Tips for Earning Frequent Flyer Miles on American Airlines

Taking AAdvantage

••• American Airlines at its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport hub. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Edited by Benet Wilson

American Airlines has become the latest carrier to change its frequent flyer program, switching AAdvantage from awarding miles based on miles flown to basing it on the price paid for a ticket.

Beginning on August 1, 2016, the following changes will apply: AAdvantage members will earn five miles for every dollar spent; for Gold members, it will be 7 miles for every dollar spent (with a 40 percent bonus); Platinum members get 8 miles (with a 60 percent bonus); and Executive Platinum members get 11 miles (with a 120 percent bonus).

And effective January 1, 2017, the AAdvantage program will add a fourth elite level for customers -- Platinum Pro, which falls between Platinum and Executive Platinum.

It's been 35 years since American Airlines became the first carrier to introduce a frequent flyer program, and they have some tips for earning and redeeming miles for travel. Here are some tips that may be helpful for making the most of your AAdvantage miles. 

1. Book online at - earn AAdvantage miles each time you do.

2. Sign up for promotions - some promotions have bonus miles offered just for signing up, making a purchase, or at times you may be eligible for double or triple the usual miles for flying a certain route.

3. Get a credit card to earn miles - if you get one of the Citi/AAdvantage cards, you can earn up to 15,000 bonus miles after your first purchase is made with the card.

4. Stay at a hotel - American Airlines has 35 worldwide hotel partners representing nearly 75 hotel brands.

And the miles add up quite quickly -- five miles for every dollar spent at more than 10,000 hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

5. Rent a car - AAdvantage miles can be earned with eight major car rental agencies so you can drive and earn.

6. Dine Out - you can earn up to 10 miles for every dollar spent while dining out.

More than 10,000 restaurants across the United States and Canada participate, and give you miles to eat.

7. Take a vacation - AAdvantage members earn 1,000 AAdvantage bonus miles when booking via American Airlines Vacations.

8. Financing - partnerships with financial services, such as banks, financial service firms, real estate companies, and home financing services, mean several ways to earn miles. Members can earn miles for banking, investing, or selling a home.

9. Go shopping - you can earn miles at more than 90 brand-name retailers.

10. Donate - Earn miles for making donations to nonprofit organizations through the American Airlines Giving.

American Airlines' Top 10 ways to use the miles you've earned

1. Vacation Planning - members can use as few as 500 miles towards paying for vacations planned with, including hotel, car rentals and local activities.

2. Off-peak travel awards - you can use less miles if you are willing to travel at less popular times which vary by destination.

3. Short-Hop awards - these are not always available and pop up more as a promotion which allow members to claim awards on trips of 750 miles or less at reduced mileage levels.

4. Gift of Travel - you can use your miles to give travel opportunities to family members, friends or even donate miles to various charities.

5. Admirals Clubs - use you miles to use the lounge. AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for annual Admirals Club memberships and really relax before your flights.

6. Hotels - starting at 500 AAdvantage miles, members can book vacation packages which include hotel stays, airport transfers and other features through AmericanAirlines Vacations.

7. Magazines - you can redeem miles for some of your favorite magazines. Subscriptions start at 400 miles and can be setup online through Magazines for Miles.

8. College Savings - American Airlines has teamed up with Upromise, to save for college. AAdvantage members can now redeem frequent flyer miles for college savings and deposit them into their Upromise account.

9. Shopping - allows AAdvantage members to exchange miles for shopping gift certificates at lots of well known retailers and restaurants.

10. Donate - you can donate your miles to various charities such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation. When you make a donation to one of American’s partner organizations, you will earn extra AAdvantage miles.