In a nutshell, there are two type of miles: Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) and ReDeemable Miles (RDM). While EQM will allow you to earn elite status, the RDM are the mileage currency that allows you to book award travel on American Airlines and oneWorld Alliance partners.
Here are a few ways to earn miles:
- Flying on American Airlines and partner airlines, also known as “Butt-In-Seat miles”
- Elite Tier Mileage Bonuses
- Credit Card & Bank Bonuses
- AAdvantage Dining Program
- Promotions and Affiliates
When you fly, you earn redeemable miles for every flight mile. This is the traditional way of earning miles, and as a general member, racking up award miles this way can mean it will take 25,000 flight miles to earn one free domestic US award ticket.
Elite Tier Mileage Bonuses:
Once achieving Gold, Platinum or Execute Platinum status, you are eligible for bonus RDM miles based on your elite status level.
Depending on your elite tier, when you book a trip that has a Butt-In-Seat distance of 5000 miles, as a Gold elite member you’ll earn 6250 redeemable miles, and a Platinum or Executive Platinum will earn 10,000 miles. This is a large perk of the elite program, especially when you hit the Platinum or the Executive Platinum tier. You’re earning more miles for the same cost and you’re not doing anything different.
The minimum mileage guarantee is offered to elite members, and guarantees that you will get 500 miles, even on shorter flights, such as PDX-SEA, which is 129 flight miles.
A general AAdvantage member will be credited 129 miles, but an elite status member will be credited 500 miles, due to the minimum mileage guarantee! This is why I highly advocate being loyal to one airline and an alliance. Those bonus miles add up!
Credit Card & Bank Bonuses
These days when you sign up for a credit card, there’s usually a signup bonus if you spend a certain amount of money within a certain amount of time. If you hit the spending thresholds you will be awarded with the full signup bonus listed in the offer. Offers can vary from 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles with different spend thresholds to hit. This can be very lucrative, and though I don’t part-take fully, I have signed up for a few credit cards to put me in a position to redeem an award I otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain.
Check out these cards on the TravelZork deals page (which has some deals currently focused on AA bonuses), as well as this offer for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard®.
AAdvantage Dining Program
The AAdvantage Dining program works in conjunction with your credit card. When you link your AAdvantage Frequent Flier account with your credit card, you will earn miles when you dine at restaurants that are part of the dining program. For dining at a restaurant listed on the site, you can get anywhere from 1-5 miles per dollar spent at the restaurant. There are also more bonuses available as you become a frequent diner.
(Pro-tip : If dining out with a group of friends where you are splitting the check, convince your friends to let you charge the dinner and have them give you cash (or PayPal) for their portion of the check.)
Promotions and Affiliates
Purchasing Flowers and Shopping:
- Purchasing flowers can be an excellent way to pad your mileage balance, especially if you plan for special occasions, events, baby showers, etc.
- AAdvantage Shopping (eShopping)
- Promotions for traveling from certain city pairs (ex. New York, JFK to London Heathrow, LHR) pop up from time to time, where bonus RDM will be given on top of the standard Butt-In-Seat miles. If you’re lucky enough to catch these promotions and you’re also going to the destination during the promotional period, it’s a win-win! (In some cases you must sign up for the promotion before booking the ticket.)
- Surveys: Surveys are useful if you haven’t credited any miles to the American Airlines program in 18 months and you don’t want your miles to expire. These surveys usually take 10-15 minutes and usually offer anywhere from 25 miles to 500 miles.
- Facebook: Facebook promotions are on the American Airlines page every so often and for learning about an aspect of American Airlines or entering a drawing. Some of these can net up to 1000 miles.
Future posts will explain the mechanics of qualifying for elite status, earning miles on American Airlines partners, and a shortcut method to qualify for elite status.