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Guide to American Airlines Business Extra

How to master American Airlines’ business frequent flyer program

Summary

American Airlines’ Business Extra was one of the first airline business loyalty programs. If you run a business, here’s how you can double-dip – and potentially triple-dip – your next flight out.

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Frequent flyer programs are less generous than they were just a few years ago.

Blackout dates and limitations are rising, points earning is tied closer to your current elite status and dynamic pricing is replacing static pricing. In short, it requires more effort to strategically earn and burn our points.

The good news is we have an alternative way to earn points: business frequent flyer miles. Parallel to regular frequent flyer miles, business miles give you and your employees the opportunity to earn additional points for corporate trips. Best of all, these miles can be redeemed separately from your personal miles.

American Airlines’ Business Extra was one of the first airline business loyalty programs. If you run a business, here’s how you can double-dip – and potentially triple-dip – your next flight out.

See related: Earn more with airline, hotel rewards program special offers and promotions

How to sign up

Business Extra is built for business leaders rather than individuals, though it is suitable for sole proprietors and entrepreneurs, too. It is free to sign up and, as of this writing, does not require a tax ID or other proof of business operation.

AA Business Extra homepage

It takes only a few minutes to sign up and get your Business Extra confirmation email. You don’t need to receive anything in the mail. You can sign up now and even travel later today, though you would have to contact American Airlines to add your Business Extra ID to your reservation (as you would if you didn’t include it in during your future trip purchases).

Once you join, Business Extra gives you 1 point for every $5 spent on qualifying American Airlines flights. Redemptions begin at 300 points for an Admiral Club day pass – or after you spend $1,500 – and rise sharply for other rewards.

There are dozens of options, from flight upgrades and free legs of travel to hotel stays and car rentals. You can even redeem AAdvantage Gold Status for 3,200 points. These rewards can be gifted to one of your employees or yourself.

Triple dipping on your miles

The Business Extra redemption value isn’t great: spending $16,000 for the 3,200-point American Airlines bottom-tier Gold Status isn’t the wisest decision. But getting the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® can get you a free checked bag, early boarding and other elite-level perks for a fraction of the investment.

There are two big strategic benefits to Business Extra, though.

First, it is a passive benefit: Once you sign up, American Airlines will automatically credit your account with points no matter what method you use to purchase flights – while still giving you or whoever is flying the personal frequent flyer miles as applicable.

Second, a little planning could have you triple-dipping on just one business trip. It all depends on how you buy your flight. Sure, you can get the American Express Business Extra Corporate Card that offers 6% back on $1.5 million in flight purchases per year and an additional Business Extra point per $20 charged. However, it may be wiser to use a separate, point-rich card to handle your business.

For instance, I’ve used my Citi Prestige card to buy an American Airlines flight: I get Citi ThankYou Points, American Airlines frequent flyer miles and AA Business Extra points. All three currencies can independently be used for future travel.

Most notably, when Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards and a few other types of credit card points are redeemed through their respective travel portals, the airlines themselves treat your points the same as cash.

In other words, you can purchase a flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards and American will give you the same frequent flyer miles and Business Extra points as it would if you paid cash.

See related: A complete guide to airline companion passes

Getting off the ground

Lastly, Business Extra has a separate booking section. Unlike upgrades, elite status and Admiral Club access, buying a flight, hotel or car rental requires going through Business Extra’s specific portal.

AA Business Extra booking

The booking area is similar to American’s main flight selector, except the price is set to points. The rates are more fixed than personal frequent flyer miles: 2,000 points can get you a round-trip ticket across most of the continental U.S., while heading from North America to parts of Africa will run 11,000 points.

Prices multiply if you need a higher class: To go first-class, that same Africa flight will run 37,000 points, or $185,000 in business flight purchases. With prices on this scale, the points are most effective when they augment your business’ current travel spend.

The Business Extra program is free, simple and potentially lucrative, especially since it passively accumulates as your business travels. Add in a smart credit card strategy and you could see even more value.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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