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The Different Ways to Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

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


Discounted First/Business


Full-Fare Economy


Discounted Economy


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

Status Level

Earning 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 {#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.


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 four months of opening an account, you automatically earn 70,000 AAdvantage miles. 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 $1,430 monthly spend
Monthly spending:

Hotel Partners that Earn & Transfer AAdvantage

Miles {#hotelreservations}

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.


Mile Earning RateHotel Points:Miles


3 miles/$1:1


2 miles/$~3.5:1


2 miles/$5:1


2 miles/$5:1


1 mile/$10:1.5

Best Western

250 miles per stay5:1


500 miles per stay2.5:1

Club Carlson


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 {#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 Level

RequirementsEarn rate

General Member

Belong to AAdvantage1 mile/$

Online Member

Registered with AAdvantage dining and on email list3 mile/$

VIP Member

Registered with AAdvantage dining, on email list, and have made 12 restaurant visits5 mile/$


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.


Angie's List

45 miles/$

11 miles/$

5 miles/$

North Face

4 miles/$


3 miles/$

Sam's Club

1 mile/$


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.




500,750,1,000,1,250 miles /rental


500,750,1,000,1,250 miles /rental


50 miles/day


50 miles/day


1 mile/$


500 miles/rental


50 miles/day


50 miles/day


100 + 2 miles/$


500 miles/rental


200 miles/ride


150 miles/ride


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

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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, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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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.

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