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What Are American Airlines Miles Worth? Here’s Your Quick (and VERY Satisfying) Answer

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What Are American Airlines Miles Worth? Here’s Your Quick (and VERY Satisfying) Answer

Joseph HostetlerWhat Are American Airlines Miles Worth? Here’s Your Quick (and VERY Satisfying) AnswerMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET:  You’ll often get WAY more value per mile (often DOUBLE) when you use them to book Business Class seats instead of coach.

Limited Time Offers: Earn 60,000 miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard or 70,000 miles with the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard after meeting minimum spend requirements.

When I give friends the “trust me, you should be collecting American Airlines miles” speech, their repeated question is:  WHAT ARE THEY WORTH, MAN?  JUST GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER.

I feel their frustration when I fail to give them a satisfying answer.  Pinning an exact value on American Airlines miles is literally impossible.  So instead of giving value in dollar amounts, I say things like:

  • This card’s sign-up bonus is worth a visit to the Eiffel Tower
  • This card’s sign-up bonus is worth a visit to the Great Wall of China
  • This card’s sign-up bonus is worth a visit to your gramma’s for Thanksgiving

That gladdens them right up.

Let’s take a quick look at how American Airlines miles work so you can see what they’re worth, both in money and memories.

American Airlines miles value is high, particularly because American Airlines is partnered with TONS of different airlines, so you can reach just about any area of earth

American Airlines Miles Value

First, the basics.

American Airlines charges a flat amount of miles based on the “region” to which you’re traveling (when there are “saver” award seats available).

That’s cool, because it’s easier to figure out how many miles you’ll need for the trip you have in mind.  Because the number of miles you need for your trip stays the same regardless of the cash price American Airlines charges, the actual cash value of your miles will fluctuate with prices.

Here are 3 super quick examples to help you understand!

Example 1:  Round-trip Coach Flight to Zurich

American Airlines charges 30,000 miles one way in coach to fly from anywhere in the US to anywhere in Europe.  That means you can book a flight from New York to Portugal for the same price as a flight from San Francisco to Rome.

The example below is the cost of a flight from Indianapolis to Zurich in September.  You’ll pay 60,000 miles round trip for a coach flight, plus taxes and fees amounting to $118.

 

The cash value of the ticket for those same days is $1,124.  So, to figure out how much your American Airlines miles are worth in this situation, here’s the math: ($1,124 cash price – $118 in taxes) / 60,000 miles.

Value per American Airlines mile:  1.68 cents.  Also, memories you’ll think about every day for the rest of your life.

Example 2:  One-way Business-Class Flight to Paris

You’ll often get the most value for your American Airlines miles by using them for fancy Business Class seats!  I’ve used American Airlines miles for Business Class seats between Seoul and Los Angeles, as well as from Lima to Miami.  One-way Business Class flights cost as little as 57,500 miles!  That might sound like a lot, but let’s examine the math again.

A business-class flight between New Orleans and Paris costs 57,500 American Airlines miles and $5.60.

 

The cash value of a business-class ticket on this same day would cost $2,300.  So, to find the value, do this:   ($2,300 cash price – $5.60 in taxes) / 57,500 miles.

Value per American Airlines mile:  4 cents.  And thousands of Instagram likes.

Example 3:  Round-Trip Domestic Coach Flight

You live in Miami, but you’re having a family reunion in Seattle.  NO problem.

You can expect to book round-trip domestic flights from anywhere to anywhere for a maximum of 25,000 miles.  A flight from Miami to Seattle costs 25,000 miles and $11.20 in taxes.

The cash price of this ticket is $369.  So let’s figure out the value of your American Airlines miles: ($369 cash price – $11.20 in taxes) / 25,000 miles.

Value per American Airlines mile:  1.4 cents.  And squeezes and smooches from your grandmother.

As you can see, American Airlines miles value vary dramatically.  I find it’s best to think of the value in terms of travel goals instead of dollar signs.  If an American Airlines card is offering a “60,000 mile sign-up bonus after meeting spending requirements,” you can read that as “One free round-trip coach flight to anywhere in Europe after meeting spending requirements!

Above all, you know you’re getting a good deal with your American Airlines miles when you’re checking off bucket list items, making memories with friends and family, and satiating your wanderlust.  Who actually cares about the value per mile?

Here are our other articles to learn more about American Airlines miles:

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American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

  • Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • No Annual Fee*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services*
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
  • Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*

More Info

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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I spent 110K AA miles for our family of four vacation to Grand Cayman this summer on a bonus award rate from PHL>GCM. Plus I got 10K AA miles back with my Barclays Aviator Red so my value worked out to about 2.4-cents per mile. Flights are going for about $2400 / 100K Miles after 10% rebate capped at 10K.

Sounds like you’re getting great use from those miles, well done! 🙂