American Airlines Miles: 7 Little-Known Tips to Using Them Effectively

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As the world’s largest airline, lots of folks collect American Airlines miles, and typically redeem them for domestic coach award flights.

While it’s straightforward to redeem your miles on the American Airlines website, there are ways to get even more “mileage” out of them!  (Forgive the pun, but I had to.)

You can save miles, fly in more comfort, and unlock better routes with a few simple tricks.  And in addition to flying, you can earn extra American Airlines miles with these credit cards:

They’re valuable, so you want to save and earn as many as you can!  I’ll share my tips for using American Airlines miles to get the biggest bang for your rewards.

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

Use American Airlines Miles Towards Off-Peak MileSAAver Travel to Save Thousands of Miles Over Normal Award Prices
When You Use American Airlines Miles Effectively, You Can Get More Travel and Value From Them. Here Are My Tips for Using American Airlines Miles

7 Tips for Using American Airlines Miles

Ultimate Guide: How to Use American Airlines Miles

If you’re ready to take a deep dive, be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to American Airlines miles to get the most from them.

In this post, I’ll share 7 quick tips to get you started.  If these are all you learn, you’ll still be ahead of the average flyer.  And all of them only take a few minutes to put into practice!

1.   Check “Nonstop” to Unlock the Best Routes

Don’t count on the American Airlines site to show you the best routes for your city pairs.

Want to fly from Dallas to Puerto Vallarta via Chicago?  Talk about backtracking.  I hate flying north to fly more south if I don’t have to.

The Initial Search Results Look So Promising. But Hiding Within Are Inconvenient Connecting Flights

But there’s a useful tool hiding in plain sight.  On the left side where it says, “Number of Stops,” click the little dropdown menu and select “Nonstop Only.”

I Swear This Little Button Is a Lifesaver

You’ll usually see the calendar colors change immediately.  Now you can isolate the best flight options based on your dates.  And eliminate longer flights before you even start clicking around.

This little box has saved me so much time.  It’s so simple, but so effective.  And helpful if you want to redeem your miles for short flights – you can more easily see what’s available.

2.   Pay Fewer Miles for Short Flights

If you’re flying within the mainland US or Canada, you’ll only pay 7,500 American Airlines miles for flights 500 miles or less.

That’s a savings of 5,000 miles off the price of longer flights.  So you might consider redeeming your miles for short flights, as these can be some of the most expensive cash tickets.

3.   If You Have an American Airlines Credit Card, Save 1,000s of Miles on Award Flights

Reduced Mileage Awards

If you’ve never heard of Reduced Mileage Awards, they’re worth a look, especially if you live near a smaller airport with American Airlines flights.

Depending which American Airlines credit card you have, you can save up to 7,500 miles on round-trip domestic award flights.

Reduced Mileage Awards Are Discounts on Award Flights That Change Monthly, and Only Available With Certain American Airlines Credit Cards

These awards change each month based on your destination.  The best way to see what’s available is to check the official page.  You must call to book these awards.  But saving 7,500 American Airlines miles is definitely worth it!

All of these cards get you the highest 7,500-mile discount on participating award flights:

This is an easy way to save, especially if you want to book multiple award tickets!

4.   Use American Airlines Miles for Award Flights on Partner Airlines

In the same way you can earn American Airlines miles on several airlines, you can also redeem them on lots of partner airline flights, too!

You Can Use Your American Airlines Miles to Visit Bora Bora on Air Tahiti Nui, and Many Other Airlines. That Gives You 1,000s More Destinations to Visit!

The list includes all the airlines listed above, and add these airlines to the list of award flight redemptions:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Cape Air
  • Seaborne Airlines

That’s helpful if you want to travel on certain niche routes.

You are NOT limited to flying on American Airlines when it’s time to redeem your miles.  By taking advantage of partnerships, you really can travel all over the world.

5.   Know Which Partners You Can’t Book Online

You can redeem your miles directly on the American Airlines website for flights on American Airlines and most of their partners.  But not all of them.

You Can Use American Airlines to Fly on Japan Airlines, but You Won’t Always Find Their Flights on the American Airlines Website

You can book every partner except:

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM Airlines

The easiest way to find award seats on these airlines is to look on the British Airways website instead.  It’s not as user-friendly, but it works!

For example, I found an award flight from Chicago to Tokyo on the American Airlines site – but only on American Airlines.  When I checked British Airways, I saw the same American Airlines flight, and another option to fly on Japan Airlines.  The flight times are even similar.

Given the option, I’d definitely fly Japan Airlines instead!

If you want to use American Airlines miles to fly these 3 airlines, you’ll have to call to book the award.  But because you aren’t able to book them online, they’ll waive the award ticketing fee.

Knowing these partners unlocks more of Asia and South America to you!

6.   Choose a Partner, Especially If the Price Is the Same

On that note, you’ll often pay the same price to fly an American Airlines partner.  Not always, but usually.

All else being equal, I’d choose a partner airline 9 times out of 10.

Would You Rather Fly Iberia or American Airlines? For Me, It’s No Contest

For example, a non-stop coach award from New York to Madrid costs the same price, whether you fly on Iberia or American Airlines.  Foreign airlines usually treat you like a human being, even on flights departing the US.  And sometimes you even get meals and drinks included in coach!

I’ve actually had excellent experiences flying American Airlines internationally in Business or First Class.  But for coach flights, I’d probably pick a partner airline, especially if the price is the same.  The prices are clearly displayed, so you can decide which option is best for you.

7.   Earn American Airlines Miles When You Fly on Partner Airlines

American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, and has independent partnerships with other airlines.  That means you can earn American Airlines when you fly on any of the 13 oneworld airlines, as well as member-elect Royal Air Maroc and connection partner Fiji Airways.

The 13 oneworld members are:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7
  • SriLankan Airlines
Earn American Airlines Miles on Any of These 13 Airlines, Plus Royal Air Maroc, and Fiji Airways

In addition to these, you can also earn American Airlines miles when you fly:

Note you might only earn miles on certain flights.  Click each link above to see the specifics of each independent partnership.

When you book flights on these airlines, you’ll see a drop-down menu to credit your American Airlines loyalty account, usually at check out.

You aren’t limited to earning American Airlines miles only on their flights – you can earn them when you fly on 20 airlines!

Bottom Line

Amp up the power of your American Airlines miles with these 7 tips:

  • Check the “Nonstop” box to isolate the best routes when you search for awards
  • Save 5,000 miles on award flights under 500 miles within the mainland US and Canada
  • Remember to check for Reduced Mileage Awards to save 7,500 miles on domestic round-trip flights and call to book
  • Redeem American Airlines miles on 20+ airlines to 1,000s of destinations
  • Remember to look on the British Airways site to find award seats on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and LATAM Airlines
  • Fly on many partner flights for the same number of miles – be sure to check!
  • Earn American Airlines miles when you fly on 20 airline partners

Do you use other tricks to use your American Airlines miles?  Let us know in the comments!

Check out these posts to learn more about American Airlines miles:

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

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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