At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
Considering that American Airlines is the largest air carrier in the U.S. in terms of passengers, it makes sense to learn some more about the AAdvantage program if you are based in the United States. Additionally, American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance, which means that you’ll be able to earn and redeem American Airlines miles while flying other carriers in the alliance.
Not only can you earn miles by flying American Airlines on Oneworld partners, but you can also earn American Airlines miles through credit cards. Some of the best credit cards to earn American Airlines miles include the following:
But before you start earning a bunch of American Airlines miles, take a look at four of the best award sweet spots in the American AAdvantage program:
1. Fly first class from New York to Abu Dhabi (and shower on the plane)
One of the absolute best ways to use American Airlines miles is to redeem them for Etihad’s first class “apartment” from New York-JFK to Abu Dhabi. This flight isn’t cheap; it will set you back 115,000 American Airlines miles each way. But it is one of the most aspirational awards you can still book at a relatively reasonable price.
You’ll have the chance to take a shower, eat caviar and drink great champagne aboard the A380. If you want to see a little bit more about what it’s like, check out the video I took onboard.
Alternatively, you could book business class between North America and the Middle East for 70,000 miles, including flights in Qatar Airways’ enclosed Qsuites. It’s not quite as fancy or private as the Etihad apartment, but it’s an outstanding deal for that amount of miles. Economy class can be had for 40,000 miles each way.
If you want to fly first class without the high award price, consider redeeming your American Airlines miles for Etihad first class between Abu Dhabi and Seoul. This relatively long flight will only set you back 50,000 miles each way.
2. Short flights on American Airlines under 500 miles
In contrast to the very long flight mentioned above, short flights can also be a great deal with American miles. In fact, any American Airlines flight that’s less than 500 miles in distance will only set you back 7,500 American Airlines miles each way in economy class. As always, you’ll want to compare cash prices, because sometimes those flights can be pretty cheap too.
» Learn more: 5 of the best airline award sweet spots
3. Fly to Hawaii, especially off-peak
American Airlines offers great prices to Hawaii during certain off-peak times of the year. If you can manage to plan a trip and find award availability, this is a great opportunity to use your American Airlines miles. American Airlines considers the following to be off-peak dates for flights to Hawaii:
- Dec. 29 to March 12.
- Aug. 11 to Nov. 18.
- Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.
For travel from Hawaii, the following dates are considered off-peak:
- Jan. 7 to March 19.
- Aug. 18 to Nov. 27.
- Dec. 3 to Dec. 25.
If you can travel during those dates, you’re looking at redeeming just 20,000 miles each way for an economy flight. Compared with the standard price on other dates of 22,500 miles, you’ll have the chance to save 5,000 miles per round-trip ticket.
4. Business class to Japan or South Korea
American Airlines offers solid pricing on business class flights from the U.S. to Japan or South Korea. You’ll redeem 60,000 miles each way, regardless of whether you fly on American Airlines or a partner like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines. The same flights would cost 35,000 miles each way in economy class and 80,000 each way in first class.
If you do fly American Airlines, you can get there for a little bit less in economy if you can fly during off-peak dates. The off peak price is 32,500 miles in economy class. Off-peak dates vary based on where you are flying to:
- To Japan: Jan. 1 to April 30, July 1 to Nov 30.
- From Japan: Jan. 16 to April 19, May 2 to May 31, Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.
- To Korea: Jan. 1 to April 30, July 1 to Nov. 30.
- From Korea: Jan. 16 to May 31, Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.
The bottom line
American Airlines miles offer plenty of great opportunities to travel to different locations around the world, at different price points and in different classes of service. It’s worth researching whether it’s a good fit for your travel patterns.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best airline credit card for you
Which American Airlines credit card should you choose?
4 reasons to start collecting American Airlines AAdvantage miles
Financial News Go