American Airlines is one of the air carriers that I like to fly with the most. They’re a well-known brand that I trust to give me a good flight experience. However, American isn’t the most affordable airline. There are other air carriers that are more budget-friendly. Thankfully, I’ve found a way to get more bang for my buck when flying with American Airlines.
By signing up with their AAdvantage miles program, I’ve been able to rack up on airline miles that have saved me money on flights, upgrades, and other travel-related expenses. You may feel apprehensive about this program because sometimes airline points expire. But do American Airlines miles expire? Well, I’ll take a deep dive into that answer below and give you more details on what to expect as an AAdvantage member.
The Bottom Line Upfront
If you ask me, I believe that signing up for an AAdvantage membership is a smart idea. Even if you don’t fly with American Airlines all the time, you can still take advantage of this program. There are so many ways to earn and redeem miles, and I’ll explain more about that later. All in all, I find lots of value in having an AAdvantage membership. It affords me the opportunity to take more flights with American Airlines.
Do American Airlines Points Expire?
Unfortunately, they do. You have to earn or redeem miles every 24 months to keep your account active, and if you don’t, all of your miles will expire. However, if earn or redeem miles with American or one of their affiliated partners (at least once within 24 months), they’ll automatically extend your points for another two years.
This policy does not apply to individuals under 21. But once an individual turns 21, the 24-month rule goes into effect.
How American Airlines Points Expiration Rules Compare
Here’s how American’s policy compares to other major peer carriers:
|Airline||Points Expiration Policy|
|American Airlines||AAdvantage miles do not expire as long as there’s qualifying activity at least once every 24 months.|
|Delta Airlines||SkyMiles never expire.|
|United Airlines||MileagePlus miles never expire as long as you keep your account open.|
|Southwest Airlines||Rapid Rewards points do not expire as long as your account is active (note: this is a recent change!).|
|Alaska Airlines||Mileage Plan miles do not expire.|
|JetBlue||TrueBlue points do not expire.|
|British Airways||Avios expire if there’s no earning or spending activity on your account for 36 months.|
As you can see, American Airlines has the least generous terms, particularly compared to other major US carriers.
To be fair, many of these peers have only recently expanded their expiration policies. I’ll be watching closely to see if American follows suit.
Ways to Earn AAdvantage Miles
There are several ways to earn AAdvantage miles. Here are a few of them:
You can earn them by flying with American Airlines or their Oneworld partners. American Airlines is affiliated with airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and Qantas. You can also earn AAdvantage miles by flying with their non-alliance partners, which include Hawaiian Airlines, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, and Fiji Airways.
I really like that I can earn points with partner airlines because it gives me more options when booking flights. For instance, I prefer to fly with British Airways when traveling to Europe because they have great customer service. So, it’s nice to know that I can still earn AAdvantage miles even when I’m not flying American.
American is partnered with over a dozen hotel chains where you can earn AAdvantage miles. Some of these include American Airlines hotels Marriott, Hyatt, Intercontinental hotels, and more. This is a huge deal for me because I often travel for work, and I’m able to rack up a lot of points this way.
For instance, when I stay at Marriott, I earn 2 miles per dollar spent. So, if my hotel bill is $300, I’ll earn 600 AAdvantage miles. It’s a win-win!
You can also earn AAdvantage miles when you rent a car from one of American’s partners, which include Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, Thrifty, Alamo, and more. The number of miles you receive differs depending on the rental company. But for Avis and Budget, you’ll get 500 base miles (or more) depending on your AAdvantage member status.
In addition to the above, you can also earn AAdvantage miles by making purchases with American’s partners. For instance, you can earn miles when you shop with retailers like Apple, Macy’s, or Home Depot. You can also earn miles when you dine through AAdvantage Dining. There is a list of restaurants and bars that you can look up in your area. Simply link your card to the program and start earning! I love this option because it allows me to earn miles without having to change my spending habits.
If you’re looking to book a vacation, you can do so through American and earn AAdvantage miles. This is a great way to accumulate miles via American Airlines vacation packages.
Not only that, but you can rack up on miles when you book a cruise with select cruise lines. You’ll earn 1 mile per every $1 spent.
Buying miles might seem like a bad idea, but it isn’t. This option is actually quite beneficial, especially if you’re planning a last-minute trip and need to book a flight. You can buy AAdvantage miles to help you get to a higher membership level before your next trip. I like to use this option when I’m close to having enough points for a free flight. The money I pay for the points is significantly lower than the price I’d pay for a flight.
Credit cards are a great way to earn AAdvantage miles. American Airlines has a few cards that you can choose from, and each one offers different perks. Here’s a closer look at each one:
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Mastercard
With this card, you’ll receive 2X miles on groceries and American Airlines purchases, and 1X miles on all other purchases. There’s no annual fee, and you’ll receive a welcome bonus of 10,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Citi/ AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
This card offers 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and at restaurants, and 1X miles on all other purchases. Cardholders get a free checked bag and preferred boarding. There’s an annual fee of $99 (waived for the first year). You can also earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months.
Citi / AAdvantage Executive Mastercard
With this card, you’ll receive 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases. Cardholders get 10,000 elite qualifying miles once they spend $40,000 in a calendar year and a complimentary Admirals Club membership. There’s an annual fee of $450. As a welcome bonus, you’ll get 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
The additional benefits of this card are priority check-in and a $100 fee credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
CitiBusiness/ AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard
This credit card offers 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and at restaurants, and 1X miles on all other purchases. Cardholders get an American Airlines Companion Certificate after spending $30,000 in purchases within a card membership year. Plus, you’ll save 25% on in-flight Wi-Fi. New card members get 65,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 in the first 4 months. There’s an annual fee of $99 (waived for the first year).
Ways to Redeem AAdvantage Miles
There are an abundance of ways to redeem your AAdvantage miles. Here are some of the most popular options:
You can redeem your AAdvantage miles for flights on American Airlines, as well as their Oneworld and partner airlines. The number of miles you’ll need will depend on the flight you’re booking, as well as the time of year and destination.
To better understand how many miles you can use on a trip, review American Airlines’ flight award chart.
You can use your AAdvantage miles to upgrade to a premium cabin on American Airlines flights. The number of miles you’ll need will depend on the flight you’re booking and the class of service you’re upgrading to. Plus, you can use your miles to upgrade on partner airlines.
You can also redeem your AAdvantage miles for hotel stays. You’ll need to use the American AirlinesVacations portal to book your stay in popular destinations like Cancun, Vegas, and even Athens, Greece! There are over 500,000 properties worldwide to choose from!
American Airlines offers luxury experiences through Five Star Private Arrival and Five Star Private Departure. These services are available in select airports and include perks like a personal driver and private security screening. Generally, they are an additional fee, but you can use your miles to cover the services instead of paying out of pocket.
Just as you can earn miles by booking car rentals, you can also use your AAdvantage miles to redeem car rentals. You can find a car by using American’s online rental portal.
Buy, Gift, or Transfer Miles
Another option is to buy, gift, or transfer miles. While this may not be the most cost-effective method, it can be a lifesaver if your miles are on the brink of expiration.
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
Question: Can I transfer miles to someone else?
Answer: Yes, you can! You can transfer AAdvantage miles to anyone as long as they have an AAdvantage account. Plus, there’s no limit to how many miles you can transfer. You can even buy points and gift them to another AAdvantage member.
Question: Are there any additional ways to earn miles?
Answer: Absolutely. Not only can you earn miles through travel-related expenses and shopping purchases, but you can collect them by paying your electricity bill. American Airlines is partnered with NRG and Xoom Energy. With both companies, you’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent.
Question: Is it difficult to get an American Airlines credit card?
Answer: Well, it depends on your credit. Applying for the American Airlines credit card is the same as applying for any other credit card. You have to meet certain requirements, such as having a good credit score and history.
Question: What are the AAdvantage statuses?
Answer: American Airlines had four tiers within its AAdvantage program. The first is AAdvantage Gold. Next is AAdvantage Platinum, then AAdvantage Platinum Pro, and lastly AAdvantage Executive Platinum. You can work your way up to each status as you accumulate points. With each tier comes greater perks.
Do American Airlines Miles Expire
The truth is, I probably wouldn’t be a frequent American Airlines customer if it wasn’t for the AAdvantage program. I love that I can use a variety of methods to earn miles, and I make sure to take full advantage of my membership. I highly recommend signing up for the program. So, what are you waiting for? Start earning those miles!
Additional Reading on American Airlines Points Hacking
Here are some other helpful resources on the AAdvantage miles program: