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The Ultimate Guide to the AAdvantage Program

The AAdvantage program is the frequent flyer program for United States carrier American Airlines. The AAdvantage program is the second-oldest frequent flyer program in the world – launched in 1981. The program is by far the largest frequent flyer service globally, with over 100 million members worldwide as of 2020.

american airlines aadvantage guide

What is the AAdvantage® Program?

AAdvantage® is the loyalty program of American Airlines – one of the world’s largest airlines. The AAdvantage® Program was first introduced in 1981, making it the second Program of its kind, and it remains the most extensive frequent flyer program on the planet.

American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, which comprises 15 global carriers. Among them are British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and several other global leading airlines.

Earning AAdvantage® Miles

There are multiple ways to earn AAdvantage miles – between booking flights directly with American, transferring rewards to the program, and earning miles along with purchases made on co-branded credit cards.

Earning Miles with Flights

The easiest way to earn AAdvantage® miles is by booking flights directly with American Airlines. The number of miles a member receives when flying with American depends on their current AAdvantage® membership tier.

Earning Based on AAdvantage® Status Tier

The following levels earn the corresponding amount miles for their fares:

aadvantage gold

Gold

Gold is the first elitetier in the AAdvantage® Program. Gold members earn 7 AAdvantage® miles for every dollar they spend on tickets, plus a 40% bonus when compared with Basic members.

Platinum

Platinum is the next tier of perks in the AAdvantage® Program. Members earn 8 AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent, plus a 50% status bonus when compared to the Basic level.

Platinum Pro

Platinum Pro is the next tier, offering even higher perks. Platinum Pro members earn 9 AAdvantage® miles per dollar spent, and a status bonus of 80% compared with Basic tier members.

executive platinum

Executive Platinum

Executive Platinum is the pinnacle of the program, offering huge earning potential. Executive Platinum earns the most miles, netting 11 miles per dollar spent with American, plus an impressive 120% status bonus.

Earning with Oneworld Partners

AAdvantage® members can also earn miles when they spend money with American Airlines partners, including Oneworld partner airlines. All told, the Oneworld global airline alliance reaches more than 150 countries worldwide. Other Oneworld airlines include:

  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

AAdvantage® miles earned with Oneworld airlines are generally earned through miles traveled, rather than a miles-per-dollar rate. However, additional miles are earned based on the class of travel (economy, business, first, etc.), as well as AAdvantage® membership tier.

SimplyMiles

Current American Airlines loyalty members can join SimplyMiles by registering on the rewards site and adding any Mastercard or Visa credit card as their payment method. After joining, members can activate personalized offers and earn miles through everyday purchases in a number of categories.

Previously, only those with an AA credit card issued through Citi or Barclays could join the program.

Earning with Other American Airlines Partners

  • Hotels: Earn with select hotel stays. American Airlines partner hotels include Marriott Bonvoy, InterContinental, Hyatt, Fiesta Americana, Millennium, Shangri-la, Wyndham, WorldHotels, and more. Members can also earn when they book with RocketMiles, PointsHound, or American Airlines Hotels.
  • Rental Cars: American rental car partners include Alamo, Budget, Carmel, Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, National, Thrifty, and more.
  • Vacation and Cruises: AAdvantage® members earn bonus miles when they book vacation packages or cruises directly through American Airlines.
  • Shopping: AAdvantage® miles can also be earned when making purchases through the shopping portal, where miles are earned for making purchases via hundreds of leading brands.

Related Article: Alaska and American Airlines Expand Partnership to Offer More Reciprocal Miles

AAdvantage Dining

AAdvantage Dining is a special program within the American Airlines loyalty membership that earns members even more miles when they dine out. The program advertises a large collection of participating restaurants in numerous cities.

While it is technically part of the airline’s regular loyalty program, AAdvantage Dining operates somewhat independently. Members don’t automatically benefit from AAdvantage Dining features when they first enroll in AAdvantage. They must sign up separately after they join. Fortunately, joining AAdvantage Dining is free. Members can link any eligible credit or debit card to their account, including multiple cards – no American Airlines credit card is needed.

Like the AAdvantage program, members earn one mile for every dollar spent on qualifying dining purchases.

Related Article: Is AAdvantage Dining Really Worth It?

What Are AAdvantage Miles Worth?

0
cents per mile

Do AAdvantage® Miles Expire? 

AAdvantage miles expire after of inactivity on the account

How to Redeem AAdvantage® Miles

There are several redemption options for AAdvantage® miles:

Flights with American Airlines

The easiest way to use miles is through award flight bookings with American Airlines. To use miles for flights, members need to book their flight at AA.com. Bookings with American Airlines have the added bonus of featuring no blackout dates, meaning you don’t need to worry when you can book your award travel.

AAdvantage® miles can be used for two different types of reward fares: MileSAAver awards and AAnytime awards.

  • MileSAAver: MileSAAver awards offer the best value for award flights, but are only available on specific routes. Additionally, these awards are much fewer in number, so those looking to redeem their miles for a MileSAAver flight need to be quick on their feet to ensure they don’t miss out.
  • AAnytime: AAnytime offers a much smoother redemption process, as they are available on pretty much every flight. AAnytime miles, however, are more expensive than MileSAAver awards, meaning they don’t offer the best value for money.

Related Article: American Airlines: Users Can Now Cancel Award Flights Online

Flights with Oneworld Partners

One of the great perks of the AAdvantage® Program is its close association with the Oneworld alliance. Through Oneworld, AAdvantage® provides access to over 1,000 global destinations.

Admirals Club Access

American AAdvantage® miles are redeemable for access to membership renewal for American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. The Admirals Club offers impressive amenities and comforts for travelers, including shower suites, complimentary drinks and snacks, dedicated business centers, and personal travel assistance.

Other Ways to Redeem Miles

AAdvantage® miles are also redeemable for gift cards or purchases made through the American Airlines shopping portal.

AAdvantage® Status Levels

American’s AAdvantage® Program has several tiers, all of which offer unique benefits and perks.

AAdvantage® membership tiers are determined based on the following qualifications:

  • Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): 1 MQD is earned for every dollar spent on American flights, excluding taxes and government fees.
  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): EQMs are earned based on the distance flown and the fare class of the ticket.
  • Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): EQSs are earned based on the number of takeoff-to-landing flights a member makes.

To reach different levels of AAdvantage® status, members must earn either a combination of EQMs and EQDs or EQSs and EQDs.

Gold Status

Gold is the first step up within the AAdvantage membership tier system. To reach Gold status, an AAdvantage® member must earn a combination of the following: 30 EQSs, 25,000 EQMs, and 3,000 EQDs.

Gold Perks

  • Upgrades within 24 hours of departure
  • First checked bag free
  • Preferred seats for free
  • Free upgrades on all flights over 500 miles
  • 40% mileage bonus over basic membership status.
  • Oneworld Ruby status
  • Companion upgrade for 500 miles

Platinum

Platinum is the next level of status in the AAdvantage® Program. To reach Platinum status, an AAdvantage® member must earn at least 60 EQSs, 50,000 EQMs, and 6,000 EQDs.

Platinum Medallion Perks

  • Upgrades within 48 hours of departure
  • Two checked bags for free
  • Preferred and main cabin extra seats for free
  • Free upgrades on all flights over 500 miles
  • 60% mileage bonus over basic membership status.
  • Companion upgrade for 500 miles
  • Oneworld Sapphire status

Platinum Pro

Platinum Pro is the second-highest tier of membership in the AAdvantage® Program, offering impressive perks for members. To reach Platinum Pro status, an AAdvantage® member must have earned at least 90 EQSs, 75,000 EQMs, and 9,000 EQDs.

Platinum Pro Perks

  • Free upgrades automatically requested on all flights
  • Upgrades confirmed 72 hours before departure
  • Two checked bags for free
  • Preferred and main cabin extra seats for free
  • Oneworld Sapphire status
  • Companion upgrade for 500 miles
  • 80% mileage bonus versus basic membership.

Executive Platinum

Executive Platinum is the highest tier in the AAdvantage® Program, offering the pinnacle of perks and rewards for members. To reach Executive Platinum status, an AAdvantage® member must have earned at least 120 EQSs, 100,000 EQMs, and 15,000 EQDs.

Executive Platinum Perks

  • Free upgrades automatically requested on all flights
  • Four system-wide upgrades each year
  • Free upgrades on reward seats
  • Upgrades confirmed 100 hours before departure
  • Three checked bags for free
  • Preferred and main cabin extra seats for free
  • Oneworld Emerald status
  • Companion upgrade for 500 miles
  • 120% mileage bonus versus basic membership.

AAdvantage Concierge Key Status

The highest tier in the AAdvantage® is Concierge Key. Though Executive Platinum is technically the highest tier of membership, Concierge Key reaches one step higher. However, it’s not commonly mentioned because Concierge Key is not truly part of the AAdvantage® Program. Instead, Concierge Key is an invite-only tier for ultra-high spenders.

While there is no set rule on how much you need to spend to reach Concierge Key status, you’ll certainly need to spend far more than what is required to reach Executive Platinum tier.

To reach Executive Platinum, a traveler would likely have to spend roughly $15,000 per year on flights – no mean feat. To receive an invite to the elusive Concierge Key status, travelers would likely have to spend more than $50,000 a year on flights with American Airlines – making this tier only open to the top 1% of business and personal travelers.

Concierge Key Perks

The benefits of Concierge Key status aren’t publicly published, instead being subject to reports by those who have reached the elusive status. Fortunately, those who have achieved Concierge Key status have been much more forthcoming with information than American Airlines, so here’s what you can expect from the invitation-only tier, should you be tapped:

  • Complimentary Executive Platinum status for a friend or family member
  • Dedicated Concierge Key email address and phone line
  • American Airlines Flagship check-in area access, allowing members to bypass wait lines and sit in comfort while they check-in
  • Complimentary tarmac rides when connections are tight – often in luxurious vehicles
  • Complimentary Admirals Club membership
  • Highest priority upgrades and pre-boarding
  • Exclusive invites to events at Michelin-starred restaurants or other VIP occasions

Current American Airlines / AAdvantage Credit Cards

As AAdvantage® is the world’s largest frequent flyer program, there are several great co-branded credit cards that allow members to earn additional miles.

They are issued through two major providers: Barclays and Citi. These cards offer impressive initial bonus offers and earn additional miles per dollar spent on top of the AAdvantage® earning outlined in this guide.

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About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.