Guide To American AAdvantage Dining Program

Guide To American AAdvantage Dining Program

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As of 2022, American Airlines is introducing the new Loyalty Points system for status qualification. What this means is that your AAdvantage status won’t just be based on your flying activity, but it’ll also be based on how many miles you earn through non-flying activities.

It’ll be possible to earn Loyalty Points with several AAdvantage partners, including the American AAdvantage Dining program. So in this post I wanted to take a closer look at how that works, since I think quite a few people may want to take another look at the program.

Basics of American AAdvantage Dining

Several airline loyalty programs have dining programs, whereby you can earn bonus miles by registering for a dining program, linking an eligible credit card, and then dining at a participating restaurant while paying with your linked card. One of those programs is American AAdvantage Dining, where you can earn bonus AAdvantage miles (and as of 2022, Loyalty Points) when dining out at select restaurants, cafes, and bars.

How do the economics of this work? The restaurants are paying some sort of a commission on revenue earned through customers enrolled in this program. Admittedly a lot of restaurants have been struggling during the pandemic, but at least historically most of the participating restaurants have been in need of more business, and in many cases not amazing.

The beauty of the program is that you can always just take a look at what restaurants are eligible, and decide if any are worth it.

How do you register for American AAdvantage Dining?

Registering for American AAdvantage Dining is fast and free. You just have to provide your name, zip code, American AAdvantage number, and select a password. You need to be an AAdvantage member to participate, though your log-in will be separate from your AAdvantage account.

Note that at the moment new members can earn 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when they spend $25 or more on dining within the first 30 days.

Which restaurants participate in American AAAdvantage Dining?

Thousands of restaurants throughout the United States participate in American AAdvantage Dining, and you can search them by location here. You might be surprised by just how many restaurants in your area participate.

The beauty of the program is that there’s nothing that has to be “activated” every time you dine. Rather you’re rewarded whenever you use a linked card at a participating restaurant. I’ve sometimes accidentally been rewarded for dining through the program, in the sense that I wasn’t even seeking out an AAdvantage Dining restaurant, but happened to eat at one.

With each participating American AAdvantage Dining location you’ll want to check about any restrictions:

  • Some locations only award miles certain days of the week, presumably based on how busy they are
  • There’s generally a dollar limit as to how much spending you can be rewarded for at a particular location in a month (though it’s typically in the thousands of dollars, so shouldn’t be an issue for most people)

Also keep in mind that you’ll only be rewarded if you make a purchase directly with that merchant. If you use a food delivery service like Uber Eats or DoorDash, you’ll typically be billed by the delivery service rather than the restaurant, and therefore won’t be eligible for rewards.

Which credit card can you use with American AAdvantage Dining?

American AAdvantage Dining requires you to link a debit or credit card. Virtually all cards qualifies, so I’d recommend linking one of the best cards for dining spending. The reason you need to link the card is so that you can be rewarded when you make an eligible dining purchase.

You can link an unlimited number of cards to your American AAdvantage Dining profile. The only catch is that you can’t have linked the same card to another loyalty program’s dining program (since they’re almost all run by Rewards Network).

How many miles do you earn with American AAdvantage Dining?

The number of miles you earn through American AAdvantage Dining depends on how many purchases you make, and also whether you choose to accept email communications from the program:

  • Basic members earn 1x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent, if they elect not to receive email communications from AAdvantage Dining
  • Select members earn 3x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent, if they elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining
  • VIP members earn 5x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent, if they elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining and have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year (so VIP status kicks in starting with the 12th qualified transaction)

Personally I value AAdvantage miles at 1.5 cents each, so to me earning 5x AAdvantage miles would be the equivalent of an incremental 7.5% return on dining spending. What makes this even better, though, is that as of 2022 those miles are qualifying Loyalty Points, so will qualify towards your elite status. Then there are also credit cards offering significant rewards for dining spending, which is on top of that.

Is American AAdvantage Dining worth it?

Obviously it’s not worth overpaying for a bad meal just so that you can earn bonus miles. That being said, you might be surprised by some of the restaurants in the area on your list. For example, in my area, one of my favorite restaurants and one of my favorite coffee shops are both on the list.

So not only can I earn bonus AAdvantage miles for spending with those businesses, but as of 2022 dining out will even help me earn AAdvantage elite status.

Personally I think the AAdvantage Dining program is, at a minimum, worth being aware of, and worth keeping an eye on. And if your loyalty is with another airline program, then I’d recommend checking out that program’s dining portal, because most major airlines in the United States have one.

I would argue that the American AAdvantage Dining program will soon be most lucrative, given the status angle.

Bottom line

American AAdvantage Dining offers up to 5x AAdvantage miles for purchases at select restaurants with linked cards. As of 2022, miles earned through AAdvantage Dining will qualify as Loyalty Points, and will count towards elite status.

If you haven’t yet taken a look at AAdvantage Dining, it’s a program that’s worth keeping in mind. And if you time your first purchase right, the welcome bonus of 1,000 AAdvantage miles for spending $25 could even count towards 2022’s Loyalty Points.

Is the new Loyalty Points system changing whether or not you’ll participate in the AAdvantage Dining program?

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  1. Ryle Guest

    I'm confused by the card combination for maximum earning. If I'm reading correctly, you're better off using a non AA branded credit card? Do you then convert points? Or you spend $10 and the card gives you 2x =20 points and the AA Dining then multiplies that? I'm usually pretty good at following this and actually accrued a fair amount of extra AA Miles using the program 5-6 years ago. I believe it was 10x...

    I'm confused by the card combination for maximum earning. If I'm reading correctly, you're better off using a non AA branded credit card? Do you then convert points? Or you spend $10 and the card gives you 2x =20 points and the AA Dining then multiplies that? I'm usually pretty good at following this and actually accrued a fair amount of extra AA Miles using the program 5-6 years ago. I believe it was 10x miles then too for VIP or whatever. And as someone mentioned, end of the year you'd go to a place multiple times for one thing. Or in my case, I'd hit the bar of the restaurant and tab out 4-5, whatever number of times/transactions I needed to requalify. And yes I compensated the staff for the hassle. Anyhow, Maybe I could ask this way : What's the ultimate setup for taking full advantage of the AA Dining program for earning Loyalty Points?

  2. Eskimo Guest

    Some stupid influencer should eat their way to EXP.

    Eating out for $40k isn't really a lot consider how these people are injecting stupid or crazy stuff to our youths today. Especially YouTubers that came to fame by complaining about iPhones, donating Beast stuff, or wasting parents' money for funny content, etc.

    I invite any YouTuber dumb enough, try to eat your way to elite EXP.
    Bonus if you actually make Concierge Key...

    Some stupid influencer should eat their way to EXP.

    Eating out for $40k isn't really a lot consider how these people are injecting stupid or crazy stuff to our youths today. Especially YouTubers that came to fame by complaining about iPhones, donating Beast stuff, or wasting parents' money for funny content, etc.

    I invite any YouTuber dumb enough, try to eat your way to elite EXP.
    Bonus if you actually make Concierge Key through dining.
    How much weight will you gain?

  3. Viking Guest

    I have been a member of the AAdvantage Dining Program for years and my participation with it varies over time, probably the main contributor being how often I have to manually submit my meal requests because their internal processes for tabulating spent dollars doesn't capture my visit. This year, I probably had to do it 5 times. Very annoying!

  4. DCS Guest

    I charge my meals in the U.S. on the AMEX Biz Gold, which simultaneously earns me 4x AMEX MR points and 5x UA miles as a VIP in UA Dining. The CSR: 3x UR points and 5x UA miles. The AMEX HH Aspire: 7x HH points (that count as base points until 12/2022) and 5x UA miles....

    Not bad at all.

  5. D3kingg Guest

    So a vip and use of the citi Aadvantage world elite MasterCard would get 7 LPs per $1 ?
    I don’t believe it.

  6. Jim Guest

    A possibility you might want to address...if one has an AA co-branded card, does one essentially "double dip"; i.e., earn 1, 3 or 5 miles/dollar spent (depending on one's status with AA Dining Rewards) plus an additional mile/dollar for using the AA co-branded card?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jim -- You could indeed, but if you ask me, the opportunity cost of putting dining spending on a co-branded AAdvantage card is simply too high, given the number of points you're forgoing.

    2. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      @ben So I'm VIP on the dining program, so I earn 5 miles per dollar at those places, plus 2 per dollar on my AA card. So even at 7 miles per dollar (in some cases) I'm still losing out compared to say 1% back on Discover or 1.5% on Chase?

    3. Pam Guest

      Every Dec I get an email from the program of how many more visits I need to keep 5x VIP. Then I spend $2 a pop on a kids cup at an ice cream shop for how many visits I still need. I guess that’s “dairy running?”

      I make 3-4 extra thous AA miles a yr by keeping VIP usually by accidentally landing on a restaurant while out of town. And the program sometimes runs...

      Every Dec I get an email from the program of how many more visits I need to keep 5x VIP. Then I spend $2 a pop on a kids cup at an ice cream shop for how many visits I still need. I guess that’s “dairy running?”

      I make 3-4 extra thous AA miles a yr by keeping VIP usually by accidentally landing on a restaurant while out of town. And the program sometimes runs 200+ extra point promos which further helps to bump up total miles for the yr.

      Biggest hurdle is keeping my updated credit cards linked.

    4. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      Yes. It says as much on the AADVANTAGE Dining site as well. Your "restaurant bonus" category is from your card issuer, this is not.

    5. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      Benjamin you're losing out by not using a card that earns 3x or 4x if you have them. Considering all of those equal you'd be earning 8x or 9x.

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DCS Guest

I charge my meals in the U.S. on the AMEX Biz Gold, which simultaneously earns me 4x AMEX MR points and 5x UA miles as a VIP in UA Dining. The CSR: 3x UR points and 5x UA miles. The AMEX HH Aspire: 7x HH points (that count as base points until 12/2022) and 5x UA miles.... Not bad at all.

1
Pam Guest

Every Dec I get an email from the program of how many more visits I need to keep 5x VIP. Then I spend $2 a pop on a kids cup at an ice cream shop for how many visits I still need. I guess that’s “dairy running?” I make 3-4 extra thous AA miles a yr by keeping VIP usually by accidentally landing on a restaurant while out of town. And the program sometimes runs 200+ extra point promos which further helps to bump up total miles for the yr. Biggest hurdle is keeping my updated credit cards linked.

1
Ryle Guest

I'm confused by the card combination for maximum earning. If I'm reading correctly, you're better off using a non AA branded credit card? Do you then convert points? Or you spend $10 and the card gives you 2x =20 points and the AA Dining then multiplies that? I'm usually pretty good at following this and actually accrued a fair amount of extra AA Miles using the program 5-6 years ago. I believe it was 10x miles then too for VIP or whatever. And as someone mentioned, end of the year you'd go to a place multiple times for one thing. Or in my case, I'd hit the bar of the restaurant and tab out 4-5, whatever number of times/transactions I needed to requalify. And yes I compensated the staff for the hassle. Anyhow, Maybe I could ask this way : What's the ultimate setup for taking full advantage of the AA Dining program for earning Loyalty Points?

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