Earn an Award Flight on American Airlines Without Flying or Credit Cards!

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Earn an Award Flight on American Airlines Without Flying or Credit Cards!

Go to Travel GalEarn an Award Flight on American Airlines Without Flying or Credit Cards!Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Lyn writes about how to fly nearly free on her GotoTravelGal.com blog and has also developed an online course that teaches you the simplest ways to earn free flights in the US.  I’ve asked her to share tips on how you can earn enough miles to get a free round-trip within the US without signing-up for a credit card or ever stepping on a plane.

Lyn:   When it comes to flying almost free, I like to focus on the simplest and easiest techniques.  Sometimes people are intimidated about collecting enough miles to pay for an award flight, but it’s my goal to show you how easy it can be.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
In 7 Steps, You Can Earn Enough American Airlines Miles for a Round-Trip Ticket Within the US

While credit card sign-up bonuses definitely make the process shorter and simpler, you can earn enough miles to fly nearly free without signing up for a credit card OR flying.  Let me show you how.

7 Steps to Earn a Free US Round-Trip on American Airlines Without Credit Cards or Paid Flights

To fly within the mainland United States, you need 12,500 American miles each way for destinations over 500 miles apart, or 25,000 miles total for a round-trip.  Of course, you will still have to pay the mandatory government security fee of ~$6 each way.

The good news is American Airlines offers lots of ways to earn miles outside of credit card sign-ups.  It will take you a little longer, but it’s possible – and easy!

Step 1.   Book a Hotel

American Airlines recently launched a hotel booking site that lets you to earn up to 10,000 miles per night when booking more than a million properties around the world.  When searching on the site, look for the American Airlines logo, which shows the total number of miles you can earn.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Book Your Next Hotel Through the American Airlines Hotel Booking Website and Earn up to 10,000 Miles

For example, for a 3-night October stay in Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, you can earn 14,000 American miles.

Be sure to enter your American Airlines loyalty number when checking out to ensure your miles are credited to your account after your stay.

We’re going to assume you can earn at least 10,000 miles for 1 hotel stay.

TOTAL EARNED = 10,000 miles

Step 2.   Go Shopping!

Who doesn’t love this step?!  Now, I don’t want you to go and buy a bunch of stuff you don’t need, but you can earn miles for buying everyday items you’d be purchasing anyway.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Start Grocery Shopping at the American eShopping Mall and Earn Miles Toward a Free Flight

By starting your stopping at the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, you can earn between 1 and 25 miles per dollar you spend.  There are more than 850 stores in American Airlines’ online mall so there are a LOT to choose from!  Popular retailers include:

  • Best Buy
  • Home Depot
  • Kohl’s
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • Dick’s Sporting Good
  • Lowe’s

Of course, the holidays are a good time to take advantage of the portal when buying gifts, but you can still earn miles on regular purchases like groceries.  If you shop at Target or Walmart, why not purchase your groceries ahead online and then pick them up at the store?  Not only will you earn free miles, but it saves you time, too!

Watch out for bonuses!  American Airlines had a recent deal where you could earn an extra 2,000 miles through their Back to School bonus.  There are often special deals like this throughout the year, like Valentine’s or the holidays, so keep an eye out.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Take AAdvantage of American’s Regular Shopping Portal Bonuses, Like Back to School, for Even More Miles

To earn your miles, visit AAdvantageShopping.com, search for your store and then click through to begin your shopping.  Your miles will appear in your account within 4 to 8 weeks of purchase.  It’s a good idea to keep track of your shopping so you can check in after 8 weeks if your miles are not credited.  I offer a handy tool to help you do this in my online Frugal Flyer course.

Assuming you can earn a 2,000-mile bonus, at least through grocery and other everyday spending at Target or Walmart, you should have 2,500 miles (2,000 bonus miles + 1 mile per dollar for $500 spent).

TOTAL EARNED = 2,500 miles

Step 3.   Read for Cheap

Also within the AAdvantage eShopping Mall are offers to subscribe to various publications for cheap and earn a heap of miles.  Here are your current options.

Note:   These are limited-time offers that may change.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Earn 1,000 American Miles Each for Subscribing to the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and the New York Times

Barron’s – 1,000 miles

When you subscribe for $12 for 12 weeks, you can earn 1,000 miles so long as your subscription is active for at least 45 days.

Wall Street Journal – 1,000 miles

The Wall Street Journal offers the same deal: $12 for 12 weeks.  Get your 1,000 miles as long as your subscription is active for 30 days.

New York Times – 1,000 miles

Get 1,000 miles for subscribing to the New York Times for 90 days for $7.50 per month (total $22.50).  You can cancel after 90 days.

Texture – 1,500 miles

Texture is an app that gives you access to digital subscriptions to hundreds of popular magazines.  Get 3 months for $10 and leave your account active for 90 days to earn your miles.  Only 1 subscription per household.

Simply search for each offer within the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, and then click through to place your order and earn your miles.

TOTAL EARNED = 4,500 miles

Step 4.   Dine out!

AAdvantage Dining is a program that lets you earn miles for eating at your favorite restaurants.  You simply register any card – credit or debit – that you would use to pay for your meal and dine at a participating restaurant (they tend to be locally-owned versus chains) to earn up to 5 miles per dollar.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Eat at Your Favorite Restaurants and Earn American Miles Automatically

If you are new to the program, you can earn a bonus 3,000 miles in the first 30 days.  You’ll get 1,500 miles by eating at your first participating restaurant and spending at least $25 in the first 30 days.  Then, you can earn another 500 miles for each of your next 3 visits if completed within the first 30 days.  You must spend at least $1 at each establishment and only 1 restaurant visit per day.

TOTAL EARNED: 3,000 bonus miles + 100 miles ($25 each at 4 restaurants) = 3,100 miles

Step 5.   Order Flowers

I bet there are a few people in your life who would love to receive flowers!  Spend at least $50 on 2 flower arrangements from FTD.com and score 20 miles for every $1 you spend.  To shop online, start at this link or order by phone by calling 800-SEND-FTD and mention promotion code “29697″.  You’ll also need your American Airlines number to receive your miles.

TOTAL EARNED: $100 x 20 miles = 2,000 miles

Step 6.   Make a Donation!

Donate to Susan G. Komen, Stand up to Cancer, or the National Foundation for Cancer Research and earn 10 miles for every dollar you contribute.

Earn An Award Flight On American Airlines Without Flying Or Credit Cards
Donate to 1 of 3 Charities and Earn 10 American Miles per Dollar

Start here to make your donation and earn your miles.

TOTAL EARNED: $100 donation x 10 miles = 1,000 miles

Step 7.   Buy Restaurant Gift Certificates

Restaurant.com is a service that lets you buy discounted restaurant gift certificates that never expire.  For example, you can purchase $25 gift certificates for $10.  Starting your purchase at the AAdvantage eShopping Mall and search for “Restaurants.com“.

When you click through the link, you earn 12 miles per $1 spent.  Purchase $175 in gift certificates to restaurants you regularly visit, which saves you $105, to earn 2,100 miles!  Be sure not to use outside discount codes or you may not get your miles.

TOTAL EARNED: $175 x 12 miles =  2,100 miles

In 7 steps, we’ve reached our goal of 25,000 American miles, which you can redeem for 1 free roundtrip ticket in the US!  Where will you go?

Bottom Line

While it requires a little more time and effort, it’s certainly possible to rack up 25,000+ American Airlines miles to redeem for 1 round-trip ticket within the US.

To get step-by-step instruction – and tons of helpful tracking tools – for flying almost free around the U.S. on major airlines like Delta, Southwest, United and American, check out my Frugal Flyer course.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Yes, all this seems so simple and very little cost but if you really investigate these options you will quickly see things are not as easy or as cheap as they appear. For example, buying flowers through the AA portal is very tempting as the companies often offer double digit bonus miles. I have done this often in the past but recently decided to check the price of my item outside the portal and “surprise” the total cost was a lot cheaper than using the portal. So, essentially you are buying your miles by paying a higher price. Second, the dining option…yes it’s fine if you live in a big city near a AA hub as there are literally hundreds of restaurants in the system. However, you will find that outside those areas, the restaurants are often few and far between and in both cases, you will be hard pressed to find a popular or chain dining establishment as they don’t need to promote their business in this fashion. Lastly, who wants AA miles anyways….they have made it so difficult to use your miles, especially on Business Class and First Class seats that it’s not very productive to collect them versus United. All in my humble opinion!