There has perhaps never been a better time to easily earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles – or, more importantly, to earn a lot of them quickly.
Even if you have no plans to fly with American Airlines, the airline's AAdvantage mileage program is incredibly valuable. Their amazing array of partner airlines makes AA miles among the best to fuel your future travels, allowing you to book flights with Qatar Airways, Japan Airlines, and many more. That's why changes to American's award chart earlier this year don't mean these miles are less valuable.
Here's how you can quickly and easily earn 100,000 American Airlines miles – and why you might want to.
How to Earn American Airlines Miles Fast
These days, the easiest way to earn miles isn't by flying. It's through credit cards – and especially when credit cards are offering big sign-up bonuses.
Most airlines offer these co-branded credit cards through just one bank. Delta has its suite of SkyMiles American Express credit cards. United Airlines, meanwhile, has a handful of Chase credit cards like the United℠ Explorer Card.
But American Airlines is different. They have co-branded credit cards with two different banks: Citi and Barclays. The Barclays card is a holdover from the merger of American and U.S. Airways way back in 2015, yet both credit card relationships have survived to this day.
Why does that matter? It means you can apply for and open credit cards from both banks – and earn the sign-up bonus on each.
Let's be clear: Credit cards are serious business. You should never open one credit card, let alone two or more, and spend money you don't have just for the sake of earning miles. If you can't pay off every charge in full, it's not worth it. But if you're financially responsible, this opportunity is great.
You'll want to make sure you have an American Airlines AAdvantage account. That way, you can use your account number on both card applications.
To start, few credit cards offer a better, more lucrative sign-up bonus offer than the AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. Just by opening the card, and making a single purchase, you will earn 50,000 American Airlines miles. The card's $99 annual fee is not waived in your first year of card membership, so you'll have to pay that to earn these miles, too.
While most credit cards require you to spend $2,000 or more in the first few months to unlock a big welcome bonus, that's not the case here. Make one purchase – whether it's a pack of gum, a cup of coffee, a flight, or something else – then pay the annual fee, and you can earn a quick and easy 50,000 miles. They're some of the easiest points and miles you will ever earn.
Learn more about the Barclays AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard (Full disclosure: this is not an affiliate link).
And then there's American's relationship with Citi, which means you can also apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® which is currently offering 50,000 AAdvantage Miles after spending $2,500 within three months of card membership. And the card's $99 annual fee is waived for the first year of card membership.
Learn more about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Put these two cards together, make a single purchase (and pay one card's $99 annual fee) on your AA Barclay's card, then spend just $2,500 on the other (the Citi Platinum Select World Elite card) in the first three months. Bam: You've got 100,000 American Airlines miles.
That's an easier (and cheaper) path to pile up more than 100,000 miles than you'll find with almost any other airline. Of course, it requires opening two credit cards and responsibly meeting the minimum spending requirement.
If you don't want to keep holding these cards past the first year and keep paying annual fees, you don't have to. You can close the card, and you won't lose your AAdvantage miles. Once you earn them, they're yours for good.
How Far Can 100K American Miles Take You?
“What can I even do with 100,000 AA miles?” you may ask. The answer? A lot.
Whether your goal is to fly in some of the world's best business & first-class seats or simply fly in economy for a very reasonable price, AA miles offer something for most travelers.
Book Qatar Airways Qsuites
While there is a new way to book Qsuites with Qatar Avios, American AAdvantage miles remain the absolute best way to book a flight in Qatar's incredible Qsuites business class.
You’ll need 70,000 AAdvantage miles to book a one-way flight from the U.S. to Qatar’s hub in Doha (DOH), or vice versa. You can also continue onward elsewhere in the Middle East – to Muscat (MCT) in Oman, Dubai (DXB), or Amman (AMM) in Jordan – and still pay just 70,000 miles.
By the time you meet the spending requirement on the Citi card and earn the bonus on the Aviator card, you should have right around 105,000 American miles: More than enough for a one-way ticket in Qsuites to the Middle East with plenty of miles to spare.
Want to get to the Maldives or Seychelles? Or even as far as India or Sri Lanka? It's still just 70,000 AAdvantage miles, with a connection in Doha on your way.
Or you could head from the U.S. down to South Africa (or anywhere else on the continent) and pay just 75,000 AAdvantage miles each way. It’s a massive sweet spot on the American Airlines award chart, and one of the best deals in points and miles.
Though change is in the air, American Airlines still has one award chart for all redemptions on its partner airlines. Select your departure region to determine the number of points required. As you can see from the chart below, flying Qatar Qsuites from the U.S. to the Middle East or the Maldives (defined as part of the “Indian Subcontinent”) would also cost just 70,000 AAdvantage miles.
We send award alerts for Qatar Airways Qsuites availability to our Thrifty Traveler Premium+ members!
Qatar Airways has a massive network so it’s easy to get just about anywhere in the world if you have American Airlines miles. But, as is often the case in the world of points and miles, just because it is possible, doesn't mean you'll be able to book it. There needs to be award availability to book, which often comes in waves.
Read our full review of the Qsuites experience from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Doha (DOH)!
Domestic Flights from 5K Miles Each Way
Over the last few years, American Airlines has begun selling domestic flights for as low as 5,000 miles each way – down from a previous norm of 7,500 miles or even 12,500 miles.
It can be a bit tricky to find these fares, as American doesn't publish a list of which routes qualify for discounted pricing, so it will require some trial and error.
Short-haul flights under 1,000 miles from American hubs like Phoenix (PHX), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), and Philadelphia (PHL) seem to be the best bets. But even then, it can be unpredictable, with drastic swings in prices day by day.
After years of inching toward it, American finally swapped out its ironclad award chart and embraced dynamic pricing, meaning award rates to book these AA flights with miles are constantly changing. While you could easily view that as a bad thing, there's an upshot: These discounted rates are becoming even more common if you time it right.
Book Japan Airlines Business or First Class
Or what about flying in style to Japan now that it's open again? When you’re flying 10-plus hours to Asia, it’s worth some extra miles to fly in comfort. How about a SkySuite?
Japan Airlines has one of the world’s best business class seats out there, and they're called SkySuites. In the right seat, it’s both spacious and insanely private. Some of the best food you’ll find in the sky doesn’t hurt either.
After our sterling review of Japan Airlines Business Class, we’re convinced it’s one of the best ways to use your AA miles.
The best part? This incredible flight – which normally costs $5,000 or more – is just 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way. With 125,000 miles, you've got more than enough for a roundtrip flight.
Want to fly first class to Tokyo? Japan Airlines' First Class can be booked for only 80,000 AAdvantage miles each way. And we think it's worth it. Check out our full review of a flight from Tokyo to Chicago.
Get to the Caribbean or Mexico for Less
How does a trip to the beach for 25,000 miles round-trip or less sound?
With AAdvantage miles, it's easy to get to Mexico or an island in the Caribbean for cheap. Thanks to low rates and plenty of flights, there's no better way to book a trip south than with AAdvantage miles.
There is never a bad time to earn American Airlines miles. But with the ability to quickly earn 100,000 miles, right now is one of the best times we've ever seen.
Great partner carriers and reasonable award rates make AAdvantage miles incredibly valuable even if you never plan to fly American. But most importantly, no other airline makes it so easy to pile up 100,000-plus miles so quickly – or cheaply.
Don't sleep on this opportunity as you are thinking about your future travels.