American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, with the most commercial flights in operation at any given time.
AAdvantage is American Airlines’s loyalty program, which is very useful not only for unlocking American Airlines flights at a discount, but also for accessing award flights with other Oneworld carriers.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about American Airlines AAdvantage, including how to optimize your earning and redemptions within the program.
Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
For Canadians, and even for Americans, earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles is quite difficult, although it’s not impossible. With fewer transfer partners than other programs, and therefore fewer avenues to earn miles, you’ll just have to be more intentional with your earning approach.
Transferring Points to AAdvantage Miles
One of the easiest ways to rack up airline loyalty miles is to transfer points from a major credit card or bank program to a frequent flyer program.
With the American Airlines AAdvantage program, it’s no different; however, unlike a majority of airline loyalty programs, AAdvantage doesn’t have as many credit card transfer partnerships.
In fact, the only bank or credit card transfer option is through RBC Avion. You can transfer RBC Avion points to AAdvantage miles at a rate of 1:0.7, with the occasional transfer bonus making the rate more favourable.
You can also earn AAdvantage miles by transferring points from several hotel loyalty programs.
Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to AAdvantage miles at a rate of 3:1.
World of Hyatt points can also be transferred to AAdvantage miles, and at a slightly better ratio of 2.5:1. There’s a minimum transfer of 5,000 World of Hyatt points, and a bonus 5,000 AAdvantage miles to be earned if you transfer at least 50,000 World of Hyatt points.
IHG One Rewards points can also be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, albeit at a less favourable rate of 10,000 IHG Rewards = 2,000 AAdvantage miles.
While there aren’t any Canadian-issued credit cards that earn AAdvantage miles, there are a fair number of US-issued credit cards offered by CitiBank and Barclays.
Depending on the card, you can earn between 10,000–80,000 AAdvantage miles as a welcome bonus, with the ability to earn more AAdvantage miles by using your credit card for daily spending.
Most cards earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines, as well as on card-specific categories. Otherwise, you’ll earn a base rate of 1 mile per dollar spent.
All of these cards, along with their earn rates and current welcome bonuses, can be found on the American Airlines website.
Earn Miles by Flying
You can also earn AAdvantage miles when you book with cash and fly with American Airlines, other Oneworld airlines, or some other airlines outside of the Oneworld Alliance.
The AAdvantage earning structure differs depending on the airline you’re flying with. All airline partners, and the number of AAdvantage miles you’ll earn with each, can be found on the American Airlines website.
If you’ve paid for an American Airlines flight with cash, you’ll earn AAdvantage miles based on the amount you spend on the base fare plus carrier-imposed surcharges, but excluding government-imposed taxes and fees.
Furthermore, the amount you earn fluctuates depending on your status. Passengers will earn the following amount of AAdvantage miles on the base fare plus carrier-imposed fees:
- AAdvantage member: 5 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent
- AAdvantage Gold: 7 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent
- AAdvantage Platinum: 8 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 9 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 11 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent
In addition to transferring points into the AAdvantage program and earning miles from paid flights, you can earn AAdvantage miles by shopping through the aadvantageeshopping.com portal.
By starting your online shopping in the portal and clicking through to the specific store you want to shop at, you can earn anywhere from 1–6 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent on applicable items.
Keep an eye out for promotions and save your large purchases for one of the higher multipliers. Boost your balance even more by paying with your co-branded credit card, as long as there aren’t any better multipliers from other cards.
Buy AAdvantage Miles
By far the fastest way of acquiring AAdvantage miles is to buy them outright. American Airlines allows you to purchase AAdvantage miles at a regular rate of 3.5 US cents per mile.
The airline tends to run promotions from time to time that offer discounts on AAdvantage miles if you purchase a certain amount. As always, it’s best to wait for one of the better promotions if you’re looking to pad your balance this way.
Other Ways to Earn AAdvantage Miles
In addition to the above, AAdvantage miles can also be earned through a variety of travel activities. These include, cruises, hotel stays, and car rentals. For example, you can earn up to 10,000 miles per night with American Airlines Hotels.
Just how many AAdvantage miles you can earn for staying at hotels and renting vehicles depends on the hotel you stay at and the car rental company you book through.
For hotels, you can earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every US dollar spent at Marriott and InterContinental Hotels, and 500 AAdvantage miles for each stay at eligible Hyatt properties.
For car rentals, booking with Avis and Budget will earn you 2 AAdvantage miles for every US dollar spent on a rental, with AAdvantage elite members being able to earn even more.
Lastly, you can join the AAdvantage Dining program and earn AAdvantage miles when you eat at select restaurants. Membership is free, and you can earn up to 5 AAdvantage miles per US dollar spent.
Redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
The best value to be found in the American Airlines’s AAdvantage program is by redeeming your miles for flights.
American Airlines has a region-based award chart for redeeming AAdvantage miles on American Airlines flights. In April 2023, it officially shifted to a dynamic pricing model, even though flights were already subject to dynamic pricing prior to it taking effect.
For flights with American Airlines, the award chart lists the minimum prices you can expect to find for award bookings in different classes of service to various parts of the world.
The prices listed in the chart should act as a guide for figuring out if you’re getting a good deal on flights or not.
For example, suppose you’d like to fly from Dallas to Rome, and you’re flexible with your departure date.
On one day, you find a direct business class flight for 89,000 miles, which is above the lower limit, but not by too much.
On another day that month, you might also find pricing on that same route at 145,000 miles…333,000 miles…
Or even as much as 400,000 miles…
Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting good value for your miles, and you can use the prices in the chart to determine if you’re getting a good deal on AA flights or if you’re better off considering other options.
In fact, you may even find pricing for a flight that is below the published lower limit on the chart. For example, long-haul flights to South America should start out at 90,000 miles, according to the above chart.
However, you may be pleasantly surprised to find awards at much lower than that, even as low as 55,000 miles.
All of the information relating to using AAdvantage miles for American Airlines flights can be found on the American Airlines website.
You can also redeem AAdvantage miles for flights with Oneworld partner airlines, which is arguably the best use of AAdvantage miles. Unlike AA flights, partner airlines aren’t subject to dynamic pricing, and the cost is predictable.
We’ll dive into the various sweet spots below, but here is the AAdvantage award chart for redemptions with partner airlines.
Keep in mind that there are some excellent Oneworld-member airlines that you can book with AAdvantage miles, including Qatar Airways Qsuites, Qatar Airways First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and Japan Airlines First Class, amongst others.
Other Ways to Redeem AAdvantage Miles
In general, it’s advisable to avoid this, as you’ll be getting suboptimal value out of your AAdvantage miles. You’re much better off saving your AAdvantage miles for flights.
There are more than 100 Admirals Club lounges and partner lounges, and American Airlines allows AAdvantage members the opportunity to use AAdvantage miles to purchase either day passes or annual memberships.
An annual membership will get you access to these lounges with up to two guests in tow.
A day pass costs 5,900 AAdvantage miles, while the price of an annual membership fluctuates depending on your AAdvantage status level. A new annual membership for an individual ranges from 55,000–65,000 AAdvantage miles.
You can also purchase these same day-passes and annual memberships with cash instead of using AAdvantage miles. It’s important to note that the AAdvantage miles required price out at 1 cent per mile (USD), which isn’t necessarily a great deal.
You can certainly get better value out of your AAdvantage miles if you save them for flights, so if you’d really like Admirals Club lounge access, you’re much better off spending cash.
You could also consider signing up for the US-issued Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which costs $450 (USD) per year, and comes with complimentary Admirals Club access, as well as many other perks.
American Airlines AAdvantage Sweet Spots
While there are many ways to redeem AAdvantage miles, the program has several sweet spots that you should be aware of.
Booking with Partner Airlines
While AAdvantage miles are great if you want to book American Airlines flights, arguably the best value lies in booking premium cabins with partner airlines.
Similar to the American Airlines award chart, the flight award chart for Oneworld and other partner airlines is region-based.
Traveling from Canada and contiguous 48 U.S. States, you can fly in business class on a one-way partner flight to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America for 27,500 AAdvantage miles, Europe for 57,500 AAdvantage miles, Japan or Korea for 60,000 AAdvantage miles, or Africa for 75,000 AAdvantage miles.
Using AAdvantage miles, you can unlock some of the cheapest First Class flights, as it only costs 80,000 AAdvantage miles to fly one-way between Canada or the U.S. and Japan or Korea.
The best part is that there tends to be very little additional fees that come with your booking. For example, a First Class flight from Tokyo to San Francisco on Japan Airlines costs 80,000 AAdvantage miles and only an additional ~$50 (USD) in taxes and fees.
Another great use of AAdvantage miles is by redeeming them for Qatar Airways QSuites, which is widely regarded as one of the best business class cabins in the world. One-way flights to the Middle East cost 70,000 AAdvantage miles in business class from North America.
If you happen to be flying out of the Middle East, you can get one-way First Class flights to anywhere in Asia for only 50,000 AAdvantage miles.
However, by far the best AAdvantage miles sweet spots lie in the fact that the region-based award chart allows you to continue onward for no additional miles as long as you remain in the same region.
So, if we look at flying from, say, Montreal to Doha on Qatar Airways Qsuites for 70,000 AAdvantage miles, we can continue onwards to elsewhere in the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent for no additional AAdvantage miles.
If you’re looking for an aspirational trip to the Maldives, then it’ll cost you just 70,000 AAdvantage miles per direction in business class, which is an absolute steal.
Furthermore, using AAdvantage miles to get to or from the African continent is also very advantageous. From North America, it’ll cost just 75,000 miles per direction in business class, including on Qatar Airways Qsuites.
American Airlines AAdvantage Tips & Tricks
If you’re looking to redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles, here are a few tips and tricks to help along the way.
Calendar Search Function
Even if you never fly with American Airlines or earn a single AAdvantage mile, you should know about American Airlines’s powerful search function.
This is because American Airlines allows you to search for award flights without having to create an account. What’s more, you can select calendar view, and search award space between two locations for an entire month at a time.
It’s really easy to use and navigate, and once you find the flight you’re looking for, you can then either book it with AAdvantage miles, or with your other Oneworld airline member’s loyalty program.
For example, if you’re looking for a flight from Montreal to Doha with Qatar Airways, simply enter your origin and destination, check “Redeem miles”, and choose any date throughout the year.
Once the search results appear, click on the calendar icon to pull up an entire month’s worth of availability.
On the calendar page, select “Nonstop only” and “Business/First” from the drop-down menus, and the calendar will then only show dates on which there are direct flights from Montreal to Doha in business class or First Class.
From here, you can either proceed to book through American Airlines, or through your preferred Oneworld partner airline.
You can also use your AAdvantage miles to upgrade your seat or for someone whom you’ve designated to the next cabin of service on eligible one-way American Airlines flights. The caveat here is that you can’t upgrade award tickets or basic economy fares.
So, in order to be able to use your AAdvantage miles to upgrade your American Airlines ticket, the original flight must have been booked with cash.
The amount of AAdvantage miles required can be found on the American Airlines website.
If you happen to book American Airlines flights with cash, there are some great upgrade options. If your original booking was a full-fare economy or premium economy ticket, it would only cost 8,000 AAdvantage miles for an upgrade to the next cabin (from economy to premium economy, or from premium economy to business class) on certain routes, including North America to Hawaii, Colombia, Ecuador, or Peru.
You can also use AAdvantage miles to upgrade seats on British Airways and Iberia flights for yourself or someone else whom you’ve designated, but once again award tickets aren’t eligible for upgrades.
Flying from North America, 25,000 AAdvantage miles are required to upgrade from full-fare economy to business class on one-way flights to Europe, and 40,000 AAdvantage miles are required to upgrade from full-fare economy to business class on one-way flights to Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, or to the Middle East via Europe.
If the reservation was booked through a source other than American Airlines, the route must include at least one flight with an American Airlines flight number in order to be eligible. These include codeshare flights operated by British Airways or Iberia, but booked as an American Airlines flight number.
American Airlines will hold an award seat on your behalf for up to five days. This gives you time to finalize your travel plans and transfer points into your account (need be) without having to worry about your seat disappearing.
With AAdvantage, you can put holds on American Airlines flights and flights with partner airlines. Note that the hold time may be restricted if you’re booking a special fare or with particular partner airlines.
The amount of time AAdvantage will hold your seat depends on how far in advance you’re booking:
- Booking 15–331 days prior to departure, you can hold a seat for up to five days
- Booking 1–14 days prior to departure, you can hold a seat for up to one day
- Booking within 24 hours of departure, you can hold a seat for up to two hours prior to departure
There is no cost to place a hold on an award seat, and the process is quite simple. Simply check “AAdvantage hold” during the checkout process, and then come back within the allotted time to complete your booking.
American Airlines AAdvantage Status
If you’re loyal to American Airlines, you can earn different status levels that will afford you benefits when flying with American Airlines and other Oneworld partners.
AAdvantage Status Tiers
In AAdvantage, there are four primary status levels: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum.
The different tiers are reached by earning Loyalty Points, which we’ll explore below.
Beyond those four status levels, American Airlines has higher statuses that are much harder to reach through their Million Miler program and Concierge Key.
Earning Loyalty Points is the only way to reach one of the four main AAdvantage elite statuses, and can be earned in one of three ways:
- Flying on eligible American Airline flights and crediting the flight to the AAdvantage program
- Flying on eligible partner flights and crediting the flight to the AAdvantage program
- Spending money with an AAdvantage co-branded credit card
You won’t earn eligible miles or Loyalty Points on award tickets, so the flights have to be cash bookings. Through these activities, you’ll earn AAdvantage miles, with one AAdvantage mile being equal to one Loyalty Point.
Being able to earn status through spending on co-branded credit cards is very interesting, as you can technically reach American Airlines AAdvantage’s top-tier Executive Platinum status without having to step foot inside an aircraft.
The following are the Loyalty Point requirements at each AAdvantage status level:
- AAdvantage Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points
Loyalty points earned between March 1st and the last day of February count towards status for that year and the following year, through to March 31st.
Benefits & Privileges with Status
As you might imagine, you’ll get access to a greater number of perks with higher status tiers. While the full list of benefits from the various statuses can be found on the American Airlines website, here are some of the highlights of the program
AAdvantage Executive Platinum members are eligible for complimentary upgrades on American Airlines award tickets. If you’re a Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum member, you’ll be eligible for upgrades on Alaska Airlines flights, too.
You can earn anywhere from 40–120% extra AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines and partner airline flights with your status, which will help unlock reward flights much sooner.
Earning elite status through the AAdvantage program will also automatically match you to elite status with Oneworld alliance, providing you with further benefits when you’re travelling around the world.
AAdvantage Gold matches to Oneworld Ruby, with which you’ll get priority check-in and one complimentary checked bag when flying with Oneworld partners in any class of service.
AAdvantage Platinum matches to Oneworld Sapphire status, with which you’ll also get access to Oneworld business class and frequent flyer lounges across the world.
AAdvantage Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum both match to Oneworld Emerald, which gets you similar perks as Oneworld Sapphire, but with even more priority for check-in and boarding, as well as access to First Class Oneworld lounges.
Million Miler Program
If you fly one million miles on an American Airlines or partner airline flight and credit it to AAdvantage, you’ll receive lifetime AAdvantage Gold status, as well as 35,000 AAdvantage miles.
If you fly two million miles, you’ll enjoy lifetime AAdvantage Platinum status, and you’ll get four one-way systemwide upgrades per year.
From here, for each additional million miles flown, you’ll get an additional four one-way systemwide upgrades per year.
Loyalty Choice Rewards
In addition to status levels, American Airlines also offers Loyalty Choice Rewards to members who earn a specific number of Loyalty Points.
There are five Loyalty Choice Rewards that can be reached after earning 125,000, 200,000, 350,000, 550,000, and 750,000 Loyalty Points.
In addition to earning Loyalty Points, you’re required to fly a minimum of 30 eligible flight segments. So, unlike earning status, you can’t simply spend your way to Loyalty Choice Rewards through one of the co-branded credit cards.
Once you reach those levels, you’ll have a choice from a variety of benefits, all of which can be found on the American Airlines website.
Some of the better choices include bonus AAdvantage miles, upgrades, an American Airlines $200 (USD) credit, and a gift of either AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status to someone else.
Concierge Key is an American Airlines status level that’s not advertised, and can only be earned by invitation. It is commonly believed that you need to spend at least $50,000 (USD) with the airline per year in order to even be considered for an invitation.
Concierge Key members will receive an Admirals Club membership, additional systemwide upgrades, a dedicated phone number, priority boarding, and priority upgrades above all other AAdvantage elite members, as well as other benefits and perks that aren’t published.
Concierge Key members can also receive World of Hyatt Globalist status, which is Hyatt’s highest status tier for their loyalty program.
American Airlines’s AAdvantage program is a fairly strong loyalty program that can unlock some amazing flying experiences, especially in premium seats with partner airlines, such as Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways.
It certainly isn’t as easy to earn AAdvantage miles as it is with other airlines, especially with the absence of any co-branded credit cards in Canada and a limited number of ways to earn on both sides of the border.
However, you can still rack up miles by transferring points from RBC Avion, by flying with either American Airlines or Oneworld partners on cash bookings, and through US-issued credit card spending.
Once you have miles, you’ll have plenty of options to redeem them for great value through the AAdvantage program.