Cheap Car Rentals: Part 9 – American Airlines Car Rentals

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Cheap Car Rentals: Part 9 – American Airlines Car Rentals

Million Mile SecretsCheap Car Rentals: Part 9 – American Airlines Car RentalsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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You can book car rentals with American Airlines miles. You don’t have to pay the full amount using miles, but can combine cash and miles for most of the rental.

Use American Airlines Miles for Car Rentals
Use American Airlines Miles for Car Rentals

Cheap Car Rentals Series:

 American Airlines Car Rentals

Link:   UseAAMiles.com

American Airlines lets you use miles to book car rentals at UseAAMiles.com

However, you will pay taxes and fees at the rental counter as well.  But this can still be worth checking out since you may be able to save money.  You can also use American Airlines miles to book international car rentals.

You can’t book a one-way rental and can’t book a rental outside of selected airports.  Here is a link to the terms and conditions. 

The cancellation policy is VERY restrictive

  1. There is a $150 cancellation fee for canceling 5 or more days before the rental.  There is NO refund for canceling within 4 days of the rental
  2. You CANNOT cancel if your reservation is between December 17 & January 13
  3. Changes can be made up to 24 hours prior to pick-up for a $30 fee

Step 1 – Search For a Car Rental

Go to UseAAMiles.com and search for a car rental

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Search for a Car Rental

Step 2 – Check Price in Miles

You will see different amount of miles required if you:

HIGHEST RATE FOR REGULAR MEMBERS

Lower Rates for Citi American Airlines Credit Card Holders
Highest Price (10,500 Miles For a 2 Day Rental) for Regular Members

LOWER RATE FOR CITI AMERICAN AIRLINES CREDIT CARD HOLDERS

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Lower Price (4,700 Miles For a 2 Day Rental) for Citi American Airlines Credit Card Holders

LOWEST RATE FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES ELITE MEMBERS

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Lowest Price (3,900 Miles For a 2 Day Rental) for American Airlines Elite Members

I checked that the rate was the same for Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum members.  Thanks to Battered Luggage and ORD to Anywhere for helping out with this!

Step 3 – Check the Price in Cash & Miles

Paying the full amount in American Airlines miles is usually a bad deal, though it could be worth it if you have lots of American Airlines miles.  But you can always select to pay with a fixed combination of 1,000 American Airlines miles and cash.

All you have to do is move the slider towards the left in the “Payment Options” tab which is in the payment field.  Again, you will see different rates, but the cash rate is virtually the same if you have a Citi American Airlines credit card or if you are an American Airlines elite member.

Note that you won’t get good rates if you don’t have a Citi American Airlines credit card or are not an elite member with American Airlines.

HIGHEST RATE FOR REGULAR MEMBERS

American Airlines Car Rental
1,000 Miles + $48 for Regular Members (Highest Price)

LOWER RATE FOR CITI AMERICAN AIRLINES CREDIT CARD HOLDERS

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1,000 Miles + $42 if you Have a Citi American Airlines Card

LOWEST RATE FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES ELITE MEMBERS

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1,000 Miles + $40 for American Airlines Elite Members

Step 4 – Check Taxes and Fees

You can estimate the amount of taxes and fees which you will pay at the rental counter (in ADDITION to the cash and points paid at the American Airlines website) by going directly to the rental car company website and searching for a similar rental.

Using the same example above, I go to the Budget car rental website and search for the same:

  • Car class (Economy)
  • Destination (Austin) and
  • Duration (2 days) as what I found on the American Airlines website.

The taxes and fees are ~$38 which means that I will have to pay around $38 in addition to the miles and cash which I pay on the American Airlines website.

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Find the Taxes & Fees on the Car Rental Website

 Step 5 – Calculate Your Total Cost

Calculate the total cost of the rental by including the:

  • Cash portion of the rental paid to American Airlines – $40 to $48
  • Value of the miles you use (I price each mile at 1.5 cents) – $15
  • Taxes and fees which you will pay at the rental counter – $38

Sometimes the American Airlines website will get you the best deal on a car rental, but not all the time.  And it does take a bit of work to compare the rates to other sites.

But it could be worth it – especially for international rentals.

Bottom Line

Using American Airlines miles can be a good value if you have the Citi American Airlines credit card or if you are an American Airlines elite member.

But you will have to pay taxes and fees at the counter when you use your American Airlines miles, so be sure to include that into your calculation!  And don’t forget the expensive cancellation fees.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Dear DD’s,

Using AA mileages for rental car might be a great option for me. But I’m a bit concerned about the hidden fees you mentioned in this post. I’ve just checked the estimated fees from Alamo for my trip, following your tip. But is there any possibility that the fees I’ll pay onsite will be significantly different from the estimates from the webpage of Alamo? Please let me know

I’m very unhappy with AAdvantage. They ask you to book a car but they are the only website I know that doesn’t even attempt to estimate taxes and fees. Basically, you risk paying $150 in order to book a car in order to log into another car rental website to see under that res number how much the rental cost will actually be. So you can blow 100,000 miles to book a minivan for 10 days, then end up paying $300 or more in taxes at the counter. If you don’t like it, AA allows you to redeposit your miles for $150. I called them and they basically said that’s tough…I told them they are the only booking engine I know of that doesn’t even attempt to estimate taxes. What a scheme. I asked them if they would allow a 24-hour free redeposit timeframe so that you could book, then go check the res in the car website to verify taxes and fees. They said no – they have to do “paperwork” to get AA to redeposit the miles. Sounds like they are stuck in the 1980’s.

Some time ago, I saw that AA offered car rental insurance (similar to CDW) for ~ $25 or $27 for a week but can’t find it on aa.com. Do you know how to find it? Yes, this is off subject.

I would like to pick up the rental car in one city and drop it off in another. It does not seem any of the companies that allow the use of Airline miles can accommodate that option. Any ideas?

Thanks.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Will – See the post on 1-way rentals.

Thanks for the quick reply! Yeah, I tried flashing the card last time but they weren’t too impressed. Have an SUV this time around (lot of pax/gear in tow), so probably not much to upgrade to, but the free GPS would be nice.

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