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11 Ways to Earn American Airlines (AAdvantage) Miles

American Airlines AAdvantage is one of the best travel loyalty programs around. If you regularly fly with American Airlines or any of its oneworld alliance partner airlines, AAdvantage miles can help you save real money on your next vacation or business trip.

You must earn those miles first, of course. Fortunately, with so many ways to accumulate American Airlines AAdvantage miles — from opening a Bask Mileage Savings Account to booking a vacation package through American Airlines Vacations — building your mileage balance is easier than you might think.

11 Ways Earn American Airlines (AAdvantage) Miles

You can earn American Airlines miles using any of the methods described below — or all of them. Just know that only one option, opening a Bask Mileage Savings Account and making your initial deposit, doesn’t require any spending.  

You’ll probably want to experiment with other mileage-earning options though. After all, the more miles you earn, the sooner you can take advantage of free or reduced-price American Airlines flights, fare class upgrades, and other choice perks and benefits.

1. Join the American Airlines AAdvantage Program

First things first. To earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you need to become a member of the American Airlines AAdvantage® program.

Use the AAdvantage enrollment page to create your AAdvantage account and get your unique AAdvantage number. Just enter some basic personal information, including your name, birthdate, and address, and create a strong account password that you don’t use anywhere else.

It takes just a few minutes to join. Once you’re an AAdvantage member, you can earn miles using any of the methods described here. 

Accumulate enough miles and you may be able to redeem free or reduced-price American Airlines flights (less government taxes and fees) or fare class upgrades to main cabin, business class, or first class. If you travel often enough, you may also ascend the ranks of elite status, earning increasingly valuable perks along the way.

2. Purchase Qualifying Airfare and Complete Your Journey

You can earn American Airlines miles as an AAdvantage member when you purchase qualifying airfare with American Airlines or any American Airlines partner airline. 

Earning Miles on American Airlines Flights

On American Airlines flights, you’ll earn miles based on your AAdvantage membership level:

Membership LevelPoints Earned Per Fare Dollar
General member (no elite status)5
Platinum Pro9

Here’s a simple example. 

As a general AAdvantage member, you’d earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles on a $200 fare: 200 * 5 = 1,000

As an Executive AAdvantage member, you’d earn 2,200 miles on a $200 fare: 200 * 11 =  2,200

Clearly, elite status pays.

Earning Miles on Partner Airline Flights

American Airlines partners with more than 20 oneworld partner airlines. Notables include:

  • British Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Qantas

On partner flights, you may earn miles based on the number of miles flown rather than the dollar cost of your fare. You may also earn a “cabin bonus” if you’re flying main cabin, business, or first class. Earn rates and cabin bonuses vary by partner, so check American Airlines’ partner page for information about the airlines you plan to fly with.

Whoever you fly with, miles post to your account in the weeks after you complete your journey. Don’t expect to see them the moment you touch down.

3. Stay at Partner Hotels

You can also earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles on qualifying hotel stays at about 500,000 partner hotels worldwide. Notable American airlines hotel partners include:

Partner Hotel GroupEarn Rate
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts500 miles per stay
Marriott International (Marriott Bonvoy)Up to 2 miles per $1 spent on qualifying charges
InterContinental Hotels and ResortsUp to 2 miles per $1 spent on qualifying charges

Just provide your AAdvantage member number when you book or check in at a partner hotel. Make sure you specify “miles” as your preferred reward method and American Airlines as your preferred airline. Otherwise, your earning path may default to hotel points.

4. Use Partner Rental Car Companies

You can earn AAdvantage miles on car rentals with American Airlines rental car partners, including Hertz and Avis. 

Some rental car companies offer a flat number of miles per reservation. For example, Avis, Budget, and Payless deliver 500 base miles every time you rent with them.

Other companies offer miles by the day or dollar. For example, rentals with Alamo, National, and Dollar earn 50 miles per day. Hertz rentals earn 1 base mile per 1 dollar spent.

5. Open an American Airlines Credit Card

If you have good credit, you may qualify for an American Airlines co-branded credit card. 

There are several to choose from, all issued by major financial institutions like Citi, American Express, and Barclays. Some earn their place among the best credit cards for frequent travelers thanks to impressive welcome bonuses, attractive earning rates on American Airlines purchases, and potentially valuable perks like additional bonus points on car rentals.

Most co-branded American Airlines rewards credit cards have annual fees, with the American Airlines AAdvantage Mileup Mastercard being a notable exception. An annual fee isn’t a dealbreaker if you can earn enough miles to offset it, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re a less frequent traveler.

6. Take Advantage of Credit Card Bonus Categories

Co-branded American Airlines credit cards don’t only earn miles on American Airlines purchases. Depending on the card, you might also enjoy higher earning rates on everyday purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. 

The more you spend, the more extra miles you could earn.

Before you apply, think about your spending habits. What nontravel purchases do you spend the most on in a typical month or year? Then, take a look at your co-branded American Airlines card options and choose the product that best aligns.

7. Transfer Miles From Another Credit Card

Don’t want to apply for a co-branded American Airlines credit card right now? You might be able to convert credit card points or miles from an existing credit card into AAdvantage miles.

This strategy works best if you have a travel rewards credit card with a generous rewards transfer program. 

For example, Chase credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve card let you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to more than a dozen travel partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. Those partners include British Airways, a oneworld alliance member, although not American Airlines itself.

Still, converting and transferring miles from other credit cards can boost the value of bonus points earned on purchases with those cards. It’s yet another way to earn American Airlines miles without booking a flight.

8. Open a Bask Mileage Savings Account with Bask Bank

Forget earning American Airlines miles by booking a flight. Earn American Airlines miles by saving. With a Bask Mileage Savings Account*, you can earn AAdvantage bonus miles without spending any money at all or dinging your credit by applying for a new credit card. 

How much can you earn? After a recent 20 percent increase in miles per dollar saved, every $1 deposited in your Bask Mileage Savings Account earns 2 American Airlines Aadvantage® miles each year. That’s 60,000 Aadvantage miles per year on an initial deposit of $50,000. 

Miles earned through Bask Bank don’t always count toward AAdvantage elite status. But, you can redeem them for award flights, fare upgrades, and purchases with American Airlines’ hotel and rental car partners too. Get rewarded for doing something you probably do anyway — putting away a portion of your paycheck for a rainy day.  

*Bask Bank is a division of Texas Capital Bank, Member FDIC. The sum of your total deposits with (i) Bask Bank; (ii) Texas Capital Bank; and (iii) any other division of Texas Capital Bank are insured up to $250,000. Additional coverage may be available depending on how your assets are held.

9. Book Through American Airlines Vacations

Planning an all-inclusive getaway to the Caribbean? An epic jaunt through Europe? Book your next big adventure through American Airlines Vacations and you could earn a healthy AAdvantage miles bonus for your troubles.

Bonus opportunities vary by package. For example, select Marriott Resorts Caribbean getaways earn 15,000 bonus miles, while select Sandals and Beaches Resorts vacation packages earn 25,000 bonus miles. And on top of bonus AAdvantage miles when you book, you could qualify for discounted room rates and other perks.

10. Shop Through the AAdvantage eShopping Mall

As an AAdvantage member, you can earn bonus miles with more than 1,200 American Airlines partner retailers. Notable partners include:

  • Apple
  • The Home Depot
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Macy’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Disney
  • Nike
  • Backcountry

Your hub for bonus miles and other potentially valuable promotions is the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, an online shopping portal that makes it easy to connect with your favorite brands without leaving your home.

Earn rates vary by brand but can be generous. Look for the “extra miles” label for opportunities to earn as many as 5 AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible purchases.

11. Join American Airlines AAdvantage Dining

Love dining out as much as you love traveling? 

Join the American Airlines AAdvantage Dining program to earn bonus miles when you dine at participating restaurants and pay with your linked credit or debit card. Every eligible dollar spent earns miles, and you can earn 1,000 bonus miles after you spend at least $25 in your first 30 days in the program.

Just enter your ZIP code in the AAdvantage Dining search feature to find participating restaurants in your area.

Final Word

There’s only one way on this list to earn American Airlines miles without any new spending: open a Bask Mileage Savings Account, make your first deposit, and reap the rewards. 

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.