Ask Points Finder: How can I use my leftover AAdvantage miles?
Redeem, top-up or gift? That is the question.
Dear Points Finder,
My AAdvantage miles are due to expire in 30 days. I've got 12,838 miles, which isn't enough to do anything meaningful with, and I don't think I'll be flying American Airlines much in the future. What should I do with them? Thanks, Disadvantaged
This is a tricky one. As our AAdvantage guide explains, you can earn AAdvantage miles in a number of ways, but dealing with a low points balance often means the fine print becomes a problem.
If you thought you might want to use the points in the future, then I'd usually recommend some activity to make sure they're still valid. The most common suggestion found online for this is to use a card that earns AAdvantage miles to make a transaction. That's not helpful in Australia (and also ignores that if you had such a card, you wouldn't be getting an expiry reminder anyway).
A more realistic option is to make a purchase through the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, which counts as a miles-earning activity. But that doesn't make sense if you can't see the points total going up in the near future.
The second possibility is to top up your miles so you can redeem an award. In theory, you can redeem AAdvantage miles for a one-way flight anywhere in Australia for 15,000 miles. However, the minimum amount you're allowed to redeem is 25,000 miles.
So to have enough for a return trip, you'd need to top up with an additional 18,000 miles, which would cost US$531 (around $730). To make that worthwhile, you'd need to book a return on an expensive journey, such as Sydney to Broome. For most domestic flights, you could do better simply paying for the flight. So it's a valid option, but it's not really great value and you'll need to do a lot of hunting to make it work.
Your third choice would be to gift your miles to someone else. The annoyance here is that there's a fee of US$35 to do that. Those miles could potentially be worth more to an existing member, but the fact you have to pay definitely makes it seem less attractive.
Finally, you can donate your miles to a charity. AAdvantage offers three options: Miles of Hope, Miles for All Who Serve (with a veterans focus) and Miles for Kids in Need. If you're sure you're not going to use the miles yourself and don't want to pay to give them away, this might be your best option.
All rates and fees correct at time of publication. General advice only. Got a question for Points Finder? Hit us up on Facebook.