Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Citi is an MMS advertising partner.
Million Mile Secrets reader Chad commented:
Great website! Have it in my feedly subscription. I am having a hard time on strategy here. Only American flies out of my closest little airport so I have a business and personal citi advantage card and rack up miles on it. I also have an AMEX Platinum that I love because of the airline credit, lounge access, fine hotels, etc.
I have a lot of business expenses. Should I keep charging everything on the American Airlines cards for miles? Should I charge everything on the AMEX? What card should I get next? Thinking the SPG AMEX but how should I leverage it.
Needing to get some strategy here!
The Best Card for American Airlines Miles?
Chad has been earning American miles by putting his business & personal spending on his Citi American Airlines credit cards.
That may seem like the most logical thing to do to earn American Airlines miles, but it isn’t the best way to earn American Airlines miles for spending on a credit card!
The Citi American Airlines cards have the higher sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles, but aren’t the best cards to spend money on if you’re trying to get the most American Airlines cards.
The American Airlines business and personal cards earn only 1 American Ailrines mile per $1 spent on the cards. There is no spending bonus or additional miles for crossing a certain spending level.
Even the more expensive Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® (which Chad doesn’t have and comes with a $450 annual fee, but includes American Airlines lounge access) will only earn Chad 1 mile per $1 spent.
However, Chad should use his American Airlines card Chad to pay for his American Airlines flights because he will earn 2 American Airlines miles per $1 spent on the card.
But he shouldn’t use it for regular spending, because Chad could earn more American miles if he used a different card.
AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest
Chad has a lot of business & personal expenses so he can earn 25% more American Airlines miles if he uses either the Starwood personal or business card.
You get a 5,000 point bonus for every transfer of 20,000 or more Starwood points to American Airline. This means that Chad earns 1.25 air miles for every 1 Starwood point he transfers to American Airlines in increments of 20,000 points.
You get the 5,000 extra points to transfer to airlines whether you transfer 20,000 points or if you transfer 35,000 points in one transaction. So it is better to transfer in increments of 20,000 Starwood points (20,000, 40,000 or 60,000 points) to get the 5,000 point bonus.
Read this post for more information on transferring Starwood points to American Airlines and other airlines. Transfers aren’t instant and can take up to 4 weeks according to Starwood, but in my experience, they are usually complete within 10 days.
Chad would earn 1.25 miles for every $1 he spends on his Starwood credit cards. However, Chad may also want to keep his Citi American Airlines cards because he will earn 10% of his redeemed miles back (up to 10,000 miles), get 2 American Airlines miles per $1 spent on the card, and get 1 checked bag free if he books his American Airlines flights with his Citi American Airlines cards.
Even though it seems counter-intuitive, Chad earns more American Airlines miles by NOT using his American Airlines credit cards for regular spending, but by using a Starwood personal or business card!
That’s because he earns an extra 5,000 American Airlines miles for transferring Starwood hotel points in increments of 20,000 points to American Airlines.
So Chad earns 1.25 American Airlines miles for every $1 spent on his Starwood cards compared to 1 mile per $1 on his American Airline cards.