How The AAdvantage Credit Card 10% Mileage Rebate Works

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American AAdvantage has credit cards issued by both Citi and Barclaycard, and between the five products available there are a lot of potential benefits you can get. Here are the welcome bonuses presently available on the five cards:

Personally, I think the cards with the 60,000-70,000 mile welcome bonuses are most worth applying for right now, as they’re the best offers we’ve seen on the cards. This includes the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.

One of the benefits that I find most worthwhile on a couple of these cards is the 10% refund on redeemed miles, for a maximum refund of up to 10,000 miles per year.

In this post I wanted to answer some of the most common questions I get about this perk:

What cards are eligible for the 10% mileage refund?

This benefit is exclusively available on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. That’s right, this is only available on the personal versions of the cards, and not the business versions. Since I redeem at least 100,000 American miles per year, this means I’m getting 10,000 bonus miles per year due to having one of these cards, which more than justifies the $95-99 annual fee. That’s like picking up miles for 0.95 cents each.

How quickly do the refunded miles post?

The terms state that the miles will post within 6-8 weeks of an eligible redemption, though in practice they typically post much faster than that. In my experience, they typically post the same time that the miles for an award are debited.


What kind of redemptions are eligible for the refund?

Just about all mileage redemptions make you eligible for the 10% refund. This should include award tickets, upgrades, redeeming miles for Admirals Club memberships, etc.

How does the 10,000-mile limit work?

You’re limited to a refund of up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles per calendar year. The refund occurs based on when you book travel, and not based on when you actually travel. So even if you’re booking a ticket for travel next year, you’d be eligible for the 10% mileage refund for this year.

What happens if you cancel an award ticket after being refunded?

If you book an award ticket, get the 10% refund, and then later cancel the award ticket, the mileage refund will be reversed as well. So there’s not a way to “trick” the system by booking a trip and then later refunding it.

There’s actually a further issue there. If you cancel a ticket on which you received a mileage refund, the refund gets reversed, but it still counts towards your 10,000-mile yearly limit. That’s unfortunate, since for whatever reason the system doesn’t let you earn that refund again.

Do you need to use an American credit card to trigger the 10% refund?

No. You get the 10% refund regardless of which credit card you use to pay your taxes on an award ticket. It also doesn’t matter who the ticket is for. All that matters is that the AAdvantage miles are redeemed out of the primary cardmember’s account.

Do you need to register to take advantage of the 10% refund?

No, it’s automatic. Just make sure you’re redeeming miles out of the primary cardmember’s account.

What happens if you have both the Citi and Barclaycard products?

Unfortunately, you can only get this benefit with one card or the other, and not both. So if you have both cards, you’re still limited to a refund of 10,000 miles, as the limit is linked to your AAdvantage account, rather than to the individual credit cards. There’s no way to trick the system there.

Bottom line

My single favorite benefit of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard is the 10% annual mileage refund, which I view as an opportunity to pick up miles for 0.95 cents each. The cards have great welcome bonus of 60,000 AAdvantage miles that make them worth applying for, though for me this is the key benefit that makes one of these cards a keeper for anyone who redeems 100,000+ American miles per year. Personally, I have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, though either card is great, in my opinion.

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  1. I cancelled a ticket and the refund was “credited back”. When I later booked another ticket, the refund was issued. So I disagree that you can’t use it again. This was all within the same calendar year and this happened when I used the 10K credit on the ticket that was cancelled.

  2. @Lucky
    I don’t think you included a situation that I encountered several years ago. I made a reservation in 2015 for award travel in 2016 and received my 10,000 mile refund. In 2016 I made a change to the reservation which required additional miles. American handles that by reinstating the original miles and withdrawing the new mileage. During this process they apparently reversed the refund and then gave it to me again. So no net refund here.
    Later that year I made another reservation for award travel but they did not give me the 10% refund. After many long and wasted calls with AA customer service, I was told that I had officially received the 10% refund for the current year in the reissuance earlier in the year and as no longer eligible for the rest of the year.
    My position is that AA’s way of handling reservation changes “screwed” me out of a 10000 mile rebate I should have received.

  3. The 10k cap is what keeps this from being a truly valuable benefit. A International RT redemption in J or F will get capped at around 7%….and that’s it for the year.

  4. I concur with what Vasya says. I booked on Itinerary for next year and ended up canceling and rebooking another flight. The rebate was reversed and then issued again when I made the new booking.
    I’ve read a few FT posts that state the same as you Lucky that the rebate is only good one time for the year, and if you cancel you wont get it again. So I was surprised when I did get it again. Maybe this is a recent change.

  5. Anyone know how this affects being able to upgrade an award ticket? Example: 60K RT Mile SAAver award redeemed, got 6K refund. If I want to make it a Business SAAver instead, does my account need to have 55,000 miles (115K – 60K) or 49,000 miles (115K – 66K) in order to upgrade to the next class up?

  6. The refund issue was fixed around early 2016. I have cancelled and rebooked 10+ times and has worked fine since. Had many lengthy calls during the issue days prior to that.

  7. My question is who actually pays the cost of 10K miles if you have both Citi and Barclays AA credit cards. Thanks.

  8. I got my full 10K back this year for the first time, and it’s a fantastic value. It’s essentially 2/3rds of a r/t flight to my small hometown airport, or about $400. So yes, it’s absolutely worth it in some cases, and is one of the few reasons I keep using AA miles.

  9. I believe there was a recent positive change to the rebate. EP agents confirmed it’s now a retrospective approach. For example, one redeemed 70k in Jan and 50k in Aug, and 100k in Sept. First you got 7k back in rebate, then 3k back for the second PNR, and nothing for the third. If you cancel it now, your 7k rebate from the first PNR will be reverted, in the meanwhile, you would get 5k back from the second and 5k back from the 100k redemption. Other EPs also confirmed this in the group

  10. I’m coming back to answer my own question about upgrading an award ticket. To go from a 60K RT Econ MileSAAver award ticket to a Business SAAver 115K RT ticket, I only needed 49K miles.

  11. I just booked an AA award flight but don’t yet have the AA credit card. If I get the credit card after booking N award flight, can I retroactively get the 10% in moles back?

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