American Airlines AAdvantage guide: The best ways to earn and use AAdvantage miles

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AAdvantage guide

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As one of the world’s largest airlines, boasting the largest fleet in the world and a massive list of destinations, American Airlines is a great choice for world travelers. And, if you are member of the AAdvantage program, American Airlines offers yet another advantage:  some of the most valuable award miles in the industry. You can fly far with AAdvantage miles – if you can find availability, and if you can deal with restrictive award routing rules.

What is AAdvantage?

AAdvantage is the loyalty program of American Airlines, rewarding loyal customers with elite status benefits and airline miles that they can redeem for a variety of awards, including free flights on American Airlines and its oneworld partners.

The AAdvantage program comes with about as many downsides as upsides. A major plus for the AAdvantage program is its MileSAAver awards. With MileSAAver awards, you can book award flights to most destinations for a very low number of miles. But you need to have a lot of flexibility in your schedule to locate these awards and you’ll have to deal with a lot of other quirks in the AAdvantage program, including a rule that prevents you from routing an award flight over three zones.

Essentially, the AAdvantage program isn’t the best option for someone who prefers to redeem their miles simply and painlessly, but it could be a great option for value hunters.

Read on to see if the AAdvantage miles are a good fit for you. 

AAdvantage program overview

 
Type of currency Miles
Average point value 1.9 cents
Credit cards AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, AAdvantage Mileup Mastercard, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, AAdvantage Gold World Elite Mastercard, Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard, Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, Aviator Blue World Elite Mastercard, Aviator Mastercard, Aviator Business Mastercard, American Express/American Express Business Extra Corporate
Redemption options Flight awards, flight upgrades, car rentals, hotels, vacation packages, Admirals Club membership, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, gift cards, LifeLock identity theft protection, charity donations
Minimum required to redeem 7,500 miles for flight awards
Do rewards expire? After 18 months of no activity (earning or redeeming miles)
Airline partners 12 oneworld Alliance partners and 11 additional partners

Flight coverage

Excellent. More than 14,250 daily flights to more than 1,000 destinations in more than 150 countries

Booking restrictions

  • MileSAAver awards have blackout dates and seat restrictions. AAnytime awards do not 
  • Restrictive routing rules – you must take the most direct route possible and you can’t cross a zone to get between two zones 
  • One-way and open-jaw award bookings permitted 
  • Stopovers not permitted 
  • Change an award ticket at any time for no fee, as long as origin and destination remain the same 
  • Hold an award seat for up to 5 days before booking
  • $25-$35 fee for phone bookings
Best for
  • Frequent American Airlines flyers
  • World travelers
  • Travelers who want the highest possible value for their miles
  • Travelers with a lot of flexibility in their scheduling

The Basics

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Updated: 11-16-2018