The American Airlines SimplyMiles 5x bonus offer is just about the only thing that’s been on my mind for the past few days.
(Update 12:08pm Eastern Time 12/14/21: Unsurprisingly, it looks like American Airlines has pulled that offer early. Many members were completely unable to log in for an hour or so and now the banner advertising the 5x promotion is gone. At this point, we expect it to be honored for those who got in before it was pulled).
For those who missed it, SimplyMiles
is was offering an additional five times the stated reward on top of the standard earnings for their card-linked offers for a limited time (the official end date is December 27th but the offer could be pulled at any minute — even perhaps in the time between writing this post and publication). That’s not 5 extra miles, but five times the rewards. The headline offer at the moment is was 240 miles per dollar donated to a specific charity (which American Airlines confirmed to View from the Wing is not a mistake), but there were tons of other great offers.
The excitement around that 240x offer has generated a lot of buzz and created a lot of questions about the American Airlines SimplyMiles program. This guide attempts to answer many of the most common questions and we will add to it as we gather additional information.
What is American Airlines SimplyMiles?
SimplyMiles is a card-linked program that awards American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Think of it like Amex Offers or Chase Offers but for Mastercards and awarding American Airlines miles.
What card do I need to sign up for SimplyMiles?
Of critical importance, you do not need an American Airlines Mastercard. Almost any valid Mastercard can be used to sign up for SimplyMiles. When the program launched a couple of years ago, you needed to have an American Airlines Mastercard to join, but that is no longer necessary. The interface suggests that you can then link a maximum of three Mastercards to your SimplyMiles account. I’ve seen reports of people having more than three cards linked (perhaps the restriction was put in place after some people had more cards linked? I’m not sure).
You need to enter a card number to join. Then, you can go to the “Profile” section of your account to add more cards.
It is worth noting that some members who have an AAdvantage Mastercard linked have reported offer terms in rare instances indicating that they must use their AAdvantage Mastercard to trigger a particular offer. For instance, many users who have an AAdvantage Mastercard linked report that the current Best Buy offer says that they must use that AAdvantage Mastercard. On the other hand, neither my wife nor I have an AAdvantage Mastercard linked (though she does have one) and neither of us see that language requiring the use of the AAdvantage Mastercard.
Offers with those card-specific terms are few and far between and I am not sure whether they are enforced. Note also that some offers say they are only open to US Mastercard holders. I am more likely to believe that requirement because of what I imagine are tracking limitations.
How do you sync SimplyMiles offers to your card(s)?
Once you link cards to the program, you sync offers to your cards in a way similar to how you would sync Amex Offers or Chase Offers: you log in, find the offer you want, and connect it to your card(s). Activation is a one-and-done; one click adds it to any/all of the linked Mastercards in your account.
Once you have synced an offer to your cards, you use your card at the the retailer in question to meet the spend requirement and get the miles. According to the SimplyMiles FAQs, miles typically post to your SimplyMiles account within 3-5 business days but can take up to 15 business days. To my knowledge, nobody has seen either base nor bonus miles show up since the 5x promotion began at the end of last week, but I expect some of us may see miles before this week is over.
Do shipping and taxes count toward the purchase threshold to trigger an American Airlines SimplyMiles offer?
Based on comments I’ve read, unlike some other card-linked programs like Amex Offers and Chase Offers, I think that in at least some cases you will need to meet the spend requirements for an offer based on your purchase total before tax and shipping. I’d expect that sort of thing to be especially true in situations like the wine deals where a minimum $30 purchase is required and the site offers 6 bottles of wine for $29.95. In that case, I would expect to need to find some other add-on or potentially not receive the miles until the second shipment ships in that sort of situation. I’m not sure if tax and/or shipping may help you meet the spend requirement with some retailers, but I expect it can vary some. I’d expect shipping and tax not to count on wine clubs, meal delivery kits, and mail-order steaks or flowers whereas they might count at a site like Best Buy, CVS, or Target (but if we’re talking about a difference of $5 or $10, I’d probably just make sure my purchase met the threshold pre-tax / shipping).
Will the incredible 5x promo run as advertised?
Update: As of about noon Eastern time on 12/14/21, the SimplyMiles site has come back up after being down for about an hour and the banner advertising this offer is now gone. Information below applied before the offer was pulled. Now we wait to hopefully see American Airlines honor the promotion as written.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is about whether the currently-advertised offer for 5x rewards will actually pay out as we expect.
There are two main questions to answer here — one can be answered easily and the other answer feels less clear (until you look at American’s own wording):
- Does this mean an extra 5 miles per dollar or 5 times the stated reward?
- Which merchants are “participating merchants”?
The first question is easy to answer: American Airlines was completely explicit in the example they sent via email to members: this promotion awards five times the stated reward in addition to the stated reward. They gave an example of an offer for 100 miles on a purchase of $30 or more and said that it would earn a total of 600 miles (100 base miles plus 5 times 100). This is directly from their email:
I am fully confident that American knows what they are offering and the promotion means a multiple of five times the state reward.
I am somewhat less confident that I know what a “participating merchant” is. On the one hand, the wording above from the email is plainly clear: it says “on every offer site-wide“. I have taken American at their word and made purchases expecting 5x on every offer as they outlined it.
But given the fact that this offer has lasted for days with reports of people donating upwards of $20K or more at 240 miles per dollar, I am becoming more skeptical about whether every offer will indeed come with the extra 5x. To be clear, based on what American has said, I expect they should. However, I don’t know how we’ll know when the supply of miles has been exhausted. Last time around in 2019, they pulled the offer at noon a few days before it was scheduled to end. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one get pulled with no notice sooner rather than later.
Be sure to refresh your SimplyMiles login to make sure that the 5x banner is still there at the top before you shop. I assume that will be an indication that the offer is not yet exhausted.
Do you have to click through SimplyMiles to shop at the qualifying retailer?
SimplyMiles is a card-linked program, not a shopping portal. In almost all cases I’ve ever seen, you simply need to shop at the associated retailer. There is no suggestion that you need to click through to that retailer from the SimplyMiles site.
In the specific instance of the current offer to earn 40 base miles per dollar donated to Conservation International (and what we expect will be an additional 200 miles per dollar as long as the 5x promotion is active), I think it may be a rare exception where you do need to click through the link from SimplyMiles. That’s because the 40 miles per dollar offer appears to be a specific “Priceless Planet” donation site set up by Mastercard (Gary Leff at View from the Wing was told that Mastercard is the one funding the 40 miles per dollar component). In my experiences checking out SimplyMiles offers, this seems to be a rare exception.
Generally speaking, you just need to link the SimplyMiles offer to your card(s) and then use your associated card at the retailer in question to trigger the SimplyMiles offer just as you would with an Amex Offer.
Can you stack American Airlines SimplyMiles with a shopping portal?
In short, yes.
The nice thing about card-linked offers in general is that they typically just require you to use the associated card with the associated retailer, so clicking through a shopping portal shouldn’t interfere (and should thus be OK) in most situations.
That is to say that, for example, if you have a SimplyMiles offer for Best Buy, you should be able to click through a shopping portal to go to BestBuy.com and as long as you pay with your SimplyMiles-linked Mastercard at checkout (and you added (“synced”) the offer at SimplyMiles prior to purchase), you should get both the SimplyMiles AAdvantage miles and the shopping portal rewards.
For instance, at the time of writing, the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal is offering 0.5 points per dollar in select categories at Best Buy. They are additionally offering a bonus through 12/17 that’s good for 500 bonus miles if you spend $200 or more through the portal. There is furthermore a SimplyMiles offer I see in my SimplyMiles account that is good for 2,500 American Airlines miles with a purchase of $200 or more at Best Buy. If I sync that offer to my Mastercard first, I should then be able to go to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and click through to Best Buy and make a $200 purchase on my SimplyMiles-linked Mastercard to earn:
- 2,500 American Airlines Miles from the SimplyMiles offer
- 100 Rapid Rewards points at 0.5 points per dollar spent
- 500 Rapid Rewards points from the portal bonus
Thanks to the current offer for an additional 5x rewards on SimplyMiles offers (subject to being pulled at any time), I would also expect to get an additional 12,500 American Airlines miles (an additional five times the stated reward). Note that this 5x promotion is scheduled to run until December 27th “or while supplies last” (supplies being the supplies of bonus miles). That’s a great deal; you’d earn a total of 15,000 American Airlines miles (and potentially 600 Rapid Rewards points) with a $200 purchase. I tried exactly that scenario last night.
There are plenty of other great deals where a portal amplifies the current 5x SimplyMiles offer. For example, through SimplyMiles, my wife and I both see an offer for 1,200 American Airlines miles when spending $50 or more at Blue Apron.
With the additional 5x offer, I would expect to actually receive 7,200 total American Airlines miles with a $50 purchase (1,200 + 5*1,200). I noticed that the Wyndham Rewards shopping portal is currently offering 5,402 Wyndham points with a Blue Apron sign-up, so we clicked through Wyndham before placing an order. The email from Wyndham about pending points came through overnight.
That means we should end up getting both 5,402 Wyndham points and 7,200 American Airlines miles on our first order. Note that if you prefer cash back over Wyndham Rewards points, I see the Ibotta app offering $50 cash back for new subscribers who sign up for Blue Apron at the time of writing (I didn’t think of that last night).
In some cases though I didn’t even bother with a portal. For instance, I found an offer last night good for 1,000 miles with any purchase at GoPro.com.
With the 5x promo, that should mean 6,000 total miles with any purchase. I didn’t really care about earning portal rewards on “The Tool” I bought.
However, I do usually look for opportunities to stack card-linked offers with shopping portals for maximum savings.
When I checked with Stephen Pepper (who wrote our complete guide to which card-linked programs might stack), he told me that SimplyMiles runs on RCLON, Rakuten’s card-linked offer network, but it should still stack even with Rakuten’s shopping portal (but not Rakuten’s in-store card-linked offers).
Can you stack American Airlines SimplyMiles with other card-linked programs?
Maybe, though I’m not sure I would mess with the chance to earn the current additional 5x offers.
SimplyMiles isn’t the only program that offers card-linked offers. Again, Stephen wrote the best current resource I’ve seen about card-linked programs in this post: Card-Linked Programs & The Networks They Run On (AKA Which Programs Stack). That post covers more than fifty different card-linked programs.
The thing to understand about card-linked offers (like Rakuten in-store offers, SimplyMiles, Amex Offers, Chase Offers, Bank of America offers, etc) is that there are a limited number of tracking networks that exist that actually track the purchases to award points or miles and in many cases several programs that look different to the end user actually run on the same tracking network. For instance, Rakuten in-store offers runs on RCLON (Rakuten’s card-linked offer network) and so does Google Pay. Since both rewards programs use the same backbone tracking network, you probably can’t double-dip rewards.
In the section of Stephen’s resource post titled “Can card-linked programs stack with each other?“, Stephen explains that you probably can’t stack two programs that run on the same tracking network but that you can usually stack programs that run on separate tracking networks.
Since SimplyMiles runs on the RCLON network, it likely will not stack with other programs that use that tracking network like Rakuten in-store cash back, Google Pay, United Mileage Plus in-store offers, etc. If you try to link your card to multiple card-linked programs in the same tracking network, you will likely only receive the rewards from whichever program you link your card to last (the program with which you synced your card most recently replaces the program to which you linked it previously). In other words, if you have a card linked to Google Pay (which runs on the RCLON tracking network) and then you try to also link that card to SimplyMiles, you will probably only earn miles from SimplyMiles (and likely won’t earn Google Pay rewards unless you re-link the card to Google Pay).
However, it might be possible to link the same Mastercard to SimplyMiles that you have linked to something like Dosh or JetBlue’s in-store offers (which run on different tracking networks) and earn card-linked rewards from both on a single purchase (and also click through a shopping portal to earn portal rewards).
However, if you attempt to stack card-linked programs, I recommend being sure to link your credit card to the program that matters most to you last. As noted above, when programs conflict (i.e. when you link to two programs on the same tracking network), you are likely only going to receive rewards from the program to which you linked your card last.
Given the temporary extra 5x offers via SimplyMiles, I’d want to make sure I synced my Mastercard to SimplyMiles last in most cases (for as long as the 5x offer is in play).
In fact, given the big value of the additional 5x promotion, I would probably avoid the potential for messing anything up by linking with another program.
For example, Rakuten currently has an in-store offer for Best Buy that’s good for 5% back (or 5x Membership Rewards points). I now know that this wouldn’t stack with SimplyMiles because they both track purchases on the RCLON network. However, even before I knew that, when someone asked me whether Rakuten in-store offers would stack with SimplyMiles, my first thought was “Why chance messing up your shot at 15,000 easy AA miles with a $200 purchase by trying to squeeze out an extra $10 / 1,000 Membership Rewards points?”. My fear with trying to stack two card-linked offers would be the chance that I’d only get the $10 / 1,000 points and somehow invalidate the 15,000 American Airlines miles. Those miles are worth far more than $10, so even if I thought it might be possible to link the same Mastercard to both programs I’d probably skip the small $10 offer in that case.
Nonetheless, it may be possible to stack SimplyMiles with something else and when the rewards in question are more even/equal between programs, it probably would be worth a shot at stacking card-linked offers from different networks.
How long does it take for SimplyMiles offers to post?
It takes a while. Be patient.
With many people making generous donations over the past few days for the shot at 240 miles per dollar donated, many people have understandably been anxious to see some confirmation that SimplyMiles offers have tracked. Apart from American Express and Rakuten, I just don’t think that most card-linked programs are good about sending any sort of confirmation that a purchase has tracked. You’re typically left needing to log in to your account repeatedly waiting for something to post.
Relax. If you linked the offer and made a qualifying purchase, it is more likely than not that you’ll earn at least the base rewards shown (I won’t attest to the 5x promotion with confidence at this point as I’m shocked that it hasn’t been pulled thanks to the popularity of the Conservation International offer).
As noted above, the SimplyMiles FAQs state that miles typically show up in your SimplyMiles account within 3-5 business days (but it could take up to 15 business days). That’s consistent with Stephen’s experience with the program when he wrote about a similar 5x offer back in 2019. He updated that post on 12/23/19 with a screen shot from his SimplyMiles account showing the purchases tracked (both the base miles and the bonus 5x) from purchases made on 12/17 and 12/19. In other words, he saw the miles pending a few days after qualifying purchases.
Unfortunately (to the dismay of many I’m sure), when the miles posted in his American Airlines AAdvantage account, they were backdated to the date of purchase. In other words, even if it takes the full 15 business days for miles to track and then they deposit into your AAdvantage account in January, they will likely be dated with the date of qualifying purchase and will likely not count as Loyalty Points for the purposes of earning elite status in 2022.
Can you use American Airlines SimplyMiles offers multiple times?
In some cases, yes. Unfortunately, I am not totally clear on the limits here.
Some offers, like the one we see for Target at the time of writing, state a specific limited number of uses (the Target offer can be used up to 3 times). Other offers clearly specify that they are single-use. However, the terms of some offers are less clear. If the offer terms don’t state a limit and the offer continues to show in your account, can you use it again? I’m not sure. I’m hoping that readers with experience here can chime in.
At a minimum, I expect that some offers can be repeated. For instance, those who have made multiple gifts to Conservation International report receive the confirmation email from Mastercard that their gift will earn 40 miles per dollar each time (note that this charity offer is a rare exceptional circumstance where the donation page is set up specifically for the offer; I wouldn’t expect any similar confirmation email for a purchase at Target or other retailers).
As most SimplyMiles offers have been relatively small, I haven’t paid close enough attention to whether and how often offers can be repeated.
If you’re new to SimplyMiles, how long does it take to see the “good offers”?
One major point of disappointment for many newcomers has been that those who set up new accounts since we reported the 5x deal on Saturday have not seen many of the best offers that those with long-established SimplyMiles accounts were reporting (like the 240x Conservation International offer and compelling offers for Best Buy, CVS, etc).
It seems that when you set up a SimplyMiles account as a new user, you will only see a limited number of offers initially (many new users reported seeing 83 offers, not many of which were particularly interesting). When you sign up for a new account, SimplyMiles notes that the initial offers you see will be supplemented with additional offers “later in the week”.
My wife has had a SimplyMiles account since around the time the program launched, but I had been lazy and never set up an account of my own. The offers hadn’t been compelling enough to draw me in. I finally set up my own SimplyMiles account this past Saturday. Through yesterday afternoon, I only saw the initial limited offers that other new accounts were seeing, but at some point in the evening last night my account went from 83 available offers to 160 available offers. Suddenly, I saw the Conservation International offer along with many other really good offers.
I don’t know the exact timeline between when you sign up and when you get full access to the “good” offers, but it isn’t instant. If you just signed up yesterday or do so after reading this post, I’d expect to need to check back with SimplyMiles for a couple/few days if you’re looking for specific offers.
It is worth noting that offers are still somewhat targeted. For instance, my wife has a better CVS offer than I do (1500 miles with a $45 purchase, which would become 9K miles with the 5x offer, versus my offer for only 250 base miles). On the other hand, she doesn’t have the GoPro offer that I do. YMMV as to which offers you get.
The past few days have caused a huge surge of interest in the American Airlines SimplyMiles program, and rightfully so. The current 5x offer is incredible and causes what we expect will be some very generous offers. I had previously mostly ignored this program, but I am certainly now giving it a closer look and will be keeping my eye on it even more closely in 2022 when base miles earned through SimplyMiles will begin to count toward the Loyalty Points necessary for American Airlines elite status. Here’s hoping they bring back these offers next year!