I’ve been feverishly accruing American miles for a trip to Japan on JAL’s Business Class and with work travel slowing down and tighter restrictions on Citi AAdvantage card bonuses, I quickly began running out of options to accrue AA miles.
This led me to switch up my strategy a bit. Here are some ways I’m earning AA miles after the credit card bonuses ran out. These scenarios require you to spend money and are not as easy as sign-up bonuses, but if we can maximize how we spend our cash, we can make it worthwhile.
AAdvantage E-Shopping Portal
I’ve long believed in the importance of shopping portals. Think about it – if you spend $1,000 per month on “stuff”, you will get 1,000 AAdvantage miles minimum if you use the Citi AAdvantage or Barclay’s Aviator credit cards. Now, if you shop through the shopping portal (which comes at no extra cost to you I might add), you may get 2, 3, or even 20 times your points. For example, Apple recently published a 5 AA miles per dollar promotion through the AAdvantage shopping portal. If you bought a $1,299 MacBook Pro, you would’ve earned ~7,794 AA miles, not counting any other promotions going on at that time.
Another way to scrape up some extra AA miles is by using transfer partners like SPG (soon-to-be Marriott) and Diner’s Club. My corporate club is a Diner’s card and we get a decent (near 1:1) transfer ratio to AA and with the SPG/Marriott transfer ratios remaining the same (or actually improving), I can still transfer these points for a quick top-up.
Buying miles with discounts
Another way to earn AA miles is to buy miles or points when a discount or special deal is offered. This strategy can be great for topping up your account or getting you a few extra miles to book that redemption you’ve been dreaming of. Specials aren’t always available, but when they come out, it’s wise to evaluate whether taking advantage of the offer is beneficial for your goals. Previously we’ve seen SPG offer a 35% discount on purchased Starpoints (though this is not applicable any longer due to the merger) and American offer nearly 50% more value on purchased miles.
Paying cash for flights
Credit card sign-up bonuses are great, but with the increased number of restrictions being imposed by issuers, I don’t think they’re that reliable of a strategy in the long run. As such I’ve started to realize that paying cash for flights, but doing so intelligently, will be one of the more reliable ways to earn miles. Now, I understand the key focus of this points and miles game is to fly as cheaply as possible. I get that, but if you think about how some premium class flights can cost upwards of $10,000 or more, paying cash to accrue miles isn’t such a bad deal. You just have to be smart with it and make sure the value is there.
What are your favorite ways to earn American miles (assuming you would even want them!)?