Why AAdvantage is my new favorite mileage program


In December 2021, American Airlines ran an incredible promotion with SimplyMiles where you could earn 240 miles per dollar donating to Conservation International.  That was equivalent to buying AAdvantage miles for less than half a cent each.  Incredible.  I bought 1.2 million AA miles through that deal and now wish I had bought ten times as many.  I’ve already used most of those purchased miles!  Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any deals anywhere near that good since then and probably never will.  At the time I wasn’t too excited about AA miles (which is why I hadn’t bought more), but I’ve become a convert since then…

Big Picture

AAdvantage is my new favorite mileage program.  It is not my favorite points program.  If I had to pick, I’d still far prefer to have transferable points like Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, or Bilt Rewards.  Each of these allow transferring to many different airline and hotel programs so that you can use the miles that best fit any given situation.  However, of all airline mileage programs, AA is currently my darling.  And, yes, that could change any time.  In fact, comparing features side-by-side, Air Canada Aeroplan ought to have that mantle (thanks to having many more partners and offering stopovers for only 5K more miles), but I’ve been finding time and again that I’ve been booking awards through AA and rarely through Aeroplan.

American Airlines followed Delta’s lead in dynamically pricing awards.  But, unlike Delta, AA has kept their partner award charts.  And, unlike United Airlines, AA has kept their excellent partner business class award pricing unchanged.  In short, AA dynamically prices it’s own flights, but keeps fixed pricing for flying partners.  That has proven to be a winning combination.  Before offering dynamic pricing on their own flights, it was rare to find saver availability.  Now, I find that it’s common to find good award pricing (your mileage may vary), especially if you check back often.

Overall, here are the things I’ve been loving about AAdvantage miles:

  • Free cancellations on all awards
  • Free changes to partner awards
  • AA Roulette: AA often randomly offers excellent award pricing on AA-flown awards.  Keep checking!
  • Partner award pricing: Great award pricing on partner awards, especially for flying business class
  • Most partner awards are bookable online
  • Low fuel surcharges with most partners: AA usually doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on award flights (with the notable exception of awards flown by British Airways).
  • Domestic partners: When flying within the U.S., it’s possible to use miles to fly not just AA itself, but also Alaska Airlines, JetBlue (if AA is successful in fighting the break-up ruling), and Hawaiian airlines on certain routes.
  • Loyalty Points: When earning AAdvantage miles, you usually earn Loyalty Points as well.  This means that if you earn enough AAdvantage miles (even through shopping or credit card spend), you can earn elite status.
  • Award Hold: AA lets you put awards on hold for up to 5 days.

But there are things I dislike:

  • Cancelled award miles don’t always auto-redeposit: When cancelling award flights, miles don’t always automatically get returned and so you must track that and call AA to have the miles restored when this happens.
  • Awards primarily flying American Airlines are not changeable: You can cancel these awards for free, but you can’t make changes.  This is a problem when you’ve locked in a great award prices but want to make a small change.  Fortunately, awards primarily flying partners can be changed via phone agents (hang up and call again if you get an agent that says it’s not allowed).
  • Can’t transfer miles from major transferable points programs: Only Bilt offers 1 to 1 transfers to American Airlines.  Even Citibank, which has close ties to AAdvantage, does not offer transfers from Citi ThankYou Rewards.  Yes, Citi did offer this capability for a short period during the pandemic, but there are no signs of this returning unfortunately.
  • No stop-overs: AA doesn’t allow stop-overs on award bookings.  If you want to stay somewhere for more than 24 hours, you’ll have to book separate awards.
  • British Airways fuel surcharges: British Airways imposes huge fuel surcharges on their own flights and AA passes these along to their customers.  To be fair, this is true with all British Airways partners, but it’s a huge issue in the U.S. because if you fly east across the Atlantic, you are very likely to find British Airways award availability (along with very high surcharges).

AA Roulette

When booking flights on American Airlines itself, prices are dynamic.  Yes, other airlines like Delta offer dynamic pricing as well, but this is different.  When Delta dynamically prices an award, the award price usually stays unchanged as long as the cash price remains stable.  With AA, meanwhile, I’ve seen award prices jump up and down multiple times a day.  Running award searches feels like playing a roulette wheel except that you don’t need to spend any chips to play.

Here are some tips to winning the AA Roulette game:

  • Repeat your search regularly
  • Alternate between trying round-trip awards and one-way
  • Try different destinations if you have some flexibility.  For example, at one point in time, I found that it was much cheaper to fly from São Paulo to Detroit with a stop in Miami than to fly São Paulo to Miami.  Later, the nonstop to Miami was cheaper.  You never know with this roulette game.
  • Be prepared to book the award as soon as you see the price drop to a low level.  Remember that all awards are fully refundable, so there’s not much risk in booking.

Partner Award Pricing

Qatar QSuites

AA offers excellent partner award pricing, especially in business class.  Here are some business class examples for flights from the continental United States:

  • To/From Africa: 75K one-way
  • To/From Asia (other than Japan or Korea): 70K one-way
  • To/From Asia (Japan or Korea): 60K one-way
  • To/From Europe: 57.5K one-way
  • To/From India: 70K one-way
  • To/From Middle East: 70K one-way
  • To/From South Pacific (including Australia, New Zealand, etc.): 80K one-way
  • To/From Southern South America: 57.5K one-way
  • To/From Northern South America: 30K one-way
One of the best deals overall is to fly Qatar QSuites from the U.S. to South Africa via Doha for only 75,000 miles one way.

Depleting my miles

Here are some examples of how I’ve spent down my AA miles in recent months (this is not a complete list):

  • 300K miles (60K per person) to fly 5 people JAL business class from San Francisco to Tokyo
  • 112.5K miles (22.5K per person) to fly 5 people Cathay business class from Manilla to Hong Kong
  • 150K miles (30K per person) to fly 5 people JAL business class from Hong Kong to Tokyo
  • 55K miles to fly myself AA business class from São Paulo to Miami
  • 55K miles to fly Carrie AA business class from São Paulo to Charlottesville

Not yet flown:

  • 125K miles (62.5K per person) to fly 2 people Etihad First Apartments from London to Abu Dhabi
  • 140K miles (70K per person) to fly 2 people primarily in Qatar QSuites from Detroit to the Maldives
  • 140K miles (70K per person) to fly 2 people primarily in Qatar QSuites from the Maldives to Detroit

Rebuilding my fortune

My wife still has nearly half a million AA miles from deals we took advantage of long ago, but I’d still like to regrow my own balance.  There are two primary ways I’m looking to do that: credit card bonuses and playing the Loyalty Point game.

Credit card bonuses

Both Citi and Barclays offer business and consumer American Airlines credit cards and I haven’t had either for a number of years.  I’m ready to go for them.

A couple of days ago I signed up for the CitiBusiness card and was instantly approved.  At 65K after $4K spend, it’s not the highest bonus ever for this card, but it has been a long time since Citi has increased the offer.  I didn’t want to wait because Citi has a 48 month rule against applying again.  You can get the same card again if it has been more than 48 months since receiving a welcome bonus.  I decided that the sooner I get that clock started the better.  Plus, since it’s a business card, it doesn’t contribute to my 5/24 count.  I could have also gone for Barclays’ Aviator Business Card, but I’m going to wait on that one for an 80K or better offer to return (hopefully).  With the personal cards, I need to do a bit more planning: am I enough under 5/24 to afford to pick up a consumer AA card or two?  That’s a question I need to noodle some more.

The following are current bonus offers, card benefits, and earning structures. Keep in mind that bonuses do not count as Loyalty Points. Base earnings (1 mile per $1 spent) do count as Loyalty Points.


Card Offer and Details
10K miles + $50
Earn 10K AA miles + $50 statement credit after $500 spend in 3 months
No Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: Not bad for grocery spend if you highly value AA miles
Earning rate: 2X grocery ⚬ 2X AA ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Grocery: 2X (2.6%)
Brand: 2X (2.6%)
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Noteworthy perks: Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases
Card Offer and Details
60K Miles
60K miles after $3,000 spend in first 3 months
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
FM Mini Review: Excellent choice for a great signup bonus. Plus it offers the usual collection of perks for flying AA (free checked bag, priority boarding, etc.)
Earning rate: 2X restaurants ⚬ 2X gas ⚬ 2X AA
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Dine: 2X (2.6%)
Gas: 2X (2.6%)
Brand: 2X (2.6%)
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Big spend bonus: $125 AA Flight Discount with $20K membership year spend
Noteworthy perks: ⚬ First checked bag free ⚬ Priority Boarding ⚬ Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases
Card Offer and Details
70K miles
70K miles after $7,000 spend in first 3 months
$595 Annual Fee
FM Mini Review: Good choice for those who need Admirals Club access and those who value the Loyalty Points boosts at 50K and 90K Loyalty Points earned. Plus, it offers the usual collection of perks for flying AA (free checked bag, priority boarding, etc.) and some handy credits for Avis or Budget rentals and GrubHub.
Earning rate: 4X AA ⚬ 10X hotels booked through AA.com/Hotels ⚬ 10X car rentals booked through AA.com/Cars ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Brand: 4X (5.2%)
Other: 10X (13%)
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Noteworthy perks: ⚬ First Checked Bag Free ⚬ Admirals Club® access for both primary and authorized users ⚬ Up to $120 in statement credits per calendar year for car rentals booked directly with Avis or Budget ⚬ Up to $120 per 12 monthly billing cycles for GrubHub purchases (up to $10 per monthly billing cycle) ⚬ $10 monthly Lyft credit after you take 3 Lyft rides that calendar month ⚬ 10K bonus Loyaty Points after earning 50K Loyalty points through all channels and another 10K bonus Loyalty Points after earning 90K Loyalty Points through all channels ⚬ 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights ⚬ Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
Card Offer and Details
50K Miles
50k miles after 1st purchase.
$99 Annual Fee
Earning rate: 2X AA ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Brand: 2X (2.6%)
Card Type: Mastercard World Elite
Big spend bonus: Earn $99 + tax domestic companion certificate with $20K membership year spend.
Noteworthy perks: First checked bag free ⚬ Preferred boarding for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions traveling on the same reservation ⚬ 25% off in-flight purchases ⚬ $25 wifi credit per membership year ⚬ Flight cents: round up purchases to earn more miles


Card Offer and Details
65K miles
65K after $4K spend in first 4 months
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
FM Mini Review: This card usually has a great signup bonus, but if you're looking for a card to keep long term, you'll find better options.
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X AA ⚬ 2X certain telecommunications merchants ⚬ 2X car rental merchants ⚬ 2X gas
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Travel: 2X (2.6%)
Gas: 2X (2.6%)
Phone: 2X (2.6%)
Brand: 2X (2.6%)
Card Type: Mastercard World
Big spend bonus: Earn $99 plus taxes domestic companion certificate after $30K spend
Noteworthy perks: ⚬ First checked bag free ⚬ Priority Boarding ⚬ Save 25% on inflight purchases
Card Offer and Details
Up to 75K Miles
Up to 75K miles: 60K bonus miles after spending $5K in first 90 days + additional 15K miles after $15K in purchases in first 12 months
$95 Annual Fee
Recent better offer: Expired 2/6/23: 80K miles + a $95 statement credit after $2K spend in first 90 days.
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X AA, office supply, telecommunications services, and at car rental agencies ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Base: 1X (1.3%)
Travel: 2X (2.6%)
Phone: 2X (2.6%)
Office: 2X (2.6%)
Card Type: Mastercard
Big spend bonus: $99 companion certificate with $30K account year spend
Noteworthy perks: ⚬ First checked bag free ⚬ Preferred boarding ⚬ 5% bonus on miles earned the previous year after AF is paid ⚬ 25% statement credit on in-flight purchases

AA Loyalty Point Game

We coined the term AA Loyalty Point Game to describe the ways in which you can earn AA elite status without flying.  The trick is to find portal deals, SimplyMiles deals, hotel offers, and more to earn outsized numbers of AA miles and Loyalty Points.  Last year I earned over 75,000 miles and Loyalty Points by stacking deals.

So far this year we haven’t seen many big deals, but my renewed interest in earning AA miles, aside from Loyalty Points, has me more interested than ever in finding new deals.  If you see any great ones, please let us know!

What about Bilt?

The Bilt card is a great way to earn transferable points from spend, especially if you pay rent (I do not).  Plus, Bilt offers great transfer partners including AA.  I will consider signing up for a Bilt card at some point in the future, but right now there is lower hanging fruit with AA card welcome bonuses.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Greg- any idea if I can link a MC in my name to my wife’s simplymiles account? Since you can never change an enrolled card to another AA account, I don’t want to make a mistake. Thanks for all you guys do for us!


as soon as I added the CC to simplymiles, it put it into AA dining- and as you probably know, each CC can only be in one dining program at a time. So it took that card out of the p[program where I previously had it.

Still not sure if the name on the CC matters or not, but I suspect not.


I’ve been using credit cards in both my and my wife’s names on the same AAdvantage dining account for the last few months (mine) and no issues with both cards earning the points – I assume since AAdvantage Dining and Simplymiles seem to be sharing stored card lists / interwoven, it should work for Simplymiles too…


I had a surprise win on AA metal – award flights to Japan in J or F are sparse this summer and I had pretty much given up, then yesterday AA dropped a bunch for 60k on their own metal! Not as nice as the JAL F experience was dreaming of but an incredible price to get there in Flagship Business from the northeast. The prices fluctuated so rapidly, I’m glad I booked quickly. In 30 min the price more than doubled!

[…] ever since I gave up on elite status and became a free agent. So, when posts like that show up Why AAdvantage is my new favorite mileage program you just need to realize that blogs in this space are big businesses and it is in their best […]


Will I get loyalty points if I get a hotel on bookaahotels.com with my Amex Platinum card?


Definitely the best point redemption value, BUT, huge con is the fuel surcharge with British Airlines. East Coast (PIT) to Europe is difficult on AA.


It seems to me that AA became impossible for a while, and now it’s not. For the past 15ish years we’ve frequently booked tix to South America, AA was clearly the best for maybe the first 7 years, then it got harder and harder to use them – meanwhile UA became awesome for those redemptions, esp given their strong partners there. So I could never have enough UA miles… for instance, when I did my travel package with Marriott, I went for 152k on UA.

Now the pendulum has swung back to AA. P2 flew J on AA just last week for 30k where UA wanted 40k+ for economy.

But it’s really random. It’s to a place where you really need 200k in each major airline, or accessible to move there (MR, UR). And that’s the problem with AA.


Thank you! I have been thinking about the same thing even though I fly out of SFO and much more on United than AA domestically. I would like to apply for the Bilt and CitiBusiness card, and may be one more AA personal or business card later. Does it matter the order between Bilt and CitiBusiness?


Another to add to the “con” list is the difficulty and expense of adding infants to award tickets with AA

My wife and I scored on the SimplyMiles deal buying over 7 million AA miles but also had a child around the same time. Since then we have been focusing on programs such as aeroplan and avios since infant ticketing is super cheap and easy and haven’t spent any of our SimplyMiles fortune yet.

Now the kid is approaching two years old so we are gonna spend the next few years burn long through that fortune and have a ton of fun doing it 🙂


interesting. What was the cost of accumulating 7 million AA miles and how and how long did it take. Trying to understand time, effort, value


It was around $25k and it took me as long as it took to put in my card info and press submit. The opportunity was once in a lifetime and will probably never be back so that’s why we went big. We were thinking of the long game and glad we pulled the trigger


Have been watching comments all day so thought I’d quickly contribute. I am Lifetime Platinum on AA and pre-pandemic had been using AA miles extremely successfully, including Qatar in Q-Suites to the Maldives and Delhi, Cathay Pacific trans-Pacific in J twice, JAL to Tokyo, Qantas from Sydney to Perth, AA metal in J to Venice and Rome, AA in the back to Sydney (it can be done), etc. I also had Etihad booked in J roundtrip to the Seychelles using AA miles but lost that due to the pandemic. I have been having huge difficulties finding anything good using Aadvantage miles recently. I refuse to pay an upcharge of $1600 per ticket to get to Europe on BA, and AA metal is dynamically priced now so the number of miles required for J is crazy. Can never find anything going through Helsinki in J using miles, so trying to use AA to Europe is a bit of a mess. I have read elsewhere that finding Cathay in J anymore is nearly impossible from the USA. I found great flights on Etihad to the Seychelles buy they are all (tried multiple times) phantom. I’ve seen roundtrip flights on AA in J to Seoul price at 770,000 miles 11 months out.

Bizarrely, my most hated program is now my most successful. I still had many, many miles accumulated on Delta from my years with Delta status living in Atlanta, and could never find any use for them that made sense. Of my next nine booked trips, two are using AA miles, one is using UA miles, one is using Emirates miles and five are using Delta miles. Yes, all of the Delta flights are in coach, but in each case, the cost in miles (with the 15% credit card discount) has been much cheaper than AA and UA. I’ve only flown Delta once during the last 10 years (but thanks to the pandemic I’ve been Delta Gold for the past two years), so kind of surprised about this fairly recent development. I don’t think Delta has gotten that much better–just that the other programs have gotten that much worse.


Agreed. I don’t know why FM is saying we can find all of these partner awards at standard prices. Standard biz pricing on Cathay or JAL does NOT exist anymore. I’m very surprised that FM would publish a click-bait article.


i cry for you, Greg. 🙂

I tried to take advantage of the SimplyMiles thing…but had some log-in problem I couldn’t get around, and still can’t – last I tried.

Wahh….cry for me! Anyone!


I like their flexible calendar view by month. You can even select to only show nonstop options, which is what I prefer with kids over anything else. We are in PHL, AA hub, and fly regularly to Europe for 30k (economy for now, since we can’t accrue fast enough, haha). Last summer we found awesome nonstop Venice flights and it was not 11 months out or last minute – only found those easily because of the monthly calendar view.


Hi! Just a question about the Barclay’s red AA card. Do you know if you can get the red card (and the bonus) if you had it years ago and then product changed to the AA silver card over 4 years ago?


Yes, I literally just did that and got approved for the Red again (well, now I hope I get the bonus too, it didn’t say otherwise.). I still have my silver that I downgraded a few years ago from Red.


awesome! Thanks for the data point!


100% disagree with FM. He may have been lucky in finding those partner awards, but the average person will not find anything in biz class for flights from west coast NA to Europe or east coast NA to Asia on partner airlines at those standard prices, even one year out.


I’m an average person and I booked two business class seats to India from the east coast, although I had to book a year out.


With AA you can book 11 months out max.


Well then, whenever the max is. That’s when I booked. In my world, 11 months rounds up to a year.


How many miles did it cost you? 200K each? I just checked Washingto DC to Tokyo. They are priced at 150K one way with three segments that takes 24 hours. Laughable.


80,000 per person on Etihad.


Lucky…you won the lottery.


I just got two business class seats on BA for 57.5K plus fees from DEN to GLA. The BA site wanted 90K plus even higher fees. They are out there…You may need to fly to a different city to pre-position if needed.


Thank you, FM. But how is seats aero going to find awards that don’t exist? I just checked DFO, LAX, IAD, ORD, BOS, and JFK to Tokyo on AA’s website. There is absolutely nothing at standard pricing (60K miles) one year out. I think you’re being a bit optimistic about JAL awards. You got really lucky finding those 5 seats before Japan opened up. Those days are over.


Why would someone thumbs down this? Teri is vicious lol. Fwiw I thumbs upped so now it’s neutral again.


I think the key here is “average person.” While that may be true, if you’re flexible with dates and willing to hunt and use all the tools available you can find availability. Especially if you’re ok with taking a positioning flight and flying in shoulder season for the desired destination (which I tend to often prefer anyways to minimize crowds).

Edit: I guess figuring in positioning flights strays from your point. I agree E Coast to Asia and W Coast to Europe is quite limited.

Last edited 3 months ago by JayP

Being flexible with dates is irrelevant when there are no dates available. Not a single one. Can you find them?


LAX to CDG on 6/29, 7/3, 7/5, 7/7, 7/14, 7/16, 7/23. But I know that’s last minute and not what you’re thinking. Honestly I’ve been looking for flights to the ME which are easier to come by. Been doing a lot of searching and forgot that most all of the Europe availability I was looking at was with Star Alliance. Other than last minute, yeah the flights are pretty slim.


Another example, since now I see you’re looking at W Coast to Asia as well is 12/27 currently there are 2 seats on JAL business for 60k each, SFO to HND.


Oh. Good find.


Is that just one seat?

Dave Hanson

Greg, I had a longer comment that got stuck in the moderation que for some reason…?

Anyway, I’m posting again because while people are still reading your piece, you might want to include under “pros” AA’s ability to “hold” award flights for up to five days without any payment is a big plus–especially given the ability to play Roulette with pricing.


Thanks for the tip! For holding awards, can it be done online or have to call?

Dave Hanson

Online–very easy. Just pick “hold” at checkout. More details on this in my comment below (which just got approved).

Dave Hanson

Thanks! Now if we could just edit comments–I’m chagrined at how many typos I had in there! 🙂


Hi, I am surprised you haven’t posted about Loyalty Points Hunter yet which is a resource for current AA deals and potential stacking opportunity.


I had been away from the game for the last few years. I remember then that not all partner award availability showed up on aa.com. Is that still the case, or can we rely on all partner availability to show up online?


I had phenomenal success with AA roulette last week, even though I ultimately couldn’t use the ticket. I needed last minute tickets LAX to TYO for 2 people and pricing for business class was sky high. After several searches, I found SFO-LAX-HND for 62,000 miles on AA metal. The LAX-HND segment was pricing at over 300k if booked alone. I booked the tickets, but ultimately we had to cancel the entire trip.

Mary Jane

This comment is unrelated but I needed to post a big thank you. After working at EA, I thought my traveling days were over. Then Greg (when it was only Greg) offered insights on how to get interested in traveling again via 1st class travel and 5 star hotels. I truly enjoy traveling again but on a much different level!!!


I’ve gotten HUGE value domestically. In fact, just booked an economy flight from a tiny airport that retailed for $330 for 9.5k miles — almost 3.5 cents per point!

Like Greg said, award prices change. They also vary considerably from day to day, even when the cash price is fairly consistent. Same flight the day before and after would have been 41k and 28k respectively.


I’ve seen this too. A $300 AA ticket could cost 10k AA miles when searching one day or 60k AA miles when searching on another day. It’s so random, but awesome when you can find it.

I’ve also had great luck looking last minute. I had an AA flight in 2 days and searched fir the award and saw that it dropped in price compared to what I booked and rebooked several weeks before.

Never stop checking, the price can always get lower!


Yes. I just monitored a few flights PHL to MCO over a period of 4 weeks and for different dates. The sweet spot is to book around 10-14 days out, but definitely more than one week from the day you want to fly. Monday/Tuesdays are good days to book. If prices are high three weeks out they don’t come down much though. It’s definitely dynamic and only one of the weeks ended up becoming AAsaver while other travel dates never came close.


I also like the fact that you can do stopovers kinda, I have been looking at a Qatar flight to several locations that lands in Qatar in the afternoon and the connection doesn’t depart until the following morning so basically you get a night to spend in Qatar. Also I’ve noticed if you want to fly from Sri Lanka to a destination not flown by Sri Lankan airways you can get a connection on Malaysian Airline but that Malaysian airlines flight wouldn’t have been bookable on its own. For instance I searched CMB to SGN, I can fly on Sri Lankan to KUL, land at 2PM and fly to Saigon the next morning but the KUL flight to SGN isn’t available on its own, they want to route you to HKG on Cathay.


I couldn’t agree more. I chose AA over Delta about 5 years ago and have been earning and burning ever since.


will citi tell you if your 48 month clock has passed? i didnt keep such accurate records back than.

Carl L

No, they don’t tell you. I had to call in when I didn’t get the bonus offer, and they told me that I didn’t qualify for it because I had had the card too recently. It made me very cautious about applying for these Citi AA cards.


What about alaska? Seems like a similar program with better return on cash flights?


I used to prefer Alaska Mileageplan over American Aadvantage. No longer. It has become much harder to find good award deals on Mileageplan over the past few years, but as Nick points out the Aadvantage program has become better, not worse, over the same time span. I particular like AAdvantage for flying first class coast to coast. If you can book well in advance, and have some flexibility as to day of the week, you can often find AAdvantage web saver deals at 21k to 25k for one way first class tickets that price out at $700 in cash. That three cents per mile redemption value is awesome!


I became a brand-loyal AA flier during the pandemic when there was an easy opportunity to reach Platinum Pro. I fly frequently to Santa Fe, which is served only by AA and United and live near LGA. I’ve grown accustomed to the upgrades which, even in this overheated travel environment, have been running 50% or better.

Most of my overseas travel in the last two years has been to Mexico (where I generally just pay for the tickets — on AA) and Europe, where I find AA to be of relatively little use since the large, large majority of redemptions are on BA where you have to think of the 57,500 miles not as the cost of a business class seat but as the up-charge from economy to business (since the taxes and fees are as much, or more, than an economy seat).

While your analysis is good, I think it hangs on the slender reed of the partner award charts. I think we all suspect that those charts’ days are numbered at this point.


Aadvantage miles are also good for domestic first class awards on AA metal. See my post to @Matt above.


For domestic, I usually pay for main cabin and hope for the upgrade (knowing the worst I’ll get is main cabin extra, plus a drink). Sometimes I’ll check the economy award prices, which have been profoundly poor value recently. But, during the pandemic, I did fly SFO to JFK in the three-cabin first for 13.2k miles.


Look at prices as far out (331 days) to Europe business class. AA is getting in DL’s price range. My good friend plus spouse will cost them a million miles round trip DFW to Milan or a little less to Venice. So what so good about AA when you’re tapped out on cards and can’t reasonably replace miles? Even the cards have no multiples like Amex or Chase. Loyalty points who cares? You can’t fly loyalty points.
Sidebar AA lounges are pathetic here at DFW. AA has a long way to go to being a good program on so many fronts.


As, I think Greg pointed out pretty clearly, AA miles are valuable for partner awards, not their own metal (at least, only rarely for their own metal). He also mentioned that, for British Airways, AA miles are not so valuable because BA (deceptively) places most of the cost of the ticket into “surcharges”, and you pay those on AA redemptions on BA metal.

Unfortunately, because the large majority of redemptions on AA to Europe involve BA metal and a change in LHR, it’s not that easy to find a good deal on miles to Europe.


Yes Greg did point that out. However, when your next 2-3 years travel involves Europe, then I think you would agree it’s not the best program. Gotta a partner in mind? YMMV. It’s tough to see my 4 million miler Platinum for life friend’s stash go away at million miles a trip. Kinda hard to be in love with AA (or Delta or United). FYI I’m not in love with any of them even though I was “raised” Delta. Broke record, put your spend in transferable points.


What cities did you use? Regardless if I use positioning cities to keep DFW out of the international booking, it’s the same – 200K+ points. Staying off AA metal, everything I see runs you to LHR and $753.70 taxes. Oh, you gotta use AA miles someway. That’s my point. My friend has this big stash, and it’s kind of crazy to transfer Amex or Chase points to another airline. My wife and I fly Air France even though she has a respectable stash of AA miles we do plan to use with a partner airline down the road (sky).

Ram Seshadri

Excellent article. Very valuable. Thanks.

Dave Hanson

Nice writeup Greg,

With you 100% on this. I bought 2.4 million during that Simply miles sale, and also wish I’d bought 10x more. And happily, our 2022 move from SEA to Charlotte area means AA is almost always the most convenient option.

One important point you should add: free online award holds. It’s incredibly convenient to hold an award booking for 5 days before having to pull the trigger. Moreover, a “hold” but NOT a “purchase” sends an email which tracks the miles actually used for the ticket. Since–bizzarely–aa.com won’t tell you doesn’t track miles used for a given ticket, these holds let you easily track award price. That makes playing AA Award Roulette much easier!

Per your point about AA not always automatically restoring miles…does anyone have any clever ways to check that retroactively? I’ve booked and cancelled dozens if not hundreds of flights since the simply miles bonanza. Not realizing that miles would sometimes not credit, I hasn’t been careful about checking.

Points Adventure

I have a spreadsheet that records every moderate sized points-changing transaction and the start/end balances. I make speculative bookings across diff programs and this is the best way for me to track the activities and anything unexpected. I also add a calendar entry to check if the points returned in 1-2 days.

Dave Hanson

That seems like a great strategy, Points Adventure. Do you happen to have your template posted anywhere?


Is the Bask Bank 2.5x AA miles per deposited $ savings account a no-go for you given current interest rates?

Dave Hanson

FWIW, the dealbreaker for me is not awarding loyalty points.


Actually that depends. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you only get taxed on the bask miles at a rate of 0.41 cents per mile. Whereas interest earned elsewhere gets taxed on the cash interest. So with that difference one can actually come out ahead with bask, and if my math is right it’ll cost closer to 1.5c per mile keeping cash at bask, comparing to say a 5% return elsewhere. Add to it their promo of additional 20k miles for 50k saved, it might be even sweeter for the short term.


@Pankaj Agree with your analysis. With the low tax rate, and the current bonus being offered, I decided to keep my Bask milesaver account open at least through the end of the year. However, I went for the lower bonus (4k miles additional for adding $10k in new savings).


Agreed. With the tax treatment, Bask is at least a decent way of generating AA miles. The exact cost will depend on your tax situation, but for most it should end up as 1.4-1.65cpm. Not amazing, but add in the current promo and it definitely deserves to be in the conversation if you are really after AA miles.

That said, I actually have a large AA balance that I’ve built up primarily from Bask when interest rates were lower, so my savings are back into earning cash at the moment.


Did you really purchase 1.2 million miles? The average person doesn’t have $1.2M dollars to do that. I know I don’t have that much money laying around. Good for you though !


One of my biggest regrets was not jumping on that deal. I remember there was a lot of hand ringing about whether or not it was going to pay off. Only later realized my new home city is an AA hub. Even better deal for those that itemize and were able to write off the donation


During that deal I was in Mexico, with my only Mastercard at home in the US. Painful.


I also regret not jumping on the SimplyMiles deal. However, I was not willing to spend several thousand dollars like Greg and other travel bloggers (e.g. Gary from VFTM and Lucky from OMAAT) hoping they would honor the deal. I assume most people just don’t have that kind of disposible cash lying around that they are willing to gamble with…


Hard to know where to start with this comment. The highest “regular” price for miles is about 3.5 cents each, so 1.2 million would cost $42,000. But no one (here, anyway) pays those rates, and people, in general get them for 2 cents per mile or less (about what you can make from tax payments, considering the fee involved) or $24,000 for 1.2 million.

So, the fact that Greg got 1.2 million valuable miles for $5,000 (which is what he actually paid) is, if not exactly “free”, would be a very good deal for anyone. It’s extra-special good for Greg since, presumably, he could write them off as a business expense (other people probably wrote them off as a charitable contribution, which is a little more questionable).


Sigh…I wonder if they’ll ever let me back in.


Greg, do you still have concerns about AA’s operations?


Finding J award availability on certain partners has been challenging. Asia-Pacific in particular.


You’re not the only one. Those flights don’t exist anymore, espeically on Cathay and JAL. FM just assumed availability was good because he scored 5 seats last year with JAL. Those days are over. Miles are useless if you can’t use them.