Advertiser Disclosure

earn american airlines miles

How to Quickly Earn 120K American Airlines Miles (And Why You Should)

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information check out our Advertising Disclosure.

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 last year don't mean these miles are less valuable … at least not yet.

Here's how you can quickly and easily earn 120,000 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*.

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, 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 the first three months of card membership. Plus the card's $99 annual fee is waived for the first year of card membership.

Read our full review of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard!


citi platinum select american airlines card


Learn more about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (Full disclosure, this is not an affiliate link).


And then there's the AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard from Barclays. Few credit cards offer a better, more lucrative sign-up bonus offer than this one: Just by opening the card, making a purchase, and paying the card's $99 annual fee you can earn 70,000 American Airlines miles

While most credit cards require you to spend $3,000 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 – and you can earn a quick and easy 70,000 miles. These are some of the easiest points and miles you will ever earn.

Read our full review of the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard!


barclays aa aviator red credit card


Learn more about the Barclays AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard (Full disclosure, this is a personal referral link).


Put these two cards together, then add an authorized user to make a purchase with your new AA Barclay's cards, then spend just $2,500 on the other (the Citi Platinum Select World Elite card) in the first four months. Bam: You've got 120,000 American Airlines miles.

That's an easier (and cheaper) path to pile up more than 120,000 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.

Read more: What Happens to Your Points and Miles After You Close a Credit Card?


How Far Can 120K American Miles Take You?

“What can I even do with 120,000 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 you can, of course, book Qsuites with Qatar Avios, American AAdvantage miles remain one of the absolute best ways 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 a little over 120,000 American miles: That's nearly enough for a roundtrip ticket in Qsuites to the Middle East … or two one-ways, for you and a friend.


book qatar qsuites with American Airlines miles


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.


book qatar qsuites with American Airlines miles


Though American Airlines has moved to dynamic pricing for its own flights, it still has one award chart for all redemptions on 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.


American Airlines partner airlines award chart

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.


business class award deals


Read our full review of the Qsuites experience from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Doha (DOH)!


Domestic Flights from 6K Miles Each Way

Over the last few years, American Airlines has begun selling domestic flights for as low as 6,000 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 – and will likely require some trial and error – but no matter if you're flying from an AA hub like Phoenix (PHX) or Miami (MIA), or even a small regional airport like Sioux Falls (FSD), these low fares are out there and can save you a boatload of cash or miles.


AA 6k award ticket FSD-SAT


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 – no matter the plane.


earn American airlines miles


And if you're really lucky … you might even get to ride in one of JAL's new business class suites. So far, you'll only find this new seat on the airline's Airbus A350-1000 aircraft flying between New York City (JFK) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND).


japan airlines new business class


The best part? This incredible flight – which normally costs $5,000 or more – is just 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way. With 120,000 miles, you've got just enough for a roundtrip flight.

Japan Airlines business class AA miles

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.

Read more: The Best Ways to Use American AAdvantage Miles


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.


miami to aruba american


Bottom Line

There is never a bad time to earn American Airlines miles. 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 120,000-plus miles so quickly – or cheaply.

Don't sleep on this opportunity as you are thinking about your future travels.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

38 Responses

  • Nick, I wanted to confirm before applying. If we have already had the Citi AAdvantage card in the past, we can apply again and get the bonus, correct?


    • Hi Steve, good question. Generally the rule with Citi is you will need to wait 24 months from when you last had the card to be approved and earn the bonus again. If it’s been that long, you shouldn’t have any issues.

      • Approved!

        I’m going to close our my Barclays AAdvantage card before February (when the annual fee is charged.) I’ll apply for that one after the Citi AAdvantage card is ready to charge me the annual fee.

        Another quick question. My AAdvantage miles are scheduled to expire in November. I thought I remember reading that purchasing something from the AAdvantage shopping portal would renew the miles, is that still true?

        Thanks for all of your continued help Nick!

        • Great to hear! Anything you do to earn or use miles in your account will reset the clock. That includes spending on your new Citi card and also the shopping portal as you mentioned.

      • Am I eligible to get the bonus on the Barclays card if I’ve just dropped the Citi card? Or does AA apply the 24 month bonus ineligibility period regardless of which card was dropped? Thanks.

        • These cards work independently of each other so dropping the Citi version recently shouldn’t impact your ability to get the Barclays version.

  • Nick,

    Great article but you fail to mention that you could also pick up the business version of both of these cards and pick up another 120-140k points. This would get you over 250,000 AA miles.

    • Hi Kyle, absolutely. For the sake of keeping this simple I didn’t mention the business versions of the cards but they’re certainly an option for those who qualify for small business credit cards.

  • Hello, wondering how long it takes to get the 60,000 miles. Do you have to wait the full 90 day period or do you receive them soon after your first purchase. Thanks!

    • In our experience, the 60K miles post right after your statement closes after making a purchase – so within about 1 month of opening the account.

  • I travel for business and already have the AA Aviator with Barclays and got the 60k. How do I get 100k with another card? Thx

  • Nick.. does citi and Barclay’s give u the same info as Amex in terms if ull get bonus mileage or not before accepting the offer?

    • Not to my knowledge, but both banks are pretty leinent. As long as you get approved, you are eligible for the offer.

  • I just tried finding flights from LAX to JNB on AA.com for award travel, and they aren’t showing any Qatar flights at all, just American and British Airways; they won’t show miles needed for a business class seat, just main cabin. I’m checking in July as they don’t show anything in November, and the calendar function says its unavailable, so I’m having to check day by day, and so far no dates are offering business class seats. Is there a trick to searching on AA for award flights?!

  • When I read the fine print it says the initial purchase has to be a Net Purchase. This sounds like something specific. Not just that you can purchase anything. Can you advise what the Net Purchase is?

    • Not entirely sure what that means but I can tell you I have never had an issue with it. It is possibly just saying it can’t be a purchase that is later returned.

    • Net purchase usually means that your billing statement has that much on it. For instance if you charged $1,000 but then went around and returned it, your purchase would be $1,000, but your net purchase would be $0

  • Re: Barclay’s Red Aviator card. Your post reflects 60,000 miles after first purchase within first 90 days, 0 annual fee, offer expiring 2/28.
    However, when you go on Barclay’s website, offer reflects 60,000 after first purchase & payment in full of $99 annual fee within first 90 days. With all of the scams going on, makes me feel as though the offer on your post might be a scam.??

    • When we click that link, we still see the 60,000-mile offer and no annual fee for the first year. You may want to try opening the Barclay Card link in an incognito browser.

  • Hi, the signing miles you get when applying do they count towards maintaining platinum status? Tha ks

  • Hi Nick, Can you book coach class from say, RDU to LAX and then use points to book business class from LAX to Tokyo? i would guess it needs to be done by calling AA? When I check how many points are needed to fly business class from NC to Tokyo it’s like 700K each. From LAX it’s about 350K total for 2 people. I only need the business class for the long haul portion. Thanks!

  • I was just asking if there is any updated information on if you have hard both of these cards in the past, can you get them again? And if there is any time period that you have to wait, is it from the time you opened the card and got the bonus, or from the time you closed the card?

  • Hi there,
    How long does it take for the bonus miles to post on your American Airlines account after I’ve met the $2500 (now $3500) spending amount on the city card? I already met it but my point still haven’t posted

    • Hi Jenny, they should post once the statement closes in which you met the spending requirement. If you don’t have them yet, you should have them soon.

  • Do the 120k sign up bonus points count towards earning OneWorld emerald status? ie. Earn 5k more to hit that OneWorld level.

  • Nick – we are seniors wanting to travel to Europe this fall while in good health & mobile. Have accumulated 300M travel award points with older US Bank FlexPerks Travel credit cards. Also have American Express Delta Platinum card to obtain companion certificate but pay $250 annual fee. We primarily fly Delta from Mpls. & have used most Skymiles. Noted your AAdvantage Elite World Master Card from Barclays to earn 75,000 miles but on American Airlines. Getting confused at young 80 & would appreciate your advice – willing to change or consolidate credit cards plus want to use existing rewards for Europe & future trips – my sincere thanks ~ Bob H

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free Flight Alerts

Cheap international and domestic flight deal email alerts

Get Cheap Flight Alerts