For those who are new to points, I think it often helps to provide a simple strategy that allows people to earn a lot of miles quickly, so they can see the value in points. After all, if people can experience the benefits of redeeming miles firsthand, they’re much more likely to be engaged in the future. In general I prefer cards that earn transferrable points currencies for my everyday spend, though there are some airline credit cards that have big welcome bonuses, as well as valuable perks for holding onto the cards.
Of airline cards, there’s no airline that allows you to earn as many miles in a short period of time as American, given that they have co-brand credit card agreements with both Barclaycard and Citi. That means two banks are competing for your business, rather than just one. The three most compelling welcome bonuses are as follows, and allow you to earn 180,000+ miles (these are all best-ever offers):
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is offering 60,000 AAdvantage miles after making $3,000 of purchases within the first three months; the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is offering 70,000 AAdvantage miles after making $4,000 of purchases within the first four months; the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months
- The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is offering 60,000 AAdvantage miles after making one purchase within 90 days; the card has a $95 annual fee
I think the advice can be simplified even further for those who aren’t eligible and/or who don’t want to apply for business credit cards.
If that’s the case, then the simplest way you can earn the most miles directly in a single airline program quickly is by applying for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard the same day:
- The Citi card offers 60,000 miles after spending $3,000, and has the first year’s annual fee waived
- The Barclaycard offer 60,000 miles after making one purchase, and has a $95 annual fee
Altogether you’d need to spend $3,000 plus make an additional purchase, and you’d pay a total of $95 in fees the first year. Then you’d have 120,000+ AAdvantage miles.
That’s enough for a roundtrip business class tickets to many points in the world, and for other destinations you’ll be within 15,000-30,000 miles of having enough for a roundtrip ticket.
115,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe
As a reminder, here’s American’s partner award chart for one-way travel in business & first class:
|Contiguous 48 U.S. To:||Business Class||First Class|
|Contiguous 48 U.S. States||25,000||50,000|
|Canada & Alaska||30,000||55,000|
|South America Zone 1||30,000||55,000|
|South America Zone 2||57,500||85,000|
|Middle East / India||70,000||115,000|
|Asia Zone 1||60,000||80,000|
|Asia Zone 2||70,000||110,000|
Since one card is issued by Barclaycard and one is issued by Citi, you can be approved for both cards the same day.
If you don’t have one card or the other, I think this is a great strategy to take. 120,000+ miles with limited spend and limited annual fees the first year is pretty awesome. That’s why I recommend the combination of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.