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The Best Ways to Use 10,000 (or Fewer) American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

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Andrew Kunesh
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Andrew Kunesh

Former Content Contributor

69 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 22

Andrew’s a lifelong traveler who puts in over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew’s worked at Th...
Edited by: Kellie Jez
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Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

6 Published Articles 1185 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 10U.S. States Visited: 20

Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s c...

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American Airlines AAdvantage® miles have a ton of great redemption options. You can use them to fly on any of American’s worldwide partners like Qatar Airways, Qantas Airways, and Japan Airlines, or you can opt for domestic flying on American and Alaska Airlines.

But what if you have 10,000 or fewer American AAdvantage miles in your account? You’re not out of luck. Thankfully, American has a suite of low-points redemptions that can be used to maximize even the smallest number of miles.

Some of these redemptions are a better value than others.  This article will show you the best ways to redeem American AAdvantage miles and specifically focus on which ways give you the best value for your points.

Redeem For Short-Haul Awards

Short-haul flights within the United States cost just 7,500 miles one-way
Redeem 7,500 American Airlines miles for a short-haul flight within the United States. Image Credit:

American Airlines charges 7,500 miles for one-way domestic redemptions on flights under 500 miles. This is 5,000 miles cheaper than a standard domestic award ticket and often provides excellent value for a small number of miles.

For example, a one-way flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Bloomington, IL (BMI) costs 7,500 miles given the cities are only 135 miles apart. However, a paid flight on the same date in April 2019 is $295, giving you a cent per point value of 3.8 cents.

While these domestic destinations aren’t the most exciting ways to use your American AAdvantage miles, it’s one of the best ways to get maximum value for a small number of miles.

Redeem For Short-Haul Awards Within Australia and Fiji

Intra-Pacifica flights start at just 5,000 miles one-way.
You can also redeem small amounts of American AAdvantage miles for intra-Australia and Fiji flights. Image Credit:

Like short-haul awards in the United States, flights within Australia and Fiji can also be pricey.

Thankfully, one-way economy flights within Australia can be booked for just 10,000 American Airlines miles one-way. Furthermore, intra-Fiji flights can be booked for just 5,000 miles one-way, so you can save a nice chunk of change on your next excursion to Pacifica.

Hot Tip: American Airlines doesn’t operate Intra-Australia or Fiji flights. This means you’ll fly partners like Qantas and Fiji Airways on these redemptions. 

Upgrade Full-Fare Flights

Another way to redeem a small amount of American AAdvantage miles is by upgrading domestic flights from full-fare economy to first class.

Currently, flights within the contiguous U.S., Alaska, and Canada can be upgraded for 5,000 miles one-way. On the other hand, flights from the contiguous U.S. to Alaska, Hawaii, and Central America can be upgraded for 8,000 miles one-way.

Keep in mind that full-fare economy flights can often cost more than discounted business class flights on these routes. So unless you’re already booked in full-fare economy, these flights may not be the best way to redeem your miles.

Redeem For Newspaper Subscriptions

American Airlines Newspaper subscription
You can redeem your American Airlines miles for newspaper subscriptions. Image Credit:

You can redeem small amounts of American AAdvantage miles for newspaper subscriptions too. To do this, go to American’s Newspaper Rewards website and find a newspaper subscription that you’re interested in. Each newspaper subscription offered has a different redemption rate with some offering better value than others.

Proceed with caution if you go this route, though. Many subscriptions will automatically renew to the credit card on file at the end of their term, so make sure to cancel before you’re auto-billed if you don’t plan on keeping the subscription past its first year.

Redeem American AAdvantage Miles For A LifeLock Subscription

With identity theft on the rise, it may be worth investing in a LifeLock subscription. LifeLock protects your online and real-world identity from theft and exploitation.

You can redeem 2,500 American AAdvantage miles for a 6-month subscription to LifeLock Standard™. After this period, your LifeLock membership will renew to your credit card on file with a 10% discount. This subscription is $9.99 a month, giving you a value of nearly 2.4 cents per point.

Redeem For Hotel Stays or Rental Cars

Redeeming American Airlines miles for a hotel stay in Prague.
You can redeem American AAdvantage miles for hotel stays and car rentals, but you might not get the best value for your points.

You can redeem American AAdvantage miles for car rentals and hotel stays booked through the American Airlines portal. The number of miles you’ll need for a redemption depends on how expensive the award is; the more expensive car rentals and more hotel stays will cost more miles.

For example, a one-night stay at the a&o Prague Rhea hotel costs $46 for a one-night stay in May. The same room can be booked for 9,300 points, giving you a cent per point value of only 0.49 cents per point.

Hot Tip: Hotel bookings made through the American Airlines portal often aren’t eligible for upgrades and other hotel elite status benefits.

This is relatively low compared to other redemptions on this list, so this isn’t the recommended route for redemption.

Finally, you can donate American AAdvantage miles to charity. There is no minimum donation and you can donate your miles to one of three charities that American supports:

  • Miles for Our Social Good — donates miles to organizations that improve the healthcare and financial stability of people in need
  • Miles for Our Well-Being — donates miles to organizations that raise awareness for specific medical causes
  • Miles for Our Heroes — donates miles to organizations that work to support veterans and active-duty military

Final Thoughts

Many people think that you need tons of miles to cash in on award redemptions; however, great redemptions can start with less than 10,000 AAdvantage miles.

Overall, stick to redeeming your miles on short-haul award tickets if possible. This will often give you the highest point value, ensuring that you’re not leaving any value on the table—even if you’re just redeeming a small amount of miles.

If you’d prefer to save your miles for a higher-end redemption, consider signing up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®. This card will let you earn American AAdvantage miles on your everyday purchases so you can quickly build a stock of miles.

Safe travels!

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I earn American Airlines miles?

You can earn American Airlines miles by using an American Airlines co-branded credit card, flying on American Airlines or partner flights, or using one of the other many ways we’ve highlighted here.

Can I transfer miles from my credit card to American Airlines?

Currently American Airline’s only transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy. You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines at a rate of 3:1, meaning that 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy points yields 3,333 American Airlines miles. You will get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred.

What is the best way to redeem small amounts of American Airlines miles?

We recommend sticking to short-haul award tickets. These can often provide excellent value, especially if you’re traveling between two smaller cities.

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About Andrew Kunesh

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.

He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Fast forward a few years, and Andrew now travels just over 100,000 miles a year, with over 25 countries, 10 business class products, and 2 airline statuses (United and Alaska) under his belt. Andrew formerly worked for The Points Guy and is now Senior Money Editor at CNN Underscored.

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