American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program Review

American Airlines AAdvantage Loyalty Program Review

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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.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to American at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 American miles bonus.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn up to 17x total Bovoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card at at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2x Bonvoy points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Bold card at over 7,000 participating in Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.

Earn 6x per $1 at hotels participants in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x on all other eligible purchases. Annual Fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021.

This is a solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

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.

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 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, except for members who are under 21 years of age.

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

AAdvantage Elite Status

AAdvatange Elite Status

AAdvantage has 4 elite status levels.

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 Main Cabin Extra seats within 24 hours of departure (50% advance purchase discount eliminated)
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Oneworld Ruby status for priority check-in and security with partners
  • Earn one mile per dollar spent at Hyatt with the AAdvantage – World of Hyatt promotion (link accounts here)

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
  • Complimentary same-day flight changes
  • Oneworld Sapphire status (will upgrade to Emerald in early 2021) for access to partner business class lounges (not American Admirals Club)
  • Members will be able to choose from a list of rewards such as a systemwide upgrade, Admirals Club day passes, AAdvantage bonus miles, and more

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

  • All Platinum Pro benefits plus:
  • 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)
  • Choice benefits at 120,000, 160,000 and 200,000 EQMs
  • Members can choose to maintain up to the 4 systemwide upgrades received or have the flexibility to select from a list of additional rewards

American Airlines 2021 Elite Choice Rewards
2021 AAdvantage Elite Choice rewards for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum. Image Credit: American Airlines

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 AAdvantage 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.

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, but in recent years the major benefit of systemwide upgrades (SWUs) was cut in half from 8 to 4.

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 AAdvantage Elite Status

Requirements for reaching elite status in 2021 were revised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new requirements are:

2021            Qualifying MetricGold
Oneworld Ruby
Oneworld Sapphire
Platinum Pro
Oneworld Sapphire
Executive Platinum
Oneworld Emerald

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.

The EQD requirement for Executive Platinum status is now $15,000, again copying Delta and United.

The Barclaycard-issued AAdvantage® AviatorTM Silver MasterCard® now only earns $3,000 EQDs after spending $50,000 in qualifying purchases per calendar year.

Hot Tip: The EQD requirement for Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Pro will be waived in 2021 if you use your eligible AAdvantage credit card to spend $30,000 on purchases.

The following Barclaycard-issued cards no longer earn EQDs: AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red, AviatorTM Blue, and AviatorTM Business MasterCard®.

How to Earn AA Miles

There are a 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).

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.

Hot Tip:You can now redeem for premium economy awards. award availability so far has Been RARE.

If you’re interested, we’ve dedicated an entire post to the best of the best ways to redeem 100K AAdvantage Miles.

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.

Both Etihad and Qatar now have certain transit exceptions providing for single-award pricing to Africa and other areas.

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: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Cape Air, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Malaysian, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7, SriLankan, and Air Tahiti Nui.

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 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 AAdvantange 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.

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Aadvantage Loyalty Program Review

Frequently asked questions

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?

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, except for members who are under 21 years of age. 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 2021, your status is good through January 2023.

Is there an American Airlines credit card?

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.

Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

Use this points strategy to lock in pennies-on-the-dollar pricing in 2021, all without being a frequent flyer...

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. Maryjane Eldred July 16, 2018

    Be careful of the fees. I cancelled a flight I purchased with points and to reinstate those points would cost me $150, about half the cost of the original ticket. I was truly disappointed in that it took me a year to earn those points and I had to cancel due to illness. The ticket was for a family event that won’t happen again before the points expire. I also don’t expect to fly again this year so basically I lost all my points/miles.


  2. David I Reichman November 7, 2018

    Given it is November 7th 2018, is there any partner or AA offering double/triple EQM this year ?


    • Hi David, we haven’t seen any offers for EQM multipliers yet this year but you should definitely keep an eye out. AA has been known to send them out in the past.


  3. Julie Burke May 18, 2019


    May I donate my AA Advantage miles to my daughters AA Advantage account? If so, please advise as to where I can find instructions. Thanks!

    Julie Burke


  4. AA miles are pretty much worthless as hardly any premium cabin is available under milesaver. AA is so bad that when I was looking at NRT-ORD on a specific date, they had no seats for several month out. However, when I go to JAL’s ( oneworld partner) site they have 4 seats in Business class on the same AA flight #154 available under JAL’s mile saver which is 50,000 miles. AA will not open any seats for their own customers but they will for a partner airline frequent flyer. There is something really wrong here.


  5. jacqueline wurn July 3, 2019

    How do I sign up?


  6. Luis Ramos-Garcia July 23, 2019

    I have been an AAvantage member for a number of years, but many times AA employees had trouble to find my AAdvantage number, thus they asked me to report it my trips to AA at a later time, I am never sure if I had those miles credited to me. I believe this is happening because the AAdvantage name different from my legal name, which contains a middle name. Could you please correct this in your records, and send me a new membership card with the correct name? Thank you for your help. Luis


    • Luis,

      For security reasons, we removed your AAdvantage number, address, and phone number. We are NOT American Airlines, so we cannot provide any guidance in this matter. Please contact American Airlines and address the issue with them. Thanks.


  7. Roger Masse July 29, 2019

    Can a Spouse use my frequent flyer miles? Nowhere can I find an answer to this simple question. Thanks!


    • Hi Roger. You, as the owner of your AAdvantage frequent flyer account, can book tickets using miles for anyone. Hopefully this answers your question. If not, please clarify.


  8. When did it start costing an extra $75 to book a flight using AAdvantage miles?


  9. Barry B. Culpepper Jr. November 6, 2019

    My name on my American mileage account does not match my passport or my tickets when they are booked. How can I change my name on my American Airlines AAdvantage account to reflect my passport?

    Barry B. Culpepper Jr.


  10. Lucille Simpson November 16, 2019

    How do I cancel a booked flight do to a medical condition?


  11. Richard P. Ellis March 1, 2020

    How can I get mileage after I took a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji?
    I started out with American then Qantas, and finished up my trip with
    FIJI airways. Is there anyway I can get credit for all those miles? My AADVANTAGE # is 5XXXX.
    I do have all my tickets to verify if needed plus I also had my girlfriend with me and I have all her tickets.
    Please advise me. Thank you.


  12. Joanne Garland April 16, 2020

    We are 73 years old. American has just changed our one-way September award flight from Amsterdam to the US. The new flight takes seven hours longer and arrives after midnight, which will not work for us! We have paid over $100 in taxes. What are our options?


    • Hi Joanne,

      If you change the ticket, you won’t be double-charged for taxes and fees. You’ll get your taxes and fees refunded and your new taxes and fees will be charged. You’ll just need to find availability for a different flight that fits your schedule. After your find availability, you should be able to change it.


  13. Klaude Konrad July 20, 2020

    How do I talk to someone about my account?


  14. RUSSELL CLINE December 19, 2020

    My son was a frequent flyer with American. He was killed in a very untimely manner. Can his daughter get any benefits from his accumulated miles?


    • Hi Russell,

      I’m very sorry for your loss. According to American: “If a loved one dies, call the AAdvantage customer service line and they will send you an email requesting a copy of the death certificate and an affidavit. The affidavit will need to include the deceased member’s account number and the account info of the person(s) you would like to transfer the miles to.”


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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