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American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program

A guide to American Airlines AAdvantage program benefits and features.

The AAdvantage frequent flyer program is designed to provide benefits to those who regularly fly with American Airlines or partner airlines. Unlike many of the frequent flyer programs in Australia, the AAdvantage program often has bonus points offers for certain flight routes which can be exploited by travellers.

How the AAdvantage program works

Depending on your flight, you'll earn both miles and qualifying points in this program. Miles are used to purchase upgrades, flights and other rewards, while qualifying points are used to get you into the higher elite tiers, which give you better benefits.
American airline member cards

Miles

American's AAdvantage program is among the largest loyalty programs anywhere in the world. It's also one of the oldest. Miles can be earned by flying American Airlines or one of its participating airlines. Transactions with over 1,000 cooperating companies can also earn miles. These transactions can be either travel or non-travel related.

Miles can be redeemed for flights to many worldwide destinations or retail products and services. These include hotel stays, vacation packages, car rentals, and flight upgrades. Joining the AAdvantage program is easy and free.

Qualifying points

American Airlines has three elite tiers which regular flyers can climb. To get to a higher tier you must earn the required number of qualifying points and to then keep your tier status each year you'll need to continue earning the set number of points.

TiersBenefits
Gold
  • A 25% bonus on points earned when flying on eligible flights
  • A minimum mileage guarantee of 500 miles for flights under this length
  • A specialised service desk
  • Companion upgrades
  • Complimentary access to preferred seats with standard legroom which are favourably located throughout the cabin
  • Priority check in, security screening and boarding
  • Priority check in and boarding on Alaska Airlines
  • Complimentary increased baggage allowance on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection
  • Other benefits including discounts on AAdvantage Award Travel Benefits and hotel and car awards
PlatinumIn addition to the benefits received with a Gold membership, you'll also get the following premium advantages:

  • 100% bonus on miles earned on eligible flights rather than the 25% earned with a Gold membership
  • Complimentary flight upgrades when travelling with a full fare ticket in the main cabin, if an upgrade is available.
  • Preferred seating on Alaska Airlines
  • Priority baggage delivery
  • Access to oneworld partner airline lounges
Executive PlatinumIn addition to the benefits you receive as a Platinum member, if you're an Executive Platinum member you can make use of even better perks. These include:

  • Eight complimentary one-way systemwide upgrades for you or someone you designate - for Business Class or Main Cabin fares on American Airlines or American Eagle flights.
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades for 500-mile flights (flights between the US, Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean, Bermuda and The Bahamas or between the US and Central America), subject to availability.
  • Guaranteed economy class seat availability.
  • A priority waitlist for First or Business Class tickets.
  • Waived ticketing service charges.
  • Extra baggage allowance on oneworld flights.
  • Access to Heathrow airport's Flagship check-in service in Zone H.
  • Further discounts or waived fees when using AAdvantage Award Travel Benefits

How to jump to a higher tier

As mentioned, you earn qualifying points on eligible flights. You'll earn the following qualifying points per mile when flying on American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection.

Fare purchased Booking class Points per qualifying mile earned
First ClassA, F, P1.50
Business ClassD, I, J,R1.50
Full-Fare Economy ClassB, Y,W*1.50
Discount Economy ClassH, K, M, L, W, V1.00
Deep Discount Economy ClassG, Q, N, O, S0.50

Table courtesy of American Airlines

Below are the points requirements for each level.

Elite status Miles or points required Segments required
Executive Platinum100,000100
Platinum50,00060
Gold25,00030

Table courtesy of American Airlines

You'll note that you can also advance to higher tiers by flying over the required number of segments each year.

How to earn AAdvantage miles

Points can be earned in a multitude of ways, although you should note that being an American-based airline means that not every option is available to Australians.

Flights

Airlines all over the world partner with AAdvantage to allow flyers the opportunity to earn mile-based rewards. You can fly one-way, multi-city, or round-trip award travel and earn miles. Airlines that earn miles include American Airlines, airberlin, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas, and Royal Jordanian Airlines.

American Airlines Plane

Earning AAdvantage miles with a credit card

There's a diverse group of credit cards which can be used to earn AAdvantage miles that are redeemable by American Airlines and its travel partners. Participating credit card companies include Citi and AT&T Universal, with some offering bonus points after purchases of a qualifying amount.

There are currently no Australian credit cards that directly or indirectly earn AAdvantage miles. However, if you have a credit card that earns Qantas Points, you could be able to redeem your rewards with American Airlines, as both these carriers are oneworld alliance members.

Hotel partners

Miles can be earned as you sleep when staying at some of the almost 100 hotels which are part of the program. Best Western, Comfort Inn, Hilton International, Sheraton and Westin hotels and resorts are among participants. Hotel accommodation from boutique to luxury suites can be booked.

Some hotels award one or two miles for each dollar spent. Others offer 200, 250, 500, or 1,000 miles per day. Fairfield, Four Points, and Gaylord Hotels are some of the hotels that offer miles per dollar. First Americana, Hawthorne, and Hyatt join others in awarding miles per day.

Other partners

  • Cars. Miles can be earned when renting cars from AVIS, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo, Hertz, Carmel, National and Europcar.
  • Holidays. If you book holidays through American Airlines you'll also earn miles.
  • Cruises. Travellers can sail on a top-brand cruise line and earn miles on the AAdvantage program. Whether enjoying a weekend cruise or sailing for weeks, miles are earned on each cruise.

How to redeem AAdvantage miles

There are many ways miles can be used as part of the AAdvantage program.

Flights

The most exciting reason why people sign up for a frequent flyer program is for free flights, and the AAdvantage program allows for this. Members are able to book seats on any unsold seat with AAnytime Awards, or for fewer points book MileSAAver Awards seats, which are released in restricted numbers and are less flexible. Seats on partner airlines can also be booked, and these include oneworld airlines such as:

  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines
  • S7 Airlines

American Airlines also has a number of other partners which allow points to be earned and redeemed:

  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air
  • Cape Air
  • EL AL
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Gulf Air
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • JetBlue
  • Seaborne Airlines
  • TAM Airlines
  • WestJet

Upgrades

Like any world-class frequent flyer program, miles can be used to upgrade an Economy Class or Business Class fare. These are limited to a single one-way trip with three maximum segments, and is obviously subject to availability.

Experiences

American Airlines has a unique bidding system which enables you to pay for VIP experiences with points. Previous experiences include meeting sporting teams, celebrity chefs and famous musicians.

Car rental and hotel accommodation

Just like you can earn miles for renting cars from AAdvantage partners and staying at partner hotels, you can also redeem points for car rentals and hotel stays. Elite status members will receive better rates when booking.

Other

You can redeem points for newspapers and magazine subscriptions, donations, identity protection services and membership to the Admirals Club, which gives you access to American Airlines' airport lounges.

How does the AAdvantage program compare to other frequent flyer programs?

As mentioned above, the AAdvantage program is award-winning and hugely popular.

Points expiry

Similar to the Qantas and Virgin Australia programs, your miles won't expire as long as you keep your account active. American Airlines' sets a maximum inactive period of 18 months. If you fail to earn or redeem miles in this time period miles will expire.

Status comparison

Let's look at the first status offered in the AAdvantage program - Gold status, compared to the silver membership in the Qantas and Virgin Australia programs.


American Airlines AAdvantage GoldQantas Frequent Flyer SilverVirgin Velocity Silver
Points bonus?25% bonus50% bonusUp to 50% bonus (25% bonus for Etihad flights)
Priority reservation waitlist?NoYesYes
Alliance membership?Yes, oneworld Ruby statusYes, oneworld Ruby statusNo
Priority phone service?YesYesYes
Preferential seating?Yes, complimentary access to preferred seatsYes, ability to select and store seating preferences, and select your seat at the time of booking or check-in for free.Ability to set seat preferences and select a seat from the reserved zone of your cabin. Preferential access to Qantas Award seats.
Extra baggage allowance?Yes, you can check in two bags for free. These are subject to usual size and weight restrictions.Varied allowances for short haul flights, one extra piece when flying to USA on Virgin Australia, and 10kg extra for other international long haul flights with Virgin Australia (Excludes Singapore Airlines codeshare)9 kg of extra baggage for domestic flights, an extra piece for international flights.
Faster check in?Yes, you can check in at any Business Class ticket counterInternational priority check inInternational priority check in
Lounge access?No, but you do get discounted membership to the Admirals Club.Yes, one free pass to the Qantas ClubYes, two free passes to the Virgin Australia Lounges
Family pooling?No, but you can share and transfer points (fees can apply)NoYes
More DetailsMore Details
Rates last updated October 18th, 2017
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC) Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Westpac Altitude Black - Altitude Qantas 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
0.625
1.25
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Reward Points per $1 spent as part of the Citi Rewards Program, plus receive complimentary international travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Black - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
1.25
2.5
20.24% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 20,000 points on approval and an additional 80,000 bonus Altitude Points when you meet the spend requirement. Ends 26 October 2017.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive a complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership and take advantage of complimentary international travel insurance.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
50,000 bonus points
0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points and take advantage of complimentary international travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
75,000 bonus points
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Collect 75 bonus Status Credits when you meet the spend requirements. Plus, enjoy two complimentary Qantas Club Lounge invitations each year.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0.66
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months, a first year annual fee refund and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
St.George Amplify Platinum
40,000 bonus points
1
0
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn up to 1 Amplify Rewards Point per $1 spent and receive complimentary overseas travel insurance.

Compare up to 4 providers

Pros and cons of the AAdvantage program

Pros

  • There are over 1,000 partners that allow consumers to earn miles
  • Rewards can be redeemed on hotel stays as well as air travel
  • AAdvantage members can transfer miles to other members
  • Qantas is part of the oneworld alliance, so points can be earned and redeemed on Qantas flights

Cons

  • Lack of credit card options for Australians

Frequently asked questions

AAdvantage members are allowed to transfer miles between colleagues, friends, and family. This can come with additional fees.

It's free and easy to join the program. Enrollment can be done online to start earning points with everyday purchases. AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for vacations, upgrades, and much more.

No, you don't, although some services are only available to those living in America.

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10 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    jimAugust 10, 2017

    Which is a better rewards program for miles American airlines advantage program or Qantas program,And why is one better than the other?

    • Staff
      DanielleAugust 10, 2017Staff

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for contacting finder. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      We won’t be able to tell which one is better for you since it would depend on your personal situation and circumstance. However, you check our review on the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program here so that you may compare it to the American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Program.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  2. Default Gravatar
    DianaApril 9, 2016

    What if I have already booked a cruise on line for carnival can I use my advantage program at the time I check in to obtain miles

    • Staff
      SallyApril 13, 2016Staff

      Hi Diana,

      Thanks for your question.

      If you didn’t quote your American Airlines AAdvantage membership number at the time of booking, you will need to complete and submit a “request mileage credit” form.

      You can only redeem miles for travel from the past 12 months. Make sure you have the details of your trip handy when you’re completing the form.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  3. Default Gravatar
    pilot1939@gmail.com,nurse1942@icloud.comOctober 29, 2015

    Three seniors want to use points for one-way business class tickets from PHL to SIN.
    Right now, they have accumulated approximately 500,000 points including 300,000 AA points, 110,000 USAA Mastercard and 75,000 AMEX points Travel date is 28 Mar. 2016. How can we do it?

    • Staff
      SallyOctober 29, 2015Staff

      Hello,

      Thanks for your question.

      If these points aren’t all pooled under one account, you’ll all need to book your flights separately to claim the points that are relevant to your specific account.

      For those who have accrued points in programs outside of the American Airlines AAdvantage Frequent Flyer program, you’ll need to transfer your points to AAdvantage points or quote your rewards number at the time of booking to redeem your points.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  4. Default Gravatar
    alimSeptember 15, 2015

    Hi there,

    I am a frequent Flyer member with Qantas and also a member on AAdvantage with American Airlines. I fly American a lot and I have points with both American and Qantas. Can I merge my AA points with my Qantas oneworld points? And how do I do that?

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 15, 2015Staff

      Hi Alim,

      Thank you for your question.

      While you can’t directly transfer your Qantas points to your American Express account (or vice versa), you can use a combination of your Qantas and American Express points to redeem oneworld rewards with either airline.

      I’ve emailed you a link to the Qantas “Using points with partner airlines” webpage for further information.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  5. Default Gravatar
    suzanJanuary 18, 2014

    Will be flying on Qatar Airways from JFK to NBO. As an AA Gold Member (1 million miles) do I get priority check in and boarding and when booking my flight can I choose preferred seat in economy? Thank you

    • Staff
      ShirleyJanuary 20, 2014Staff

      Hi Suzan,

      Thanks for your comment.

      According to the AA website the benefits you’ll receive from flying Qatar Airlines as a AA Gold member is that you earn miles towards your membership.

      To confirm whether you get priority checkin and preferred seating, please enquire directly to Qatar Airways.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

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