All the ways to earn American Airlines miles in 2020

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American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, so it’s no surprise that American Airlines miles are among the most useful – and easiest to earn.

While the value of American Airlines miles can vary widely, there still is an official AA award chart (that’s loosely followed at times). And as part of the oneworld alliance, there are plenty of ways to use American Airlines miles for both domestic and international travel. With American Airlines miles, you can reach luxurious destinations like Hawaii and the South Pacific, visit historic cities in Europe or explore exotic spots in Asia and South America.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or want to top-up your account for a dream vacation, you have lots of options. The fastest way to earn American Airlines miles is from welcome bonuses on some of the best airline credit cards, such as the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.

But there are lots of other ways to earn American Airlines miles. Some might surprise you.

American Airlines miles took Joseph to Peru for a 48-mile hike to Machu PIcchu. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler)

How to earn American Airlines miles

The easiest way to collect American Airlines miles is by earning welcome offers from the best travel credit cards. Citibank and Barclays each issue personal American Airlines credit cards and cobranded American Airlines small business credit cards. Each one varies in terms of welcome bonus, annual fee and miles earned in bonus categories.

Here’s a round-up with the important details. Be sure to check our in-depth reviews of each card for more information.

American Airlines Credit CardsWelcome BonusMinimum SpendAnnual Fee
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®65,000 American Airlines milesafter spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
$99, waived the first 12 months
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®50,000 American Airlines milesafter spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.$99, waived the first 12 months
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card10,000 American Airlines miles + $50 statement creditafter spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening$0
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®50,000 American Airlines milesafter spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening$450
Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®Up to 75,000 American Airlines miles- 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
- 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card
$95
Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®60,000 American Airlines milesFirst purchase within first 90 days of account opening$99

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card, and Barclays Aviator cards has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Here’s an easy guide to the Citi American Airlines application rules.

CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

For a limited time when you apply for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®,  you’ll earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. The card also comes with:

  • 2x American Airlines miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x American Airlines miles on certain telecommunications, rental car merchants and at gas stations
  • 1 American Airlines mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation (domestic American Airlines flights only)
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • 25% savings on inflight purchases, including Wi-Fi
  • Companion Certificate after you spend $30,000 or more in purchases during your card year and renew your card (account must remain open 45 days after card anniversary)

The $99 annual fee with this card is waived for the first 12 months. Have a look at the full list of CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select benefits and perks to decide if it’s worth it for you. And read our CitiBusiness AAdvantage review more for details.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card

When you apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, you’ll earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after making $2,500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

You’ll get:

  • 2x American Airlines miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2x American Airlines miles at gas stations and restaurants
  • One American Airlines miles per dollar spent on other purchases
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation (domestic flights only)
  • Preferred boarding for you and up to four travel companions on the same reservation
  • 25% off eligible inflight purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights
  • Reduced Mileage Awards – get discounts up to 7,500 miles round-trip on award flights to certain airports

There’s a $99 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived for the first 12 months. The Citi American Airlines Platinum Select is worth it if you’ll use perks like a free first checked bag and preferred boarding.

Here are all the benefits and perks of the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select. And be sure to read our Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select review.

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

The American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card comes with a 10,000 American Airlines mile bonus and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. It offers 2 American Airlines miles for every $1 spent at grocery stores, which is a big expense for lots of us. There aren’t many credit cards with no annual fee with a bonus on spending in this category. Check out all the Citi American Airlines MileUp benefits and perks.

Plus, current Citi American Airlines cardholders will be happy to know that the MileUp card is exempt from the welcome bonus restrictions on other Citi American Airlines credit cards. This means that you are more likely to be eligible for this offer. Here’s how to decide if the American Airlines MileUp card is worth it for you.

You can read our Citi American Airlines MileUp review for more information.

Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

You’ll earn 50,000 American Airlines miles when you’re approved for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.

You’ll also get:

  • American Airlines Admirals Club membership (worth up to $650) – access to Admirals Club lounges when on a same-day American Airlines flight for you and your immediate family (spouse / domestic partner and children under 18) or up to two guests traveling with you
  • Authorized users (free to add!) can also access Admirals Club lounges (without the primary cardholder)
  • Up to $100 TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit (every five years)
  • First checked bag free (for you and up to eight companions traveling on the same reservation) on American Airlines domestic itineraries
  • Priority check-in, security (where available), and boarding
  • 10,000 elite-qualifying miles if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year
  • 2x American Airlines miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 American Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees

This card has a $450 annual fee. It’s the easiest way to get American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access. Read our Citi AAdvantage Executive review for all the details.

Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®

American Airlines offers a business card through both Citi and Barclays. Both cards offer similar benefits, but there are a few slight differences. With the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard, you can earn up to 75,000 American Airlines miles:

  • 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card

You’ll also receive:

  • 2x American Airlines miles on eligible office supply, telecom and car rental purchases
  • 5% American Airlines mileage bonus earned every year after your account anniversary date based on the total number of miles earned using your card
  • Earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year

This card has a $95 annual fee.

Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®

Some benefits include:

  • Welcome offer of 60,000 American Airlines bonus miles after making your first purchase within 90 days and paying the annual fee
  • 2x American Airlines bonus miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • One American Airlines bonus miles per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free

This card has a $99 annual fee.

The information for the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red and Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business cards have been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Earn American Airlines miles indirectly

Hotel points

You can earn hotel points in a large number of programs that can be transferred to American Airlines.

 

The rates are terrible, frankly, with the exception of Marriott. Marriott points transfer to airlines at a 3:1 ratio. Additionally, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles for every increment of 60,000 points you transfer. In other words, 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 American Airlines miles.

The easiest way to earn Marriott points is with welcome offers from cards that earn Marriott points, like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. Just note that you can only earn the welcome bonus on American Express personal or business cards once per person, per lifetime.

More ways to earn American Airlines miles

Fly With American Airlines or certain partners

You will earn American Airlines miles when you fly on American-marketed flights. Miles are earned based on the cash price of the ticket and the amount you’ll earn depends on your American Airlines status:

  • AAdvantage member – 5 miles per dollar
  • Gold member – 7 miles per dollar (40% bonus)
  • Platinum member – 8 miles per dollar (60% bonus)
  • Platinum Pro member – 9 miles per dollar (80% bonus)
  • Executive Platinum member – 11 miles per dollar (120% bonus)

You can earn a maximum of 75,000 miles per ticket.

All the Ways to Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles in 2018
A handy chart showing how American Airlines miles are earned with cash tickets

You can also earn American Airlines miles when flying with certain partners. However, the routes and earning rates vary depending on the airline. So it’s best to check out the specific rules for each partner here.

Dining rewards

That’s right, you can regularly earn bonus American Airlines miles when you link your rewards credit cards or debit cards with American Airlines’ dining program and visit participating restaurants. All of the travel-related dining programs share the same network and you can only enroll your card with one partner at a time. That said, you can link your card with American Airlines’ dining rewards if you want extra miles for your next award.

And there are often promotions to earn a nice chunk of bonus miles when you spend a certain amount at a participating restaurant within a certain period from enrolling.

Book a cruise

When you book through the American Airlines cruise website you can earn bonus miles – the bonus is often as high as 100,000 American Airlines miles. This could be an easy way to rack up extra miles. But, before you book, be sure to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Rent a car

You can earn at least 500 American Airlines miles every time you rent a car from Alamo, Enterprise, National or any one of the airline’s rental car partners.

Miles you’ll earn with each qualifying rental:

  • 500 miles – AAdvantage members
  • 750 miles – Citi® / AAdvantage® cardholders and AAdvantage® Aviator® MasterCard® cardholders
  • 1,000 miles – Platinum Pro, Platinum and Gold members
  • 1,250 miles – Executive Platinum members

You can even get discounts on Avis and Budget using the provided discount codes.

Partner programs and surveys

Earning American Airlines miles to take surveys through e-Rewards is by invitation only, so I wasn’t able to see the details. These surveys are usually time-consuming and don’t award many miles. But if you fill them out while you’re watching TV or relaxing, you might enjoy sharing your opinions. The trick is to get an invite from a current e-Rewards member. Or you could try contacting them directly and ask to become a member.

Additionally, you can can earn miles by parking with other partner for activities like, moving or selling a house, setting up a bank account, enrolling in LifeLock, and more. You can even earn miles for donating to causes like Stand Up To Cancer.

Check out these links for full details:

eShopping

You can earn miles every time you shop through the AAdvantage eShopping portal and directly through participating retail partners. Every partner has a different going rate for miles per dollar spent but you can often find some nice bonuses. For example, when you sign-up for a 12-week Wall Street Journal subscription through the portal, you’ll earn an additional 1,000 American Airlines miles (these offers change frequently).

One benefit of shopping through online portals is the opportunity to double dip. You’ll not only earn the bonus American Airlines miles but you’ll earn credit card rewards as well. Just make sure you’re using a shopping portal comparison tool, like CashBack Monitor, to compare rates with other online portals easily.

Bonus offers

The American Airlines bonus offers page lists other ways to earn extra miles. One deal that stands out is American Airlines’ partnership with Hyatt. Once you link your accounts, you’ll earn one American Airlines bonus mile on eligible Hyatt spending and if you have a certain level of American Airlines status, you can fast-track your way to Hyatt status. Take a look at the offers and see if any make sense for you.

Earn American Airlines miles by booking hotel stays

If you want to earn airline miles when you book through hotels like Marriott, American Airlines has you covered.  You can earn miles for qualifying stays with hotel when you book with American Airlines’ hotel partners. You can earn up to 10,000 miles each night using American Airlines hotels or PointsHound. Also earn 2x miles with Marriott.

Vacations

Need a getaway? You can earn American Airlines miles by booking a vacation through the American Airlines vacations portal. Rates vary and change often, so check back frequently for deals.

Buy miles

You can always buy American Airlines miles if you’re close to an award. You’re allowed to purchase up to 150,000 American Airlines miles per calendar year in increments of 1,000 miles, starting at 2,000 miles. There are also frequent bonuses for purchasing miles. It’s not uncommon to see an 80% bonus.

Buying miles should be treated the same as converting hotel points – only worthwhile in specific situations, like if you’re a few miles shy of an award flight of your dreams.

Bottom line

There are tons of ways to earn American Airlines miles from the welcome bonuses of the best credit cards for travel and their ongoing spending, such as the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®. You can earn them indirectly by transferring points from hotel programs like Marriott, too.

Beyond that, American Airlines has even more opportunities to earn miles with partners, including dining, taking a cruise or renting a car. You can also purchase miles if you want them even sooner. Between all of these ways to earn American Airlines miles, you’ll be on your next adventure sooner than you think.

Tell me your favorite way to earn (and use) American Airlines miles. And subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tricks to earning miles and points.

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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