How to Get the Most from Your Miles with American Airlines Partners

This robust guide walks you through how to earn and use your AAdvantage frequent-flyer miles to travel the world for (nearly) free.
Last updated Dec 10, 2019 | By Robin Kavanagh
Get the Most from Your Miles with American Airlines Partners

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Like many of its competitors, American Airlines has evolved its customer loyalty program over the years to provide more value to those who fly with it. The relationships the airline has built enables AAdvantage miles program members to earn miles whenever they fly American — or when they fly with any of its 21 partner airlines; shop with over 1,000 travel and retail partners; or use several different co-branded credit cards.

You can make the most of the AAdvantage program by knowing all the different ways you can earn miles, even when you’re not traveling with American, and how to strategically spend them with partners. This article will give you everything you need to know to do just that.

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The basics of the American Airlines AAdvantage miles program

AAdvantage is American Airlines’ frequent flyer/customer loyalty program. It rewards you for spending money with the carrier or its partners, as well as using a co-branded credit card. The miles you accumulate can be used for free fares, upgrades, discounts, product purchases, membership to the Admirals Club lounge, car rentals, hotel stays, vacation packages, and more.

How to earn miles

The AAdvantage program is pretty straightforward in that you have multiple options for earning and spending miles. The main ways to earn are:

  1. Booking flights with American Airlines, American Eagle, or one of their partner airlines
  2. Booking with partner hotels, car rental services, or vacation/cruise packages.
  3. Making purchases through the AAdvantage eShopping mall, which has 950 big-brand stores.
  4. Enrolling in AAdvantage Dining, then eating out at your favorite restaurants
  5. Using a co-branded AAdvantage credit card for airline and everyday purchases

The logistics of how much you earn and how to redeem your miles can be a little overwhelming to navigate, especially since American Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance and also has an additional list of airline, travel, and retail partners. When you have 21 carriers and hundreds of stores that you can earn and use miles with, things can get confusing.

Adding to this is a complicated schedule of how many miles you earn with partners versus American Airlines (which varies from carrier to carrier) and a higher rate of earning for very frequent flyers who have earned Elite status.

For example, every AAdvantage member earns five miles for every U.S. dollar spent on an eligible American Airlines flight. Gold members earn seven miles per dollar, and Platinum members earn eight miles per dollar. However, a flight with Japan Airlines will earn a mileage credit based on a percentage of distance flown — anywhere from 30% to 100%, depending on the class of ticket you purchase and where you’re flying from and to.

Don’t worry if you’re already feeling bewildered. We’ll cover earning miles more in-depth later in this article and make it much simpler to understand.

How to redeem miles for flights

You can redeem miles for flights through the American Airlines website or by calling customer service. AAdvantage has three types of “awards” — or fares — you can trade miles for when you’re ready to redeem:

  • MileSAAver awards: These have some of the most inexpensive fare options — some as low as 7,500 miles each way, plus taxes and carrier-imposed fees. You have to be willing to be flexible with your travel dates to get a great rate, though, and there may be limited availability for these fares, especially with partner airlines.
  • AAnytime awards: You can use your miles on these fares at any time and for any seat on American Airlines or American Eagle flights. They do run much higher than MileSAAver fares, starting at 20,000 miles each way, plus taxes and fees. Some travel dates will cost you more in miles.
  • Economy Web Special awards: These are special fares available exclusively on AA.com and can cost you fewer miles than MileSAAver or AAnytime fares. You can’t make changes to your itinerary once you book one of these fares, but you’ll be able to cancel and have your miles refunded, though fees may apply.

Here are the details and restrictions you need to know about when it comes to how these three types of awards relate to the three different classes of travel you can book:

Economy web special
  • Limited-time offer
  • Valid for travel in the Main Cabin
  • Cannot be changed once ticketed
Economy MileSAAver
  • Valid for travel in Economy Class
  • Subject to capacity controls
  • May be subject to travel embargo dates
Economy AAnytime
  • Valid for travel in Economy Class
  • Valid for any available economy seat provided the flight is not sold out
  • No travel embargo dates
Business/First MileSAAver
  • Valid for travel in Business Class when Business Class cabin exists
  • If a Business Class cabin does not exist, this award is valid for travel in First Class
  • Subject to capacity controls
  • May be subject to travel embargo dates
Business/First AAnytime
  • Valid for travel in Business Class where a Business Class cabin exists for any available Business Class seat provided the flight is not sold out
  • If a Business Class cabin does not exist, this award is valid for travel in First Class for any available First Class seat provided the flight is not sold out
  • No travel embargo dates
First MileSAAver
  • Valid for travel in First Class
  • Subject to capacity controls
  • May be subject to travel embargo dates

If you’re lost, don’t worry. This article is aimed at helping you simplify all of this so you can make the most out of the AAdvantage program and earn lots of miles for upgrades and free travel.

American Airlines partner airlines

American Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance, which is a global network of airlines that offers flights to more than 1,000 destinations in over 160 countries. One of the big benefits of this network is that flying on any of the member airlines earns you AAdvantage miles. And when you’re ready to cash in some of those miles, they can be applied to flights with any carrier in the network.

OneWorld’s current partners as of September 2019 are:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Latam Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

AAdvantage also has partnerships with airlines outside of Oneworld, and you can earn and spend miles through each of them.

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air
  • Cape Air
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Interjet
  • Seaborne Airlines

How to earn miles with partners

There are two ways you can ensure you’re earning miles when you fly any of these partner airlines:

  • First is to book directly through American Airlines. You can input your place of departure and destination, and the online booking tool will identify available flights with partner airlines as options for your trip. Once you sign into AAdvantage on the American Airlines booking site, your customer number will be applied, and you’ll be credited with the miles after the flight is over. You can also do this when booking with a customer service representative over the phone.
  • The second way is to book through one of the partner airlines, either by phone or website. Most partners have a place to input a customer loyalty program number, and if they participate in several programs, there may be a drop-down to choose from. Choose American Airlines AAdvantage and enter your customer number to get credit for the miles. If you book your flight over the phone, be sure to tell the customer service representative that you’re an AAdvantage member.

american airlines partners
As of Sep. 11, 2019

What you need to know before redeeming with American’s partner airlines

1. Book through American Airlines, even if you’re flying with a partner

To use your AAdvantage miles for a flight with a partner airline, you don’t have to go through any transfer process or deal with a bunch of red tape. You simply book your flight directly through American Airlines.

The easiest way is to book through its website or app. There will be a bunch of options for you to choose from, but the most important is the “Redeem miles” checkbox. Make sure you click on that so the results will give you prices in miles and not dollars.

american airlines partners

You can also call American Airlines customer service and speak with a representative who will walk you through each step of the booking-with-miles process. However, this comes with a fee of $25 for domestic and $35 for international flights.

2. Get an estimate of how many miles you’ll need

The American Airlines website has an award chart that will give you a starting point for estimating how many miles you may need for your trip with a partner airline. These charts don’t differentiate between MileSAAver, AAnytime, and Economy Web Special awards. The chart is just designed to give you a ballpark of what to expect.

Choose the place or region you’ll be flying from. This will open a table that shows four different classes of tickets, all the possible destinations, and the minimum amount of miles you may see for a one-way fare.

3. Estimate the value of your miles

The value of frequent-flyer miles is difficult to estimate, especially with programs like AAdvantage that have varying levels of awards for the miles you earn. In general, you should start by figuring out where you want to go and which of the three award options work best for what you’re planning.

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking to do with your miles, run some searches through AA.com’s booking tool and find out how much the flights that fit your needs cost in dollars. Then run the search again using miles. When you have both figures, divide the dollar amount by the number of miles to find the general value of your rewards.

Let’s look at how this works. You want to get away for Valentine’s Day weekend and are looking for a flight from Denver to Cancun, Mexico. You find a round-trip flight departing on February 14 and returning February 16 for $664. When you run the search again — this time selecting “Redeem miles” — you find the flight to Cancun will cost you 65,000 miles, and the flight back will cost 15,000 miles, for a total of 80,000 miles.

Now, we do the math: $664 / 80,000 miles = 0.0083.

Based on this equation, if you use your miles for this particular trip, each mile will be worth less than a penny each.

But if you have some flexibility in your schedule and can leave on February 13, you could get an Economy MilesSAAver fare to Cancun for only 15,000 miles, making your total spend 30,000 miles.

So, if the dollar value of that round-trip ticket remained the same, we can do the same math again: $664 / 30,000 miles = 0.0221.

This time, your miles are worth more than two cents each.

american airlines partners
As of Sep. 11, 2019

How you can best use your AAdvantage miles with partner airlines

Let’s take a look at some practical and fun ways you can fly with American Airlines and its partners using your AAdvantage miles.

Escape the Chicago cold for a sunny weekend in San Diego

If you’d like to leave on a Friday and come back Sunday in January, you could fly round trip with a Business/First MileSAAver award fare for 50,000 miles or Economy MileSAAver for 25,000 miles. But you could get an Economy Web Special and fly round trip for only 17,500 miles if you can swing coming home a few days later. And your carrier could be either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

Bucket-list backpacking trip starting in Barcelona

It’s time to check off a bucket-list item: backpacking around Europe, starting in Barcelona, Spain and working your way east in early May. You’ll need a one-way ticket from Philadelphia, which could run you as little as 30,000 miles flying economy with MileSAAver awards and up to 180,000 miles using an Business/First AAnytime fare. If you have some flexibility in your dates, you could score a Business/First MileSAAver award fare for only 57,500 miles. And depending on your travel dates, you could fly American Airlines, British Airways, or Iberia Airlines.

A multi-stop African adventure

You want to use your miles to explore both South Africa and Egypt, flying out of Boston in April. The flight from Boston to Cape Town, South Africa would cost you 40,000 miles for Economy MileSAAver or 75,000 miles for Business/First MileSAAver. Then you can fly from Cape Town to Cairo for 30,000 miles for Economy MileSAAver or 55,000 miles for Business/First MileSAAver. Your flight back to the U.S. from Cairo would be 40,000 miles for Economy MileSAAver; 70,000 miles for Business/First MileSAAver; or 115,000 miles for First MileSAAver. Your flights may be on British Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Iberia, or Royal Jordanian.

How to sign up for the American Airlines AAdvantage miles program

Signing up for the AAdvantage miles program is easy. Go to AA.com/Enroll and enter your information, which will include:

  • Name (use your official name on your travel documents)
  • Address
  • Email and phone number

You’ll choose a username and password, then designate security questions and answers. If you have a Redress or known traveler number (or both), you’ll be asked to provide that as well. Once registered, you’ll get an AAdvantage number, which you’ll use to get credit for all of your flights and purchases, as well as to sign up for additional AAdvantage programs.

Your miles can be tracked through a dedicated account page, where you’ll also be able to easily search for flights using miles. If you travel very frequently, you may jump in status from a basic program member to an Elite status member. If you earn Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum status, you’ll earn between 40% and 120% more miles over the basic level.

Status level Earning rate
AAdvantage Basic Membership Five miles per dollar
Gold Seven miles per dollar (plus 40%)
Platinum Eight miles per dollar (plus 60%)
Platinum Pro Nine miles per dollar (plus 80%)
Executive Platinum 11 miles per dollar (plus 120%)

Ways you can earn AAdvantage miles

Fly with American Airlines and its partner airlines

This is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck, so to speak. With a base earning of five miles to the dollar on American flights, a higher rate for Elite members, and miles for flights with any of American’s 21 partner airlines, there’s tons of earning potential here.

Participating in the AAdvantage Dining Program is a great way to earn miles while you’re doing something you love to do: going out to eat. To register, enter some basic information, including your AAdvantage miles customer number, and then link up to five credit or debit cards to the account.

When you dine at a participating restaurant and pay with a linked card, you can earn up to five miles per dollar spent. Keep in mind that these miles are in addition to any you earn by paying with a rewards credit card, so you have a chance to multiply your earnings.

Join the American Airlines online shopping program

If you join the AAdvantage eShopping mall program, you’ll be able to shop online and earn miles at a variety of rates at the same time. Once you register at AAdvantageEShopping.com, you can make purchases through that site at any of the 950 participating stores.

You can also download and add the AAdvantage eShopping button to your web browser, which will allow you to see if there are any miles you can earn when you shop at a site of your choice. With a simple click of your mouse, you can activate the offer.

american airlines partners

Transfer your Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham, or other hotel points

AAdvantage allows you to transfer points you’ve earned through several hotel customer loyalty programs to your bank of miles. Participating hotels include Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndam, Best Western, Choice Hotels, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

However, the transfer ratio is far from 1:1 for most hotels. For example, 10,000 Hilton Honors points equals 1,500 AAdvantage miles, while 6,000 Wyndham Rewards points equals 1,200 AAdvantage miles. Given these numbers, this option isn’t the best use of your points.

Look to transfer rewards from Marriott Bonvoy

American Airlines’ partnership with the Marriott Bonvoy program gives you the best transfer ratio for your loyalty points at 3:1. And for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you convert to AAdvantage miles in a single transaction, you can earn an extra 5,000 bonus miles.

A great way to earn even more Marriott Bonvoy points is with one of its credit cards, such as the following:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold: With no annual fee, a 50,000 point welcome bonus, and 3X Bonvoy points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy; 2X Bonvoy points on eligible travel purchases; 1X points per $1 on everything else, this is a great entry-level card to help you quickly rack up points.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless: This card is a step up from the Bold. Offering a small $95 annual fee, 100,000 points welcome bonus, 6X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy and 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases, automatic Silver Elite status, and an annual free night, you’ll quickly enjoy both points and perks.

Use one of American Airlines’ AAdvantage credit cards

You have several options available if you’re looking to earn miles through an American Airlines co-branded credit card. These four are our top picks:

  • Citi / AAdvantage MileUp Card: This is a great entry-level card, with a $0 annual fee and a modest welcome offer of both 10,000 miles and a statement credit. You get 2X for spending at grocery stores (including grocery delivery services), American Airlines purchases, which can help you build your bank of miles quickly.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: This card is for someone who travels a decent amount during the year. You definitely get more value from this card — and not just from the 50,000 miles welcome bonus. You earn 2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on American Airlines purchases; and unlimited 1X miles on all other purchases, plus you also get a free checked bag and preferred boarding when you fly American. The $99 (waived first year) annual fee is low and waived for the first year.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: This card is for the serious executive traveler. The annual fee is steep at $450, and you only earn 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and 1X miles for every $1 spent on other purchases. But you also get an Admirals Club membership as part of the welcome offer; free checked bags, priority boarding, priority security clearance for you and up to eight companions; statement credits; and up to 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles.
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: This card marries the best of all the other cards into one neat option that’s great for the casual or frequent traveler. The low $99 annual fee is earned back with a yearly $99 companion fare. There’s also a unique program that lets you round up purchases to the nearest dollar to earn more miles. You get checked bags and preferred boarding benefits for yourself and four companions. Overall, it’s a solid choice to investigate.
  • Card name Annual fee Intro bonus Earning rate Travel perks
    Citi / AAdvantage MileUp $0
    Earn 10,000 AAdvantage bonus miles (and a $50 statement credit) after making $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

    2X AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at grocery stores and on American Airlines purchases, plus 1X on everything else

    25% off inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines when using the card
    Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard $99 (waived first year) Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months

    2X miles at gas stations and restaurants, and on American Airlines purchases; and unlimited 1X miles on all other purchases

    $125 American Airlines flight discount after spending $20,000 or more during your card membership year and renewing your card

    First checked bag free

    Preferred boarding

    No foreign transaction fees

    25% off inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines when using the card

    Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard $450 Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

    2X miles on American Airlines purchases and 1X miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

    10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year

    First checked bag free for you and up to eight travel companions

    Priority boarding

    Priority check-in and priority airport screening (where available) for you and up to eight travel companions

    Admirals Club membership, plus access for authorized users

    Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

    No foreign transaction fees

    25% off inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines when using the card

    AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® $99 Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee

    2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

    Flight Cents program that lets you round up purchases to the nearest dollar to earn more miles

    Anniversary Companion Certificate for $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases and keeping your account open for 45 days after your card’s anniversary date

    First eligible checked bag free on domestic American Airlines flights for you and up to four companions

    Preferred boarding for you and up to four companions for all American Airlines-operated flights

    No foreign transaction fees

    Up to $25 annual statement credits for inflight American Airlines Wi-Fi purchases

    25% off inflight food and beverage purchases on American Airlines when using the card

    The bottom line on American Airlines partners

    Hopefully you’re not too overwhelmed with the huge amount of possibilities the AAdvantage miles program offers through both American Airlines and its partners. We’ve given you some great ideas for making the most of the miles you have and the ones you want to earn.

    There are seemingly endless options for using your miles, whether you’re looking to explore America or have more international destinations in mind. Now that you have some direction for where your next trip might take you, it’s time to start planning!

Earn American Airlines miles

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

Benefits

  • Earn up to 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar spent
  • No mileage caps
  • 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases
  • No annual fee