How American’s new flexible award policy makes its miles more valuable

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: How we make money.

Remember in August when American Airlines blazed a customer-friendly trail for legacy carriers by announcing that they’re eliminating change and cancellation fees? That was huge news, slated to begin on Jan. 1, 2021.

Changing American Airlines award flights can potentially cost hundreds of dollars per canceled trip. The freedom to speculatively book award flights with no repercussions of bailing on your trip later is freeing. The only catch to this announcement was that you’d have to cancel at least 60 days before your departure date — and only certain awards would qualify.

But American’s award change cancelation policies are getting much, much better. These new policies make American miles much more valuable and more enticing to hold onto an American Airlines credit card.

[ Subscribe to our newsletter to our for more award travel news and analysis ]

Book trips and cancel without consequence with American Airlines miles! (Photo by Ihor Pasternak/Shutterstock)

American Airlines announces fantastic award change policies

American Airline miles are extremely valuable for a few reasons:

  • American Airlines is the largest airline in the world (pre-pandemic, anyway — we’ll see how things shake out in a few months)
  • American Airlines partners with a ton of valuable airlines

Because of these two things, using American Airlines miles are easy to redeem. Not only can you use American miles for American Airlines flights, but you can use them for flights on their airline partners, too. You can go just about anywhere on earth for free with American miles!

American Airlines has now unveiled new change and cancellation policies to award flights. Let’s take a look.

Cancel as late as your departure date

American Airlines no longer requires you to change/cancel your award 60 days or more from your departure date — you can now change as late as the day of departure without penalty! This makes American Airlines the most valuable and flexible airline miles of all U.S. legacy airlines (though note that Southwest has offered this policy for years).

Cancel all award flights for free

American’s previously proposed free change policies were only valid for domestic flights and select short-haul international flights. This is no longer the case! All international flights now qualify, including flights with partner airlines. Even those rigid no-change-no-cancellation Economy Web Special tickets will now be cancelable.

This could potentially save you up to $750 per ticket when canceling international award flights. This policy tweak is almost too good to be true.

Changes are effective immediately

Instead of a Jan. 1, 2021, launch date for these changes, American Airlines is letting you take advantage right away.

How this makes American miles more valuable

While American already had some of the better airline award charts, this change makes its miles so much more flexible. As any points and miles traveler would know, saver award availability can appear and disappear in a heartbeat. Now, you can book any award you like to ensure you can lock in that saver award availability to get the lowest price.

If you see an award you want but aren’t sure if you can get the time off of work, you can book without hesitation knowing full well that you can easily get your miles back.

Bottom line

With these latest changes from American Airlines, you can start searching for your dream trip and book it with miles if you find some cheap flights! There’s no reason to hesitate due to pandemic restrictions, as you won’t be charged to redeposit your miles if you need to change or cancel later.

Read our post about how to earn AA miles. You can subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll let you know if we see great award flight sales to popular destinations. We’ll email you once per day with tips and tricks you can use to get the most from your miles and points.

Featured photo by CaseyMartin/Shutterstock.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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! :)

Join the Discussion!

Comments are closed.