How to Redeem, Transfer & Earn American Airline Miles

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American Airlines, one of the world’s largest airlines, offers its AAdvantage program to reward loyal customers. With this program, you earn miles that can be redeemed for flights, seat upgrades, car rentals, hotel stays, and more. The American Airlines miles, also known as AAdvantage miles, are essentially a form of currency that can be collected and used towards various travel rewards. This article will guide you on how to redeem, transfer, and earn American Airlines miles, helping you take full advantage of the AAdvantage program.

Understanding the Basics of American Airlines Miles

American Airlines miles are earned through the AAdvantage program. Each time you book a flight with American Airlines or its partner airlines, or when you utilize services of their various travel and retail partners, you earn miles. These miles can be redeemed for a range of rewards, mainly focusing on travel-related services.

The Value of American Airlines Miles

The conversion rate or value of American Airlines miles varies based on how you choose to redeem them. On average, American Airlines miles are worth about 1.4 cents each. However, the exact value can fluctuate depending on the specific redemption option, with some options giving you a greater value per mile than others. In comparison to other airlines’ reward programs, American Airlines is relatively competitive, often providing a higher value on certain redemption options.

How to Redeem American Airlines Miles

Redeeming American Airlines miles can be done in multiple ways. The most common method is to use them for flights with American Airlines or its partner airlines.

Redeem Miles on American-operated flights

The most basic way to redeem your miles is to use them to book flights on American Airlines. To do this, simply visit the American Airlines website or app and look for the option to book flights using miles. The booking process is almost identical to purchasing a regular ticket, except you will use your miles instead of money.

AA recently became the final major U.S. carrier to drop its fixed award charts and has since moved to dynamic pricing. This means that flights booked with miles are more closely aligned with the cash price. AA used to have Web Specials and Saver Awards, where you could find killer deals on redemptions. These have been replaced with ‘Flight Awards’, which is the only type of award flight you can get.

The American Airlines award chart can provide more detailed information on the number of miles needed for specific routes and award types. Notice that the fares are “starting at”. They can be as low as these if you can find the right deal.

Region:Main Cabin starting at:Premium Economy starting at:Business / First starting at:
Contiguous 48 U.S. states + Canada7,50015,000
Mexico + Caribbean + Central America10,00020,000
South America – Short Haul15,00030,000
Hawaii + Alaska20,00040,00060,000
South America – Long Haul30,00060,00090,000
Asia + Middle East + South Pacific35,00060,00095,000

Redeem American Airlines miles on Partners

American Airlines is part of the Oneworld alliance and also partners with several other airlines outside of the alliance. This means that you can earn and redeem miles on a variety of airlines, which includes:

  • Oneworld alliance partners: Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.
  • Non-alliance partners: Air Tahiti Nui, Cape Air, China Southern Airlines, Etihad Airways, Gol Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, IndiGo, JetBlue, and Silver Airways.

Redeeming American Airlines miles on partner airlines can offer great value, often allowing you to fly on routes where American Airlines itself does not operate. To book a partner airline flight with American Airlines miles, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the American Airlines website and sign in to your AAdvantage account.
  2. In the search flights section, fill in your destination, dates, and choose “Redeem miles”.
  3. The search results will display a range of flights, including those operated by partner airlines. Choose the one that suits you best and follow the prompts to complete your booking.

High-value redemptions are often found in business or first-class bookings on long-haul flights, especially on premium airlines such as Qatar Airways or Japan Airlines. For example, a first-class ticket from the US to Asia on Japan Airlines might cost thousands of dollars if purchased, but could be acquired for a relatively reasonable amount of miles. This gives you a great value per mile, especially considering the high level of comfort and service provided on these flights.

Redeem for Upgrades on American Airlines Flights

One excellent way to use your American Airlines miles is to upgrade your seat class on eligible flights. The process is quite straightforward:

  1. Log into your AAdvantage account on the American Airlines website.
  2. Go to “Manage Flights” and click on a trip that you previously booked.
  3. Go to “Change Seats,” and you can see the seat inventory that’s available with the corresponding point or dollar value.

You can also call AA customer service and then can assist with upgrades. There are only a limited amount of award upgrades available on every flight, so your mileage may vary.

American Airlines offers three primary types of upgrades: Mileage Upgrade Awards, Systemwide Upgrades, and 500-mile upgrades. Mileage Upgrade Awards are available on most flights for a set number of miles and an additional copay, depending on the flight. Systemwide Upgrades are given to Executive Platinum members and can be used to upgrade any American Airlines flight. 500-mile upgrades are available to certain AAdvantage elite status members on flights over 500 miles.

Good value upgrades usually occur on long-haul flights, where the difference between economy and business or first-class is substantial. Upgrading from premium economy to business class, or from business class to first class, can significantly enhance your travel experience, especially on long flights. For detailed information on the cost and requirements of each upgrade, visit the American Airlines upgrade chart.

Redeem for Other Travel Rewards

American Airlines miles can also be used to book hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and even cruises. You can redeem these rewards directly from the American Airlines website or app. While the value of your miles for these rewards may not be as high as when redeemed for flights, they provide excellent flexibility and can still offer great value in certain situations.

For instance, redeeming miles for luxury hotels, all-inclusive vacation packages, or last-minute car rentals can help you save a significant amount of money.

Redeem for Non-Travel Rewards

Finally, you can also use your American Airlines miles to shop for a wide range of non-travel rewards. This includes gift cards, merchandise, magazines, and even charitable donations. These can be redeemed directly on the American Airlines website or app.

While the value of miles for these rewards might not be as high as some travel rewards, they offer a great way to use your miles if you don’t have any travel plans in the near future. Redeeming for popular gift cards, high-quality merchandise, or donating to a cause you care about can be a good use of your miles.

For a detailed list of available options and the number of miles needed, visit the American Airlines shopping rewards page.

How to Transfer American Airlines Miles

Transferring American Airlines miles between accounts is possible, but it’s important to note that this method usually doesn’t offer the best value due to associated fees. American Airlines charges $15 for every 1,000 miles you transfer, plus a $15 processing fee per transaction. So, transferring 5,000 miles will cost you $75. Not ideal. Therefore, transferring miles should be considered only when there’s a significant benefit. Always do the math to ensure the cost of transferring miles doesn’t outweigh the benefit gained.

Transfer Miles to Someone Else’s Account

If you need to transfer miles to someone else’s AAdvantage account, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the American Airlines transfer miles page
  2. Fill in your AAdvantage number and password
  3. Enter the recipient’s AAdvantage number and the number of miles you wish to transfer.
  4. Pay the applicable fees and complete the transaction.

You can transfer a maximum of 200,000 miles per year, and transferred miles usually post to the recipient’s account immediately but may take up to 8 hours for processing. Transferring miles can make sense in scenarios like gifting miles, pooling miles for a specific redemption, or helping someone book an award flight.

Buy American Airlines Miles

American Airlines also allows you to buy miles, often at a discount. This can be a great way to top up your account if you’re close to a specific redemption. You can save up to 35% off when you buy miles. However, you must buy a minimum of 2,000 miles in a single transaction, and you can’t buy more than 150,000 miles in a calendar year. Buying miles can make sense if the cost of the miles plus the purchase price is less than the cost of the flight you’re aiming to book with miles.

Gift American Airlines Miles

Gifting miles is another way to transfer American Airlines miles. This process is similar to buying miles, and you can also save up to 35% off when you gift miles. The same minimum and maximum limits apply, and gifting miles can be a great idea for friends or family members who love to travel. It could help them get closer to their next award flight or allow them to enjoy an upgrade.

Donate American Airlines Miles

Lastly, American Airlines allows you to donate miles to various causes and organizations. Donating miles can be a great way to use miles that are about to expire or to contribute to a cause you care about. The airline’s donation program focuses on four categories: Miles for Social Good, Miles for Global Health and Well-Being, Miles for Heroes, and Miles for Our Planet. Visit American Airlines’ donation page to see the full list of partner organizations and to donate your miles.

How to Earn American Airlines Miles

Earning American Airlines miles can be as simple as taking a flight, shopping online, dining out, or using a credit card. Understanding the different ways you can earn miles will help you maximize your earnings and reach your travel goals faster. Let’s dive into how to earn those coveted American Airlines miles.

Earn Miles from Credit Cards

Earning miles through credit cards is one of the quickest ways to accumulate American Airlines miles. American Airlines offers several co-branded credit cards with financial partners, each with unique benefits and earning structures. These cards offer sign-up bonuses, spend category bonuses, and other perks like free checked bags or priority boarding.

Here are the best credit card for American Airlines miles:

For more flexibility, you can also consider credit cards that earn transferable points. The Bilt Rewards Mastercard allow you to transfer points directly to your AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio.

It’s best to choose a card that aligns with your spending habits and travel goals. You can review and apply for these credit cards on American Airlines’ official website or on card issuers’ websites.

Earn Miles from Flying on American Airlines or Partner Airlines

Every time you fly with American Airlines or its partners and add your AAdvantage number to your reservation, you earn miles. The number of miles you earn depends on various factors such as the fare class, the distance flown, and your elite status in the AAdvantage program.

Long-haul flights in premium cabins tend to earn the most miles. Also, flying with certain partner airlines can offer high earning rates. You can find more information about earning rates on different flights on the American Airlines earning chart.

Transferring Bilt Points

American Airlines also partners with Bilt Rewards, a program that allows you to earn points by paying rent. This unique partnership allows you to transfer Bilt points to your AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re already earning Bilt points, this can be a great way to boost your AAdvantage miles balance.

Earn Miles from Shopping and Dining

Lastly, you can earn miles through everyday spending on shopping and dining. American Airlines offers the AAdvantage eShopping portal and the AAdvantage Dining program for this purpose. By shopping online through the eShopping portal or dining at participating restaurants, you can earn additional miles on purchases you’d make anyway.

Be on the lookout for special bonus offers and deals through these programs to maximize your earning potential. Visit the AAdvantage eShopping portal and AAdvantage Dining program websites to learn more and to start earning miles today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is an American Airlines mile worth?

The value of American Airlines miles isn’t fixed and can vary depending on how they’re redeemed. However, as a general benchmark, travel experts typically value AAdvantage miles at around 1.4 to 1.7 cents each. This value can be higher or lower depending on factors like flight class, route, and how far in advance you book.

What’s the best way to use American Airlines miles?

The best value for your American Airlines miles generally comes from redeeming them for award flights, particularly on long-haul, international, or first and business-class flights. Redeeming miles on partner airlines in the Oneworld alliance or other partners like Etihad can also provide high value. However, the “best” use will depend on your individual travel preferences and needs.

How much does it cost to transfer American Airlines miles?

American Airlines charges $15 for every 1,000 miles you transfer, plus a $15 processing fee per transaction. So, transferring 5,000 miles will cost you $75.

What points and miles transfer to American Airlines?

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to AA at a 3:1 ratio and Bilt Rewards at 1:1.

How do you transfer miles to American Airlines?

Transferring miles to American Airlines from a partner program typically involves logging into your account with the partner program (like Marriott Bonvoy or Bilt Rewards), selecting the option to transfer points to a partner, and choosing American Airlines as the transfer partner. The transfer ratio and time it takes for points to transfer can vary between programs.

Is it a good idea to buy American Airlines miles?

Whether it’s a good idea to buy American Airlines miles depends on your specific circumstances. In general, buying miles is not usually the most cost-effective way to accumulate them. However, there may be times when buying miles makes sense, such as when you’re just a few miles short of a high-value award or during a promotional period when American Airlines is offering bonus miles or a discount on purchased miles. Always do the math to ensure you’re getting good value for your money.

Bottom Line

In essence, making the most of the American Airlines AAdvantage program is all about smart earning, thoughtful transferring, and strategic redeeming of your miles. Miles can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, and more, offering various travel rewards. Although transferring miles involves fees, there can be times when it’s beneficial, such as pooling miles for an award flight.

Earn miles through American Airlines flights, partner airlines, co-branded credit cards, and other methods like shopping and dining. Always stay informed about promotions and program changes to maximize your mile value.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli, an avid travel enthusiast and founder of Modern Miles, has mastered the art of earning and redeeming millions of points and miles annually. Accompanied by his wife and two children, he explores the world's wonders, inspiring others with his expertise and unquenchable thirst for adventure.

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