American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program Review

American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program

American Airlines Summary Table

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

There are several credit cards that can help you earn American miles that can be redeemed for some great award flights.

American Airlines Credit Cards

American Airlines has a credit card partnership with both Citi and Barclaycard. You can earn American miles directly with any one of them. One can even help you earn elite status.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
Annual Fee: $95 (Fee waived for the first 12 months)
Our Review
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
Annual Fee: $450.
Our Review
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications, car rental merchants and at gas stations.
Annual Fee: $95 (Fee waived for the first 12 months)
Our Review
Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ Mastercard®1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on purchases.
Annual Fee: $50 (Fee waived for the first 12 months)
Our Review
AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®Earn 2X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
Annual Fee: $95

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

If you’re looking for the way to earn the most American miles, earning SPG Starpoints could be your ticket. Thanks to a transfer bonus of 5,000 American miles for every transfer of 20,000 SPG Starpoints you’ll even more miles.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Full Review
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Full Review

Other Hotel Partner Credit Cards

Several other hotel programs will let you transfer points to American Airlines. However, this is almost always a poor use of hotel points. Unless you are really in a bind, save your hotel points for hotel award stays at your destination.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card
Hilton Honors Loyalty ProgramHilton Honors™ Card from American Express
Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express
Citi® Hilton Honors™ Visa Signature® Card
Citi® Hilton Honors™ Reserve Card
Marriott Rewards Loyalty ProgramChase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
IHG Rewards Club Loyalty ProgramChase IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
World of Hyatt Loyalty ProgramChase Hyatt Credit Card
Choice Privileges Loyalty ProgramBarclaycard Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card

American Airlines Overview

American’s mileage loyalty program is known as AAdvantage; it is one of the industry’s original loyalty programs and remains the largest with over 67 million members.

AAdvantage has been acclaimed as one of the more customer-friendly airline mileage programs, with elite status acquired solely through mileage or segment accumulation rather than the elite status points many foreign carriers prefer.

Miles can be earned by spending with American, Oneworld partners, and other select participating airlines, as well as over 1,000 other non-airline partners.

Accrued miles can then be used on any American flight, upgrade, or redemption travel on a partner airline, as well as some vacations, car rentals, hotels, and other retail products.

Joining AAdvantage

Enrollment is easy and you do not have to fly American before applying. Simply fill out the form and you’re on your way!

You will gain the ability to earn miles and redeem awards, as well as work your way up toward elite status, which we will discuss in the next section.

How To Sign in to Your AAdvantage Account

Sign in on the aa.com homepage. You’ll need to enter your last name, AAdvantage account number, and password.

AAdvatange Sign-in
The login screen for AAdvantage.

Hot Tip: You can search award flight availability on the American Airlines website without logging in to your account.

Viewing Your Account Activity

Detailed AAdvantage account activity is limited to 6 months. By visiting the new Account Activity page, you can now see some activity as far back as 12 months.

Particularly if you have many partner flights that can have errors in awarding miles, it’s a good idea to print out your account activity every few months for your records. AAdvtange can look up historic records, but they’ll charge you a fee.

Points Expiration

AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of inactivity.

Any miles earning or redeeming activity counts, so you have many options beyond taking flights, such as using an American Airlines credit card, using the AAdvantage shopping portal, or enrolling in AAdvantage Dining to earn a few points. All these activities reset the 18-month clock!

AA Mileage Program

AAvantage Elite Status

AAdvatange Elite Status

AAdvantage now has 4 elite status levels with the 2017 launch of Platinum Pro, which sits between Platinum and Executive Platinum.

AAdvantage Gold: While other airlines have silver as their first elite status tier, American starts with Gold. Like other airlines, benefits at this level are few, but here are some highlights:

  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Oneworld Ruby status for priority check-in and security with partners

AAdvantage Platinum (comparable to Gold status with Delta and United):

  • All Silver benefits plus:
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats
  • 2 free checked bags
  • Oneworld Sapphire status for access to partner business class lounges (not American Admirals Club)

AAdvantage Platinum Pro (comparable to Platinum status with Delta and United):

  • All Platinum benefits plus:
  • Complimentary upgrades without 500-mile flight limit
  • Oneworld Sapphire status for access to partner business class lounges (not American Admirals Club)

AAdvantage Executive Platinum (comparable to Delta Diamond and United 1K):

  • All Platinum Pro benefits plus:
  • 4 one-way systemwide upgrades
  • Complimentary upgrades without 500-mile flight limit
  • Complimentary same-day flight changes
  • Complimentary award change and redeposit
  • Expanded award seat availability
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Oneworld Emerald Status for access to partner first class lounges (not American Admirals Club)

Check American’s site for the full line-up of benefits. The most important thing for new American Airlines elites to understand is the 500-mile upgrade system in lieu of unlimited complimentary upgrades.

Value of AAvantage Elite Status

Overall, the perception among many travelers is that American Airlines elite status is losing value, and their Gold and Platinum levels lag behind the competition.

The newly launched Platinum Pro does not stack up well against Delta and United Platinum (they still charge same-day change fees, for example).

Frequent international travelers may consider their Oneworld Sapphire status among the best benefits of Platinum and Platinum Pro, since it grants access to partner business class lounges.

At the top, Executive Platinum has long been respected as one of the highest value airline status levels. Last year, though, the major benefit of systemwide upgrades (SWUs) was cut in half from 8 to 4.

Executive Platinum is the only American Airlines status that gives fee waivers on same-day flight changes and award ticket changes, which is a courtesy commonly seen at much lower tier status among competitors.

Unique among U.S. airline programs, Executive Platinum grants Oneworld Emerald status, which provides access to partner first class lounges even when flying economy. Comparable status with Delta and United only grants business class or similar lounge access, but not first class.

Earning AAvantage Elite Status

In 2017, American Airlines implemented a new elite qualification system.

Elite status AA qualification 2017

Now you need a combination of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs).

Only EQSs are similar to the previous system. EQSs are calculated based on every eligible flown segment. For example, a non-stop New York to Los Angeles flight earns 1 segment, while the same trip connecting in Chicago earns 2 segments.

EQMs are based on your fare class and the distance flown. Basically, the different fare classes have an EQM multiplier: discount economy is 1x, full-fare is 1.5x, business is 2x, and first earns 3x. This also applies to codeshares with an AA flight number that are operated by partners.

You also earn EQMs for flying on partner airlines, but the amount differs per partner. For instance, British Airways only earns at 0.5–1.5 EQM per actual mile flown.

You only need to meet one of the EQS or EQM requirements in combination with the new EQDs to earn a status level.

The biggest new addition is the extra requirement of EQDs, copying earlier moves by Delta and United.

EQDs are based on ticket price (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees). As with EQMs, the most straightforward earning is on American Airlines flights and AA-marketed codeshares.

Other partner flights earn EQDs as a percentage of the flight distance and the fare class purchased. It can be difficult to know in advance how many EQDs you earn for trips.

Citibank-issued American Airlines credit cards do not have the ability to earn EQDs. Barclaycard-issued cards earn EQDs at the following rates:

  • AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red, AviatorTM Blue, and AviatorTM Business MasterCard® accounts earn $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 per calendar year.
  • AAdvantage® AviatorTM Silver MasterCard® earns $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 plus another $3,000 EQDs after $50,000 in qualifying purchases per calendar year.

How To Earn AA Miles

There are a great variety of ways to earn points. From flying on American or its partners to utilizing other services, you will always be able to find ways to earn AAdvantage miles.

Earning Miles Through Flying

Mileage earning on American Airlines flights is now based on ticket price (base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, excluding government-imposed taxes and fees):

  • Base member – 5 miles/U.S. dollar
  • Gold member – 7 miles/U.S. dollar (40% bonus)
  • Platinum member – 8 miles/U.S. dollar (60% bonus)
  • Platinum Pro member – 9 miles/U.S. dollar (80% bonus)
  • Executive Platinum member – 11 miles/U.S. dollar (120% bonus)

What you earn with airline partners depends on the partner, fare class, and marketing carrier (codeshare).

Earn Miles With Credit Cards

American Airlines has co-branded cards with both Citi and Barclaycard that make it easy to earn American miles directly.

Your best option is probably earning SPG Starpoints with one of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards. Every transfer of 20,000 Starpoints to your American AAdvantage account earns you a bonus of 5,000 miles.

Earning Bonus Miles in Other Ways

Other partner bonus miles are a great way to earn extra miles for less frequent travelers.

Sign up for newsletters or follow the airline or mileage program via their Facebook or Twitter accounts to find out the latest promotions for earning bonus miles.

Make sure to use partner services for car rentals, hotel reservations, or vacation rentals, and add your AAdvantage number to all reservations*.

American’s preferred car rental agencies are Avis and Budget, but you can earn miles with other rental car agencies as well.

You can also earn miles through dining and shopping with the AA Dining Program and the eShopping Mall.

*Note: If you add your airline loyalty program to other services, you won’t also earn status points with these franchises (unless it’s a preferred car rental agency that has specifically partnered with the airline; this partnership acts as a sort of alliance between airline and rental agency).

How To Redeem American AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines has 3 core types of flight awards:

  • MileSAAver – cheapest economy awards (increasingly difficult to find availability)
  • AAnytime Level 1 – peak rates
  • AAnytime Level 2 – even higher peak rates

There are 2 additional types of MileSAAver awards:

  • MileSAAver Off Peak – seasonal discounted rates for economy travel between specific regions (see regions and dates here)
  • MileSAAver (U.S. and Canada flights under 500 miles) – discounted short flight rate for economy/business travel

See the full award chart here. Here is travel within the Continental U.S.:

Continental U.S.MileSAAver Off PeakMileSAAver (under 500 miles)MileSAAverAAnytime Level 1AAnytime Level 2
EconomyNot in this region7,50012,50020,00030,000
Business/First (2-cabin)*15,00025,00045,00055,000
Business (3-cabin)*32,50052,50062,500
First (3-cabin)*50,00085,00095,000

*Business and first class pricing can be confusing. Many routes and planes only have 2-cabin service, so it may be called “Business” or “First” but the price will be the same.

In a 3-cabin aircraft with separate economy, business, and first classes (such as JFK-LAX/SFO transcontinental routes or select international routes), they’ll charge higher rates for first than for business.

Oneworld and Partner Awards

AAdvantage has a separate Oneworld and other airline partner award chart with its own pricing.

American Airlines has many unpublished award routing rules that you learn through trial and error. For instance, a U.S.-Australia route is not allowed to transit via Asia unless you pay the more expensive U.S.-Asia one-way price plus the Asia-Australia one-way price. It is cheaper to fly direct, but award availability on American and partner Qantas is scarce.

Booking Online

Not all American Airlines partners can be booked online, so don’t give up. Call American Airlines to check for availability.

Only these partners can be booked online: Airberlin, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas Airways, and Royal Jordanian Airlines. This leaves out exciting partners like Cathay Pacific, Iberia, and JAL!

To save time, do research on partner airline websites prior to calling American Airlines:

  • Use the British Airways or Qantas website for Oneworld partners
  • Use the Alaska Airlines website for Alaska Airlines or Fiji Airways flights
  • Use the Etihad website for Etihad flights (look for GuestSeat availability, not OpenSeat)

Hot Tip: To book business or first class awards on Etihad, you need to call AAdvatange in Australia at +61-02-9101-1948. They can put the award on hold for you; then call AAdvantage in the U.S. to issue the ticket. If you call the U.S. directly, you will be told there are no Etihad award seats.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply Now

FAQ

What is the American Airlines AAdvantage Program? Is it worth it? What are the benefits?
AAdvantage is the loyalty or frequent flyer program for American Airlines. It is a free program, and by signing up you can earn a range of benefits and gain the ability to earn free flights.

Benefits are earned based on elite status. The 4 tiers of elite status in the program are Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum.

Depending on your level, you will get access to free bags, priority check in and boarding, premium seats, security priority, access to upgrades, and more.

In 2017, AAdvantage moved to a fully revenue-based miles-earning system based on dollars spent rather than distance flown.

Once you have earned enough miles by flying with American or earning with their partners, you can redeem for travel through AA or any of their Oneworld Alliance or other airline partners.

In AAdvantage, who are the partners? Can I transfer miles to them?
Partners in AAdvantage are many, including travel partners (airlines, hotels, etc.) and shopping partners. You can utilize miles to travel with all Oneworld partners and other partner airlines. However, you can’t directly transfer miles to these partners.

You can use miles to transfer to hotel partners for booking, and you can also use miles to shop at a variety of other partners.

What is the American Airlines AAdvantage login?
You can sign in to AAdvantage here.

Where can I sign up for AAdvantage?
Sign up to the AAdvantage program by filling out this online form.

What is my AAdvantage number?
You can find your AAdvantage number by signing in to your account, on your membership card, or through a variety of marketing emails they send to you.

If you can’t find it there, try using the “forgot my password” tool to reset your account so you can get in. Alternatively, try calling the customer service desk to find your number.

When did the AAdvantage program start?
The program started on May 1, 1981, and is credited as the first major airline loyalty program.

Are US Airways and American Airlines the same company? Do they share loyalty programs?
Yes. The companies have merged, and at this point they share loyalty program accounts under the AAdvantage name.

When do miles post in AAdvantage?
It can take up to a week after your flight for miles to post, but sometimes it takes longer. If you are earning miles through partners, wait 6-10 weeks to ensure your miles are credited.

When do AAdvantage miles expire?
Miles will expire after 18 months of inactivity. Simply earn or redeem once every 18 months to keep your miles active. Any type of mileage earning or redemption activity counts, such as online shopping mile bonuses.

When does AAdvantage status expire?
Your status will be good through the next calendar year and January of the following year. For instance, if you earn status in June 2017, your status is good through January 2019.

Is there an American Airlines credit card?
Yes. We have reviews of the 4 main cards:

In AAdvantage, what is a segment?
A segment is each take-off and touch-down of your flight. If you have a one-way flight out and then you stop in 1 other city before returning home, that is a total of 3 segments.

What is AAdvantage hold?
If you find a reservation you may want to book, you can hold the reservation for 24 hours instead of booking it to decide whether the fare is right for you.

The hold option is available at checkout as an alternative to paying.