Airline travel rewards programs provide loyal customers with plenty of opportunities to earn rewards and benefits as they fly. Benefits may include bonus points or miles, plus elite status tiers that can enhance your travel experience.
Many travelers opt for one of the best travel credit cards or one of the best airline credit cards to further boost their travel rewards. If you compare credit cards between different airlines, it’s easy to see the value in the cards provided by American Airlines. These co-branded cards come with huge earning potential that can help you fly for free using AAdvantage miles.
In this American Airlines AAdvantage guide, we’ll discuss what the AAdvantage program is, the different elite status tiers, how to earn and redeem AAdvantage miles, and the best credit cards for American Airlines travelers. This will help you learn how to navigate the AAdvantage program and push your travels to the next level.
Here’s how the AAdvantage program works.
What is the AAdvantage program?
AAdvantage is the airline loyalty, or frequent-flyer, program for American Airlines. The program was started in 1981 and is considered the first airline loyalty program ever created, though the first American Airlines flight was flown nearly 100 years ago in 1926.
Today, the American Airlines AAdvantage program is free to join and rewards its members as they take American Airlines or partner flights. You earn American Airlines miles within the AAdvantage program, which can be redeemed for award flights, seat upgrades, hotel stays, and much more.
If you fly often enough with American Airlines or its partners, you can achieve certain elite status tiers and the benefits that come with them. These benefits can completely upgrade your American Airlines flying experience, but they aren’t easily attainable by the infrequent traveler.
In general, the more you fly with American Airlines, the better rewards and benefits you can receive through the AAdvantage program.
What are the AAdvantage elite status tiers?
AAdvantage members can achieve elite status by meeting certain qualifications during a calendar year. Once you achieve a status, you’ll immediately receive all the associated benefits, which may include free checked bags. Earning elite status is one of the best ways to avoid American Airlines baggage fees.
|Tier name||Elite status qualifications||Benefits|
|AAdvantage Platinum Pro||
|AAdvantage Executive Platinum||
Note: Loyalty Points are typically earned as you earn eligible AAdvantage miles. One eligible AAdvantage mile equals one Loyalty Point. You could earn eligible AAdvantage miles for flying, making purchases with AAdvantage co-branded credit cards, and earning miles with AAdvantage partners.
AAdvantage Gold is the lowest status within the AAdvantage tiers, though it still has many valuable benefits. To achieve this tier, you’ll have to earn at least 30,000 Loyalty Points.
AAdvantage Gold benefits include:
- One free checked bag: Receive one checked bag for free with AAdvantage Gold.
- Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats at check-in: Access Main Cabin Extra seating, if available, for you and up to eight passengers traveling on the same reservation. This could include early boarding, extra legroom, a free carry-on, complimentary snacks and drinks, and free in-flight entertainment.
- Complimentary auto-requested upgrades on American flights: Gold members receive complimentary upgrades from the Main Cabin to the next class of service on flights marketed and operated by American on eligible itineraries.
- 24-hour upgrade window: Any requested upgrades will be confirmed as early as 24 hours prior to departure.
- 40% status mileage bonus: Receive a 40% bonus to the standard rate on miles earned for purchased flights.
- Priority check-in, security, and boarding: Gold members can use business lanes to check in or first-class check-in if there are no business lanes. Also, select airports have exclusive security screening lanes for Gold members. For boarding, Gold members board in Group 4.
- Complimentary same-day standby: If you’d like to fly standby for a different flight on the same day of travel between select locations, there’s no charge.
- Discounted Admirals Club membership: Receive a special discount on an Admirals Club membership for you or your household.
- Exclusive service desk: Access the personalized AAdvantage Gold service desk for assistance with reservations, upgrades, award claims, account inquiries, and customer service.
- Exclusive partner offers and special discounts: Access elite status offers and discounts from AAdvantage participant companies. This may include discounts on hotel stays and car rentals.
- Oneworld Ruby: Receive oneworld Ruby status and benefits, including oneworld priority check-in and standby, as well as oneworld preferred or pre-reserved seating.
The next level in the AAdvantage elite statuses, AAdvantage Platinum has better benefits than Gold, but higher requirements as well. You’ll need to earn at least 75,000 Loyalty Points to qualify.
AAdvantage Platinum benefits include all Gold benefits, with a few differences:
- Two free checked bags: Receive two free checked bags instead of one.
- Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred seats: In addition to Main Cabin Extra seating, Platinum members can also receive Preferred seat upgrades for free.
- 48-hour upgrade window: The upgrade confirmation window is doubled to 48 hours for Platinum members.
- 60% status mileage bonus: Receive a 60% mileage bonus on flights.
- Priority check-in, security, and boarding: Platinum members can always use first-class lanes for check-in and will board the plane in Group 3.
- Priority bag delivery: Checked bags are tagged as priority and are delivered quicker to the baggage claim area on American flights.
- Oneworld Sapphire: Receive oneworld Sapphire status and benefits, including all oneworld Ruby benefits. Also receive oneworld priority boarding and security benefits and access to oneworld business class and frequent flyer lounges.
AAdvantage Platinum Pro
To earn AAdvantage Platinum Pro status and its coveted benefits, you’ll have to more than quadruple the amount of effort needed for Gold status. Platinum Pro requires 125,000 Loyalty Points.
AAdvantage Platinum Pro benefits include all Platinum benefits, with a few differences:
- Three free checked bags: Receive a total of three free checked bags.
- 72-hour upgrade window: The upgrade confirmation window is increased to 72 hours for Platinum Pro members.
- 80% status mileage bonus: Receive an 80% mileage bonus on flights.
- Complimentary same-day flight change: Same-day flight changes are free as a Platinum Pro member.
- Oneworld Emerald: Receive oneworld Emerald status and benefits, including all oneworld Sapphire benefits. Also receive access to oneworld first class lounges.
AAdvantage Executive Platinum
The AAdvantage Executive Platinum status is the highest tier you can reach in the AAdvantage program. To attain this level, be prepared to get in some serious flying and spending, as Executive Platinum requires 200,000 Loyalty Points.
AAdvantage Executive Platinum benefits include all Platinum Pro benefits, with a few extra perks:
- Complimentary upgrades on award tickets: Award bookings will also include complimentary upgrades for Executive Platinum members.
- 100-hour upgrade window: The upgrade confirmation window is increased to 100 hours.
- 120% elite mileage bonus: Receive a 120% mileage bonus on flights.
- Expanded award seat availability on American Airlines flights: Executive Platinum members and one companion can access additional award seating on American Airlines flights.
- Complimentary snack and beverage in the Main Cabin: Receive a complimentary alcoholic beverage and one snack when traveling in the Main Cabin on American Airlines flights.
- Guaranteed availability in the Main Cabin: Executive Platinum members and one companion can book full-fare tickets in the Main Cabin on sold-out American Airlines flights and have availability.
- Waitlist priority for purchased first or business class: Executive Members are placed on the top of the waitlist if they’re unable to confirm a first- or business-class seat on American Airlines flights.
How to earn AAdvantage miles
The best ways to earn AAdvantage miles are by flying, using certain credit cards, and taking advantage of deals from American Airlines partners.
The more you fly, the more miles you’ll earn. As you purchase and take American Airlines flights, you’ll earn miles for each flight. Just be aware that award flights don’t typically earn any miles. Also, keep in mind that flights with partner airlines can also earn you miles. So don’t think you’re limited to flying on only American Airlines flights to earn AAdvantage miles.
Loyalty Points can be earned from flying on qualifying airlines, including American, other oneworld airlines, and eligible partner airlines. Airline partners include the entire oneworld alliance and other select airlines.
Oneworld alliance airlines:
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Other partner airlines:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Cape Air
- China Southern Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Fiji Airways
- GOL Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Silver Airways
Credit cards are an easy way to earn miles all the time, no matter whether you’re traveling. With certain credit cards, you’ll earn extra points when you purchase American Airlines flights, whereas other cards may offer bonus points on everyday purchases.
In addition, many co-branded American Airlines credit cards offer big sign-up bonuses for new cardmembers. This can really boost your earning potential and net you thousands of miles without even taking a flight.
Loyalty Points can be earned with certain credit cards at the rate at which they earn base AAdvantage miles without any bonus miles or accelerators.
American Airlines partners with loads of other companies to provide its customers with plenty of opportunities to continue earning American Airlines miles. The number of miles you can earn with each partner will vary, but this could be a great way to earn miles on things you were already planning on doing.
Loyalty Points can be earned from AAdvantage partners at the rate at which you would earn base AAdvantage miles from the partner.
AAdvantage partners include:
- World of Hyatt
- Marriott Bonvoy
- IHG Rewards
- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Car rental agencies:
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Celebrity Cruises
- Costa Cruises
- Cunard Line
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- MSC Cruises
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
- Virgin Voyages
- Miles From Home
- Reliant Energy
Consider these credit cards for earning AAdvantage miles
To help you earn the most AAdvantage miles, you’ll likely need a good credit card to back you up. Here are some of the best credit cards for earning AAdvantage miles:
|Sign-up bonus||Rewards rate||Annual fee|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®||Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1X miles on all other purchases||$99 (waived first year)|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening (limited time offer)||10X miles on hotels booked through aa.com/hotels and eligible car rentals booked through aa.com/cars, 4X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases (after spending $150,000 per calendar year this increases to 5X for the remainder of the calendar year), and 1X miles for every $1 spent on other purchases||$595|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®||Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening||Earn 2X miles per dollar on all eligible American Airlines purchases and on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations; plus 1X miles on other purchases||$99 (waived first year)|
|American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®||Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||2X AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent at grocery stores (including grocery delivery services) and on eligible American Airlines purchases; plus 1X miles per dollar on everything else||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and eligible online grocery purchases; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases||$95|
The majority of these cards are co-branded American Airlines cards, which means they solely earn AAdvantage miles when you use them on purchases. However, there is one Chase credit card included that isn’t co-branded with American Airlines. It doesn’t necessarily earn AAdvantage miles, but its rewards can still be used to book American Airlines flights.
Here are the highlights of each card:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn a generous 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months. The first checked bag is free for you and up to four travel companions on domestic American Airlines flights. You also receive preferred boarding and 25% off in-flight food and beverages when purchased with this card.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn a generous 70,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $7,000 in the first 3 months. Also, receive a complimentary Admirals Club membership and a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement. At the airport, receive priority boarding, priority check-in, priority airport screening, and a free checked bag. In-flight food and beverages cost 25% less when you use this card.
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn a generous 65000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months. Cardholders receive a free checked bag, preferred boarding on American Airlines flights, and 25% savings on in-flight Wi-Fi, food, and beverage purchases when you use this card. You can also earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate after $30,000 in purchases each account year.
- American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®: Earn a generous 10,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months. Also, save 25% on in-flight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines flights with this card. This card has a $0 annual fee.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn a generous 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed in the Chase travel portal for flights, including with American Airlines. Also, cardmembers receive complimentary travel insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty benefits.
How to redeem your AAdvantage miles
The AAdvantage program provides a variety of redemption options for your miles. Often, though, the best redemption for your miles will be on award bookings with American Airlines or American Airlines partner airlines. These redemptions typically provide the most value for your miles.
However, you can also choose these redemption options:
- Hotel stays: Use your miles to book hotel stays.
- Car rentals: Use your miles to book car rentals.
- Vacations: Use your miles to book vacations, which may include flights, hotel stays, and/or car rentals.
- Admirals Club: Use your miles to buy or renew an Admirals Club membership.
- Five Star Service: Use your miles to access luxury experiences while you travel with helicopter services like PS, BLADE, and more.
- Products: Use your miles to buy products, like newspaper subscriptions.
- Charities: Donate your miles to charities like Make-A-Wish Foundation, American Red Cross, Feeding America, and more.
Here are the steps to take if you want to redeem your miles:
- Visit aa.com and log in with your username and password or AAdvantage number and find the “Redeem miles” option under the “AAdvantage” dropdown menu.
- Choose from the many redemption options.
- If you want to redeem your miles for an award flight, you can do it straight from the American Airlines homepage. Be sure to select the “Redeem miles” option when creating your booking.
FAQs about the AAdvantage program
How much are AAdvantage program miles worth?
AAdvantage program miles are typically worth about 1.4 cents per mile. So if you have 10,000 AAdvantage miles, they’d be worth $140. This valuation can change depending on the cash price of what you’re redeeming your miles for. Often, award flights will offer the most value for your miles.
How much does it cost to join the AAdvantage program?
The AAdvantage program is free to join, so it’s easy to get started and begin earning miles immediately when you book American Airlines flights.
What can AAdvantage miles be used for?
AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for a variety of things. Here’s a full list of AAdvantage miles redemption options:
- Award flights
- Seat upgrades
- Hotel stays
- Car rentals
- Admirals Club membership
- Luxury experiences
- Newspaper subscriptions
- Charitable donations
How many AAdvantage miles do you need for a free flight?
You need at least 7,500 AAdvantage miles for a free award flight on American Airlines. This would be for a flight within the U.S. (not including Alaska and Hawaii) that’s less than 500 miles. For a complete listing of award flight redemptions and the miles you need, check out the different American Airlines award charts.
Is it worth it to buy miles on American?
It’s typically not worth it to buy miles on American Airlines because the value isn’t good enough for what you’re paying. However, with certain promotions and bonuses, it could be worth it, especially if you really need some miles for a specific redemption. Be sure to calculate how many miles you can get for your money when deciding whether it’s worth it.
The bottom line on the AAdvantage program
For frequent travelers, it can make a lot of sense to stick with one airline loyalty program and reap the sweet rewards and benefits that come with it. Spreading out your business between different airlines would make it really tough to earn any elite status, which is why it’s better to focus on one at a time.
With AAdvantage, the benefits may be well worth the effort you put in to achieve them. Free checked bags, priority boarding, complimentary upgrades, and so much more can really change the way you experience your travels. Remember, there are different ways to earn AAdvantage miles, but using credit cards is a tried-and-true method of increasing your overall earning potential.
Free checked bags & more
FinanceBuzz writers and editors score cards based on a number of objective features as well as our expert editorial assessment. Our partners do not influence how we rate products.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
$99 (waived first year)
2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on eligible American Airlines purchases; and 1X miles on all other purchases