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The Best Credit Cards for American Airlines Flyers [Lounges, Upgrades, Priority Boarding & More]

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Christine Krzyszton
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Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

313 Published Articles

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Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
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Juan Ruiz

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Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...
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The American Airline’s AAdvantage® frequent flyer program was established in 1981, making it one of the world’s oldest frequent flyer programs. It’s also the world’s largest.

The AAdvantage brand, with its history and strong presence in the loyalty arena, is also prominent in the collection of nearly a dozen AAdvantage co-branded credit cards.

With offerings that include flight benefits, lounge access, companion tickets, a faster path to elite status, and the ability to earn miles for free flights, there’s an AAdvantage credit card for every American Airlines flyer.

But how do you sort through nearly a dozen cards and find a fit? And are there other travel rewards credit cards worth considering even if you’re an American Airlines loyalist?

Here’s all the information you need on the benefits of the top AAdvantage credit cards, issued by both Citi and Barclays, and a few alternative credit cards.

In the end, you’ll have the information you need to select a credit card that delivers the best bottom-line value for you.

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Best Credit Cards for American Airline Flight Benefits

American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards come with valuable flight benefits that can add comfort, convenience, or cost savings. Boarding early, free checked bags, and statement credits for your in-flight purchases are some examples of perks that add comfort and value.

Let’s take a look at the flight benefits you can expect from each of the best AAdvantage branded credit cards.

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In addition to the stated benefits above, the Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard card receives a $25 per anniversary year statement credit for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases.

Best Credit Cards for Earning on American Airlines and Everyday Purchases

American Airline Purchases

If you spend a lot on American Airlines,  you’ll want to be sure to have an AAdvantage credit card that earns at least 2 miles per dollar spent. The following AAdvantage credit cards deliver this level of earnings.

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In addition, the Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator®  Business World Elite Mastercard earns a 5% mileage bonus each anniversary year based on miles earned on the card.

Earning on Everyday Purchases

Earning AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases is great, but miles can add up faster if you can earn multiple miles per dollar spent on other purchases. Here’s how the bonus earnings break down by credit card.

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Bottom Line: To maximize earnings, select an AAdvantage branded credit card that earns at least 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and has bonus earning categories that match up with your spending profile. 

Best Credit Cards for AAdvantage Elite Status and Seat Upgrades

Here’s what it takes to annually qualify for American Airlines AAdvantage elite status, how AAdvantage credit cards can help you qualify, and how the upgrade process works.

What it Takes to Qualify for American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status

Having an American Airlines credit card alone will not help you get an upgraded seat. Elite status in the AAdvantage frequent flyer program is the key factor in whether you’ll receive an upgrade.

American now uses the Loyalty Points program to determine elite status. You’ll earn 1 Loyalty Point per $1 spent on any American Airlines credit card.

To earn AAdvantage Gold Elite status, you’ll need to earn 40,000 Loyalty Points during the qualifying period.

Bottom Line: Having an American Airlines AAdvantage credit card can help you achieve elite status faster by allowing you to earn Loyalty Points. Having elite status can then help you qualify for upgraded seating. 

Best Credit Cards for Admirals Club Lounge Access

The AAdvantage Executive World Elite card is the only AAdvantage-branded credit card that comes with complimentary Admirals Club access (not to mention a bunch of other perks).

Since an Admirals Club lounge membership can cost $850 annually, securing the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card as an avid American Airlines traveler makes good economic sense.

The cardholder is allowed to bring 2 additional guests or the cardholder’s immediate family. For example, if a cardholder is traveling with a spouse and their 2 teenagers, a total of 4 people, all would be allowed entrance.

Bottom Line: With complimentary Admirals Club access for the primary cardholder, 2 guests or immediate family, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card holds tremendous value for frequent American Airlines travelers who value lounge access. 

The Best AAdvantage Credit Cards for Companion Tickets

One of the best benefits of having an AAdvantage branded credit card is the $99 companion pass ticket. Each card anniversary year, after spending $20,000 on your card, you can secure a companion ticket for just $99 plus taxes and fees when purchasing a paid ticket. Currently, those fees are estimated to be between $21.60 to $43.20, according to Barclays.

The ticket is valid for travel between all 48 contiguous states. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii can use the ticket for flights originating in their home state round trip to the 48 contiguous states.

The AAdvantage Aviator Red card and AAdvantage Aviator Silver card each come with the companion ticket benefit after spending $20,000 each card anniversary year. The CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers the companion ticket benefit after spending $30,000 each card anniversary year.

Your card must remain active for 45 days after your card anniversary renewal to receive the companion ticket.

Bottom Line: The $99 companion ticket benefit, offered on 3 AAdvantage branded credit cards, could save you hundreds of dollars each year. 

AAdvantage Credit Cards – Additional Benefits

Barclays issued AAdvantage branded credit cards come with additional valuable travel and purchase benefits:

  • Car rental collision damage waiver – Provides coverage for damage from collision and for theft of your rental car
  • No foreign transaction fees – Carry your card while traveling as there are no foreign transaction fees
  • Baggage Delay – Up to $100 per traveler for delay of 6 hours or more
  • Trip delay – Up to $500 per traveler for trip delays of 12 hours or more
  • Trip cancellation/interruption – Receive up to $5,000 for trips canceled or interrupted for covered reasons
  • Lost luggage – $3,000 per traveler ($2,000 for New York residents), up to a maximum of $10,000 per trip
  • Travel, Emergency, and Roadside Assistance – 24/7 emergency services when things go wrong, the cardholder is responsible for the actual cost of services provided
  • Purchase Protection – 90 to 120 days of protection for covered items from purchase date for damage and theft
  • Extended Warranty – the manufacturer’s warranty will be extended on covered purchases by up to 24 months

Additionally, the AAdvantage Executive World Elite card comes with trip cancellation/interruption protection, trip delay protection, lost baggage protection, and car rental insurance.

This list is just an overview of additional benefits that may come with your AAdvantage branded credit card.  It is not all-inclusive and does not include all applicable terms and conditions. You can access the AAdvantage protection guide for more information here and review a list of World Mastercard benefits here.

Best Rewards Programs for Transferring to American AAdvantage

American Airlines flyers who want to purchase award travel on American can redeem their AAdvantage miles directly for airline tickets. Another option is to transfer points/miles from other programs to your AAdvantage frequent flyer account in order to purchase award tickets.

Transfer Hotel Loyalty Points to American AAdvantage

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Transfer ratios when transferring hotel points to AAdvantage miles can be less than stellar; however, topping off your AAdvantage account by transferring hotel points to reach a specific award ticket redemption level can be a useful option.

Other Options for Booking American Airlines Flights with Points and Miles

American Airlines has 1 direct transfer partner in Bilt Rewards, however it can be hard to earn lots of Bilt points since the program only has 1 credit card. However, you can transfer points from some of the most popular rewards programs to airlines that allow you to book flights on American.

Here are some of the best options for American Airlines award flights.

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Hot Tip: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points can be redeemed directly for American Airlines flights through the Chase Travel portal. If you use a premium Chase credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you will receive an increased redemption value of 1.5 cents per point.

Summary: Best Overall Personal AAdvantage Credit Cards for American Airlines Flyers

In this article, there was a lot of information pertaining to AAdvantage credit cards. It might be helpful to highlight the best overall credit cards for American flyers and summarize the features and benefits.

Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

  • Admirals Club lounge access for cardholder, 2 guests, immediate family
  • Earn 4 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals through aa.com
  • Earn Loyalty Points toward AAdvantage elite status
  • Free checked bag for cardholder and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation
  • Priority boarding, priority check-in, and priority TSA screening lines for cardholder and up to 8 companions
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • 25% statement credit for in-flight food and beverage purchases

AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard

  • Earn 3 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals
  • Earn Loyalty Points toward AAdvantage elite status
  • Free checked bag and preferred boarding for cardholder and up to 8 companions
  • Earn miles faster with Flight Cents™
  • $50 statement credit each anniversary year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases
  • $25 per day statement credit for in-flight food and beverage
  • Companion ticket for $99 after spending $20,000 in a calendar year
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

Summary: Best Overall Business Advantage Credit Card for American Airlines Flyers

CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, telecommunications, satellite and cable providers, car rentals, and gas stations
  • Preferred boarding and free checked bag for the cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions
  • 25% statement credit for inflight Wi-Fi purchases
  • Companion ticket for $99 after spending $30,000 in a calendar year

Barclays Aviator Business Mastercard

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on American Airline purchases, telecom, office supply stores, and car rentals
  • 5% mileage bonus after renewal each anniversary year
  • Preferred boarding and free checked bag for the cardholder and up to 4 traveling companions
  • 25% statement credit for in-flight food, beverage purchases
  • Companion ticket for $99 after spending $30,000 in a calendar year

Bottom Line: While initial welcome bonuses vary, you can count on thousands of American AAdvantage miles after meeting minimum spending requirements within the first 3-4 months (depending on the card) after you’re approved for any of the mentioned AAdvantage credit cards. 

Summary: Best Alternative Credit Cards for American Airline Flyers

The best overall credit card for the American Airlines flyer may not be an AAdvantage branded credit card. Premium travel rewards credit cards can offer broader lounge access opportunities, greater rewards on travel purchases, and premium travel benefits.

Here are 2 premium travel rewards credit cards to consider:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR. Carrying a balance will incur interest. Eligible charges can be included in the Pay Over Time balance, up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Pay Over Time only applies to eligible charges meeting minimum transaction amounts.
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR. Carrying a balance will incur interest. Eligible charges can be included in the Pay Over Time balance, up to the Pay Over Time Limit. Pay Over Time only applies to eligible charges meeting minimum transaction amounts.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

Why this card is great for American Airlines Flyers:

  • You’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on American Airlines flights purchased from American or from AmexTravel.com
  • The primary cardholder and 2 guests receive complimentary access to all lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection. This includes over 1,400 lounge properties worldwide, including the prestigious Centurion Lounge Network
  • A $200 airline incidental fee credit each year which can be used on American Airlines

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
60,000 points
$1,200
$550
22.49%-29.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.

The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options.  Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.

Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!

Pros
  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10x points on Lyft purchases March 31, 2025
  • 10x points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $250 through March 31, 2025
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • Does not offer any sort of hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 22.49%-29.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Why this card is great for American Airlines Flyers:

  • The card earns 3 Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar spent on travel which includes American Airline flights
  • The cardholder and 2 guests receive complimentary access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide with Priority Pass™ Select after enrollment
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards can be used to book American Airlines flights directly through the Chase Travel Portal
  • Elevated redemption level of 1.5 cents per point when booking travel through Chase Travel.
  • The $300 annual travel credit which can be used for American Airlines flights

Bottom Line: It’s wise to consider alternative premium travel rewards credit cards if you frequently fly on other airlines in addition to American Airlines. Premium travel rewards cards can provide greater earnings, more flexibility at redemption time, and broader travel benefits. 

Final Thoughts

If you travel frequently on American Airlines and general flight benefits, earning AAdvantage miles, and discounted in-flight purchases are important to you, you’ll do well with an AAdvantage branded credit card.

If you’re currently paying for an Admirals Club membership, it would be a sound economic decision to secure the AAdvantage Executive Platinum World Elite Mastercard that comes with complimentary access for you and your traveling companions.

If you travel frequently on a lot of different airlines, enjoy premium travel perks, and would find value in having access to a larger worldwide network of lounges, you might find a better fit with a premium rewards credit card.

As always, you’ll want to align your travel preferences, spending habits, and tolerance for paying an annual fee, to the credit card that brings you the most bottom-line value.

The information regarding Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator Business World Elite Mastercard was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

The information regarding the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 
The information regarding the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 
The information regarding AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding AAdvantage® Aviator® Blue Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best American Airlines credit card?

The best American Airlines credit card will depend on how often you fly American Airlines, whether lounge access is important to you, and your tolerance for paying an annual fee.

If you travel frequently on American Airlines, are currently paying for an annual Admirals Club membership, and don’t mind the annual fee, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers good value.

The steep annual fee is offset with the complimentary Admirals Club membership alone which can cost upwards of $850 annually.

Can American Airline miles be transferred?

American AAdvantage miles cannot be transferred to other airlines or rewards programs.

However, American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be used to book flights on American and partner airlines.

You can also transfer American AAdvantage miles to another account, however there are fees for doing so.

Which credit card earns American Airline miles?

All of the AAdvantage branded credit cards earn at least 1 American Airlines AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on the card.

Each credit card has its own earning structure and many have bonus categories where you can earn additional miles per dollar spent.

Selecting an AAdvantage credit card that earns at least 2 miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and offers bonus category earnings that match your spending habits is that fastest way to earns lots of American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Do American Airline miles expire?

American Airlines AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of inactivity in your AAdvantage frequent flyer account.

You can keep your miles from expiring by earning or redeeming miles with American Airlines or one of its partners.

Each time you make a qualifying activity, your expiration date is extended by 18 months.

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About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.

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