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La Jolla Mom

9 Ways To Maximize American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Without Flying

I decided to write this post because friends I have spoken with recently, though American Airlines AAdvantage members, were not aware of certain ways you can earn miles even without traveling. This information is updated to reflect the new website.

AA.com Special Offers Section

On AA.com, click on AAdvantage in the navigation bar at the very top of the page, so that the drop down menu is exposed. Click on Bonus Offers and the left column labeled Airline Offers will show routes and services that are offering bonus miles. You must register for these promotions in advance of travel. Don’t even think about trying to get credit after the fact–been there, done that. I will tell you that I have earned tens of thousands of miles doing this. For example, at the time of this writing, there’s a promotion for double miles between the U.S. and Tokyo.

AAdvantage Dining

Sign all of your credit cards up for AAdvantage Dining. This way, you can mindlessly earn miles just for dining out at places you’d likely go to anyway. If your card gets stolen, don’t forget to update it with the new number. I forgot and was disappointed not to earn miles at Sushi on the Rock a few weeks ago. Here’s a very small sample of restaurants in La Jolla/San Diego that participate:

  • Sushi on the Rock
  • Alfonso’s
  • Pizza Port
  • Burger Lounge
  • The French Gourmet
  • Harney Sushi

AAdvantage eShopping

If you are an online shopper, this is for you. When you shop online at sites like Neiman Marcus, Gap, Snapfish, drugstore.com, Macy’s, Dell, Target and more, you can earn bonus AAdvantage miles just for doing so.  This can be up to 10 times each dollar you spend. Trust me, it adds up. For example, spend $50 at Gap.com and receive 150 bonus AAdvantage miles, since Gap offers 3 times per dollar spent (at the time of this writing). Sign up at AAdvantage eShopping and click through to your site of choice. It’s very easy. Don’t forget to register your credit cards with AAdvantage eShopping to earn even more miles with other retailers.

Citi AAdvantage Cards

Most AAdvantage members know about the Citi AAdvantage cards. I have the platinum Mastercard, American Express, and business card. Each card provides you with 1 mile per dollar spent unless they are running a special bonus mile promotion. It will look like junk mail when it arrives in your mailbox, but open it and register. There is usually a 20% bonus mile promotion running on either our Mastercard or American Express card. Our family will shift to using one card versus the other during these times.

However, did you know that these cards also offer seasonal reduced mileage awards? Check with your Citi AAdvantage cards prior to booking any award travel. Click here to get an idea of mileage promotions the cards are currently running.

Open An AAdvantage Miles-Earning BankDirect Account

I finally did this. You get:

  • 1000 miles for signing up.
  • 5000 miles for using the VISA check card 12 times per cycle during the first 3 months.
  • 100 miles per every $1000 of the monthly average in the account.
  • 10,000 one-time credit for direct deposit (must have direct deposit from all income sources for 3 months).
  • 5000 miles for using bill pay for 12 months. Must pay 3 different merchants.
  • Refer-a-friend (up to 10,000 miles) bonus of 1000 miles for you and 1000 for your friend who signs up. Someone signing up through the refer a friend program, to be clear, earns 2000 miles–1000 for signing up and 1000 for using a referral link.

Open A Miles-Earning UFB Direct Airline Rewards Checking Account

It’s less than Citi AAdvantage, but you’ll get 1 mile per $2 Point of Sale (POS) transaction on a debit card. You’ll also receive a one-time additional 1,000 Miles/Points after having a direct deposit totaling $1,000 or more in one calendar month. It’s for personal accounts only so visit UFB Direct for details.

Don’t Let Them Expire – Donate Instead!

American Airlines will let you donate your miles (minimum 1000) to their American Airlines Kids in Need program which provides flights to kids and families via organizations such as St Jude’s and Make a Wish Foundation.

American AAdvantage members who donate to the USO will receive 10 miles per $1 donated to American’s Miles In Support of All Who Serve campaign, which supports USO programs and services to support the morale, welfare, social and entertainment needs of troops and their families, free of charge.

You will also receive 10 miles per $1 donated to Susan G Komen via Miles for the Cure. If you’re short on a mileage award, definitely consider donating versus outright buying the miles, though do it early because they take a while to post.

Buy AAdvantage Miles

I never, ever used to buy miles, but during certain times of the year, this is a great value. For example, through February 2013, earn 50% bonus miles for buying miles. You can buy up to 60,000 miles per year. With the 50% bonus, that puts you up to 90,000–just 10,000 shy of a round-trip business class ticket to Europe and 20,000 shy of a round-trip business class ticket to Hong Kong. Cost is $1650 plus tax and a $35 processing fee. In my case, that’s $1808. Compared to a $7000 business class ticket to London, that’s a deal, if you want to fly business class and don’t have the miles handy (obviously assuming you can pick up the extra 10,000 miles needed somehow–which is easy if you plan ahead). Here’s the new 777 business class cabin.

New American Airlines Business Class Seats 777As of December 1, 2011, non-travel related miles DO NOT count toward million miler perks. And, remember that you can use your AAdvantage Miles on oneworld alliance members. If traveling to or within Asia, use your miles to fly Cathay Pacific (it’s usually code share with American Airlines) whenever possible. Trust me.

*Photo credits: American Airlines

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