Best Credit Cards For American Airlines Miles

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Updated: 6 days ago

American Airlines is one of the “Big Three” US airlines and one of the world’s largest airlines. A founding member of the OneWorld global alliance, they fly to several hundred destinations across the US and the world. While they certainly receive a fair bit of criticism, American still deserves a lot of credit for doing many things well. Whether you are a casual traveller connecting in Miami to the Caribbean a few times per year, or a road warrior traveling every week from Dallas, it makes sense that you’d want to find the best credit cards for earning American miles and other benefits.

Best American Airlines Credit Card Offers of July 2019

American credit cards are issued by both Citi and Barclays, and there are five different cards to choose from. That means there are a variety of American Airlines credit card offers out there. To make things a bit more complicated, the different agreements with both Citi and Barclays mean each of these cards is marketed in unique ways.

If you are new to American, here’s a quick history recap on why they (unlike their other major US airline counterparts) have co-branded cards with two issuers.

  • In 2013, American Airlines and US Airways merged
  • Pre-merger American had a partnership with Citi, and US Airways had a partnership with Barclays
  • The new American decided they could maximize their profits by having a non-exclusive cobrand agreement, with each issuer receiving different marketing rights

What this means for us today is that Citi cards can be advertised on American’s website, through the mail, and in Admirals Clubs, while Barclays products can be advertised in airports and on flights.

Each of these cards has a separate welcome bonus, but you can typically expect to earn tens of thousands of bonus AAdvantage miles when you’re approved for an American credit card and meet the minimum spending requirements. These offers do change frequently, but OMAAT keeps this page updated as the deals and offers fluctuate. In general the premium cards (with higher annual fees) offer more introductory miles, and better ongoing benefits, but they can all be good options depending on your circumstances. Here are the best American credit card offers available today:

Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Annual Fee: $0*
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer
Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*

Card Details
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for each $1 spent at grocery stores, including grocery delivery services*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
• Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
• Save 25% on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*

on Citi's secure site
Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

This is a fantastic bonus, especially as these miles can be pooled with any miles you’re earning on your personal account.

Current Offer
• Designed for businesses
• Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases in first 3 months of account opening*
• First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries to reduce travel costs and boost your bottom line*
• 25% savings on American Airlines inflight Wi-Fi when you use your card*
• Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on purchases at telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and at gas stations*
• Earn 1 AAdvantage® mile per $1 spent on other purchases*
• No Foreign Transaction Fees*

on Citi's secure site
50,000 AAdvantage miles

AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $95
The card details for the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why we like this card

Current Offer
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. Plus earn an introductory Companion Certificate good for 1 guest at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.

Card Details
Earn 2X miles on eligible American Airlines purchases; Earn 1X miles on all other purchases; First checked bag free and preferred boarding for the primary cardmember and up to 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines; Receive 25% inflight savings on food and beverages; Get up to $25 back as statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases every anniversary year on American Airlines operated flights

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Annual Fee: $99, waived for first 12 months*
on Citi's secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer
• Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at restaurants*
• Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases*
• Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card*
• No Foreign Transaction Fees* • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
• Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights*
• Receive 25% savings on inflight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*

on Citi's secure site

How To Earn The Most AA Miles

There are countless ways to earn the most American AAdvantage miles, through a mix of flying and savvy credit card use. While the portfolio of American credit cards offer great benefits when you’re flying American, there are actually other lucrative ways to boost your AAdvantage balance! Even if you make a lot of purchases directly with American, which all co-branded cards offer bonus miles for spending on AA, there are several options available to maximize those purchases even more.

This is because American is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy. This means points earned there can be transferred directly to American, at a rate of 3:1. In addition, for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus AAdvantage miles. So, 60,000 Marriott points becomes 25,000 AAdvantage miles. Marriott Bonvoy points are a bit more flexible than AAdvantage miles, given their range of partners. Bonvoy points can be easy to earn as well, because their cards have good returns on spend. Depending on which Marriott Bonvoy card you choose, you could earn up to:

  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping
  • 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases

No one card offers all of these earnings rates, but the portfolio means it’s easy to choose a card that will allow you to earn the most on the purchases you’re already making. So, if you’re interested in diversifying your options a bit and giving yourself more options to earn American miles quickly, you’ll want to check out these cards and their earning structures:

50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points

The Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (Canada)

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.5%
Annual Fee: $120 CAD
Conditions apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Marriott points are very valuable as they can be used for hotels and/or airline transfers. This is a great way of earning miles with programs that you otherwise wouldn't be able to earn via credit card spend, such as Japan Airlines.

Current Offer
• New Marriott Bonvoy™* American Express® Cardmembers earn 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points enough for 3 free nights at a Category 2 hotel after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.*Offer subject to change at any time
• Earn 5 points for every dollar in eligible Card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy™* properties.
• Earn 2 points for every $1 in all other Card purchases
• Receive an Annual Free Night Award for up to 35,000 points at eligible hotels and resorts worldwide every year after your first anniversary
• No annual fee on Additional Cards
• Redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at over 7,000 of the world’s most desired hotels
• Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status membership
• Receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy™American Express® Card. These can be used towards attaining the next level of Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program
• Enjoy an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on the Card each year
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply

on American Express' secure site
50,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points

Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card (Canada)

Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.5%
Annual Fee: $150 CAD
Conditions apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Marriott points are very valuable as they can be used for hotels and/or airline transfers. This is a great way of earning miles with programs that you otherwise wouldn't be able to earn via credit card spend, such as Japan Airlines.

Current Offer
• Earn 50,000 Welcome Bonus Marriott Bonvoy™ points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership. Offer subject to change at any time.
• Receive an Annual Free Night Award automatically each year after your anniversary
• Enjoy an automatic upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status when you reach $30,000 in purchases on your Card each year
• Receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card. These can be used towards attaining the next level of Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
• You can earn 3 points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible gas, dining and travel
• Earn 5 points for every $1 in Card purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties. Earn 2 points for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card everywhere else
• Make the most of a suite of business management tools that give you more control over your business anytime and anywhere
• Redeem points for free nights with no blackout dates at over 7,000 of some of the world's most extraordinary hotels and resorts around the globe. Use your points for flights on some of the world's leading airlines
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply

on American Express' secure site
Earn 50,000 Bonus Points

Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $0
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

As no-fee Marriott co-brand card, with no foreign transactions, this card is a nice alternative if you want to keep your Marriott points alive without having to worry about annual fees. The 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year qualifies you for Silver Elite status, and helps you achieve a higher level of status with Marriott.

Current Offer
Introducing the new Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card from CHASE® with no annual fee! Earn 50,000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card!

Card Details
Earn 3X points for every $1 spent at 6,900+ participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).

on Chase's secure site
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $450
The card details for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card have been collected independently by OMAAT and have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

Current Offer
Earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer ends 04/24/2019.

Card Details
• Earn 6x points on eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels
• Earn 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
• Earn 2x points on all other eligible purchases
• Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott hotels
• Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary valid for redemption for a single night up to 50,000 points.
• Complimentary Gold Elite Status

on American Express' secure site
Earn 75,000 Bonus Points

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
Annual Fee: $95
on Chase's secure site
Why we like this card

The way I view it, this is a card that’s worth holding onto for the anniversary free night certificate, valid at a hotel that retails for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night. That benefit alone should more than justify the annual fee.

Current Offer
Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!

Card Details
Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at over 6,900 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2X points everywhere else.

on Chase's secure site
Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Annual Fee: $125
Terms Apply
on American Express' secure site
Why we like this card

This card is worth keeping for Anniversary free night certificate, plus the 15 nights towards elite status annually. And the 6x points per dollar for Marriott stays certainly doesn't hurt!

Current Offer
Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Card Details

  • Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
  • 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
on American Express' secure site

Of course, it can’t be ignored that another way to earn the most American miles, is by actual flying! When you buy a ticket on American, the amount of AAdvantage miles earned is directly related to the cost of that ticket. For those of you who have had your frequent flier account for many years, you may remember the good ol’ days when you earned miles based on how far you flew. However, American still awards miles the old-fashioned way when flying on partner airlines, and crediting to the AAdvantage program. This opens a lot of opportunities to earn thousands more miles than normal, especially if you frequently travel overseas.

Lastly, if you are planning a major trip or have been eyeing that dream redemption, and find yourself a bit short, it can occasionally make sense to outright purchase AA miles. Thankfully, American often runs sales on purchasing miles.

American Airlines Credit Card Benefits

The American Airlines credit card portfolio still makes sense for many of us, whether you step foot on an American plane once a year or once a week. That’s because American Airlines credit card benefits can make travel on American just a bit more enjoyable. Here are some of those benefits that you won’t want to miss:

  1. Free Checked Bags on American — All American credit cards (except for the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card) let you check your first bag for free on domestic itineraries. This benefit is actually extended to up to four other passengers traveling on the same reservation as well. At $30 per bag, per direction, this benefit can add up quick!
  2. Earn Double Miles on American Purchases — All American credit cards (even the no-annual fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card) earn 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with American.
  3. Preferred Boarding — A benefit of the American cards with an annual fee is the opportunity to board your flight early. If you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, or AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®, you have preferred boarding in Group 5. If you have the higher annual fee Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, you have priority boarding in Group 4. Either way, you’ll usually be onboard before at least half the plane, giving you a better chance to secure overhead bin space for your carry-on close to your seat.
  4. In-Flight Savings — Each of the American credit cards can save you money on your in-flight purchases. Simply use your card for eligible purchases when flying American (this includes stuff like meals, drinks, and headsets, but excludes wifi), and you’ll receive a 25% savings in the form of a statement credit. Plus, since these count as American purchases, you’re earning 2x Miles! On top of that discount, Aviator Red cardholders can also receive up to a $25 credit each year to cover in-flight wi-fi purchases.
  5. Admirals Club Access — If you travel frequently through an airport with an Admirals Club, this could become on of your favorite benefits. Cardholders of the higher annual fee Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® receive an Admirals Club membership. While you won’t find gourmet dining inside, access to the lounge can be an oasis from the terminal, and comes with complimentary snacks, coffee, drinks and friendly customer service agents. Before you shy away from the high annual fee, it’s worth noting that you can add authorized users to your account for no extra charge, and each also receive Admirals Club access when flying American.
  6. Shortcut to Elite Status — Status on American is earned by a somewhat confusing metric known as Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM). There are only two ways to earn EQM: actual flying and spending on the Citi Executive card. If you spend $40,000 within a calendar year on the card, you will earn 10,000 EQMs, making elite status a bit more attainable. While that’s a substantial spend requirement (and there are arguably better rewards to earn), if you travel often enough, elite status can actually make travel more enjoyable!
  7. No Foreign Transaction Fees — We’d recommend other cards for international travel, but if you happen to use any American card besides the MileUp overseas, you won’t pay an extra fee.
  8. Reduced Mileage Award Access — Obviously the reason we collect these miles is to actually use them! Cardholders of any American credit card with an annual fee (again, everything but the MileUp) have the ability to save up to 7,500 miles per round-trip. Each quarter, American publishes a list of eligible routes – there are often dozens of destinations to choose from.
  9. Flight Discounts & Companion Tickets — Again, the American cards are not the most rewarding for significant spend each year, but there are several perks available to those who use their card frequently. The Citi Platinum offers a $125 flight discount certificate for spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year. The Citi Business Platinum offers a companion certificate for spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. The Aviator Red offers a companion certificate for spending $20,000 in a calendar year.

So, which is the best credit card for American flyers?

Best Overall (Plus best for elite status)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Apply Now
Best for Business (Including business spending)
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®Apply Now
Best for lounge access
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Apply Now
Best for Earning Miles (Great bonus categories)
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®Apply Now
Best for free checked bags (Ideal for occasional travelers)
AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®OMAAT review
Best for no annual fee
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ CardApply Now

It really depends on your situation! The good news is you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Typically, you can be eligible for multiple welcome bonuses over time on these cards, as long as you meet certain requirements. This means that if your needs change and you suddenly are traveling more (or less), you can re-evaluate what is best for you.

Overall, we’d recommend starting with a card like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or the AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®. Both these cards have attractive welcome bonuses, low annual fees, and offer great value to even the most casual American flyer. Whichever American Airlines credit card you decide is best for you, we recommend considering all your options to ensure you maximize everything on the way to your next trip!

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Comments
  1. Meh. At the risk of sounding like DCS, I wouldn’t plan my world for AA around Marriott. They’re a better choice for United. And people who like no suite upgrades and crap breakfasts, no matter how fancy your table of elements position is.

    It’s worth updating this to mention the Hyatt hotel tie-in benefits. And a breakdown of cards and spend types vs points earned would be great, too.

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