • 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent otherwise
  • Admirals Club membership for you and your immediate family
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • First checked bag is free for you and your companions
  • Priority check-in, screening, and boarding
  • Receive a 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases
  • No annual mileage cap
 

Hotel Partners that Earn & Transfer AAdvantage Miles

Hotels and airlines are the giants of the travel industry so it makes sense that they form partnerships. It just so happens that American Airlines has relationships with most major hotel brands, allowing AAdvantage members to earn miles during stays at their properties. The hotels also allow you to transfer their reward points for AAdvantage miles at a predetermined ratio. Below you may see which hotels American Airlines is partnered with. 

HotelMile Earning RateHotel Points:Miles
Starwood 3 miles/$ 1:1
Marriott 2 miles/$ ~3.5:1
Wyndham 2 miles/$ 5:1
IHG 2 miles/$ 5:1
Hilton 1 mile/$ 10:1.5
Best Western 250 miles per stay 5:1
Hyatt 500 miles per stay 2.5:1
Club Carlson N/A 10:1

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) will give you 3 miles, while Marriott, IHG and Wyndham hotels will give you 2 miles per dollar spent during your stay at one of their properties. The only issue is that you have to earn the miles in place of hotel points. If earning hotel points is not nearly as important to you as earning miles though, this is a great way to rack up miles. As for transferring miles, SPG gives the best exchange ratio. However, Marriott points can be moved over at a more favorable ratio (1:1) by using Marriott's "hotel + air" packages - we go into more detail about that program here.

Getting AAdvantage Miles by Dining 

Whether you want a bar, a fancy sit down, or something exotic, the American Airlines dining portal has a sophisticated search engine that will be able connect you to over 11,000-partnered restaurants where you can earn miles. Once you register online with a credit or debit card and subscribe to emails, you will start to earn 3 miles per dollar spent. This happens automatically behind the scenes, as long as you use the same card as the one registered at the restaurants. AAdvantage members who do not register online and/or sign-up for emails will still be able to earn miles, but only at 1 mile/$.

At the VIP level, you'll be earning as many points as you would be as a general passenger on an American Airlines flight, and chances are, you eat out more frequently than you fly. Visiting 12 restaurants within the year lets you achieve this VIP status, which will garner you 5 miles per dollar. As well for a limited time, you automatically get 1,000 miles after you spend $30 within 30 days of registering, use the card you signed up with, and write an online review. The entire program is entirely free, and if you dine out frequently, and are open to trying thousands of new restaurants, there may be no better way to rack up miles.

Status LevelRequirementsEarn rate
General Member  Belong to AAdvantage 1 mile/$
Online Member Registered with AAdvantage dining and on email list 3 mile/$
VIP Member Registered with AAdvantage dining, on email list, and have made 12 restaurant visits 5 mile/$

Shopping 

Like Delta and United, American has a shopping portal where you can earn bonus miles by shopping at over 800-partnered online retailers. The partnered retailers span from florists, to tax services, electronic stores, and really anything else you may purchase at least once a year. Another benefit about these portals is you do not need to use an American credit card. Any card you have - it could even be a competitor like the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card - the portal will accept it and allow you to collect the miles for American and for United. If your main focus is to collect AAdvantage miles however, you should consider the American Airlines co-branded cards since whatever bonus miles earned through the portal will add to the miles you are already accumulating with the AAdvantage credit card. For example, purchases at RiteAid, which get 5 miles per dollar in the portal, will really be 6 miles per dollar if you use a AAdvantage credit card. Below you can see a sample of retailers and the bonus miles each offers. 

RetailersEarnings
Angie's List 45 miles/$
Resturant.com 11 miles/$
Saks.com 5 miles/$
North Face 4 miles/$
TicketLiquidator 3 miles/$
Sam's Club 1 mile/$

Cruises 

The world's most popular cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian all allow you to earn AAdvantage miles when booking through AA's referral website. The usual rate is 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent. However, booking certain cruises such as a European-based, Norwegian Cruise could earn you up to 20,000 bonus miles. 

AAdvantage Miles from Car Rentals

American Airlines has different mileage earning schemes in place with some of the most popular car rental companies. In the case of Avis and Budget, standard members earn 500 miles per rental, AAdvantage credit cardholders earn 750 miles, Gold and Platinum status members earn 1,000 miles, and lastly Executive Platinum members earn 1,250 miles. National and Alamo earn miles on a per day basis while Hertz is the only rental company that allows AAdvantage members to earn on a per dollar basis. The different schemes provide a bit of flexibility when deciding which service to use. If you know your rental will be expensive, over $600, Hertz may be your best option if you are just a general AAdvantage member. 

ServicePartnered 
Avis 500,750,1,000,1,250 miles /rental
Budget 500,750,1,000,1,250 miles /rental
National 50 miles/day
Alamo 50 miles/day
Hertz 1 mile/$
Payless 500 miles/rental
Europcar 50 miles/day
Dollar 50 miles/day
Carmel 100 + 2 miles/$
Sixt 500 miles/rental
Groundlink 200 miles/ride
ExecuCar 150 miles/ride
Supershuttle 50 miles/ride

Financial Partners

A fiscally mature way to earn miles is by opening up or adding to an existing non-retirement Fidelity Brokerage Account. A deposit of $25,000 gives you 15,000 miles while a deposit of $100,000 gives you 50,000 miles. It does require you to have a fairly decent amount of money already on hand, but if your love of investing matches your love of travel, it's the perfect combination. 

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and American Express Cash Magnet℠ Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.