With American AAdvantage’s Loyalty Points system, you can earn elite status without stepping foot on a plane. That’s not to say that you should do it, but you can. In addition to being able to earn Loyalty Points with credit card spending, you can also earn Loyalty Points with all kinds of other partner activity.
One of the most popular ways to earn Loyalty Points is by booking hotels in a way that earns AAdvantage miles. We’ve just seen some changes implemented to this, so I wanted to cover what you need to know.
The basics of American AAdvantage Hotels
Historically you could earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points for hotel stays most efficiently in one of two ways (the number of AAdvantage miles you’d earn would vary based on your exact stay):
- You could earn them with Rocketmiles, by selecting American AAdvantage as your preferred rewards currency
- You could earn them with AAHotels.com, which was powered by booking.com
This past week we saw major changes to this, as the new AAdvantage Hotels platform is now the best way to earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points for your hotel stays. This comes as American seems to have essentially consolidated its options for earning miles from hotel stays.
That’s because AAHotels.com now redirects to the new AAdvantage Hotels platform, while Rocketmiles has greatly decreased mileage earning with AAdvantage (clearly because of the launch of this new platform). For what it’s worth, AAdvantage Hotels is powered by Rocket Travel by Agoda, the same company behind Rocketmiles.
Earning Loyalty Points & miles with AAdvantage Hotels
AAdvantage Hotels is essentially an online travel agency, and with each booking you’ll see how many AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points you can expect to earn. Online travel agencies get a commission for hotel bookings, and AAdvantage Hotels is using some of that commission to reward customers who book through the platform.
A few things to note:
- When you search for a hotel stay, you’ll see the number of AAdvantage miles listed that you’ll earn; these will qualify as both redeemable miles and Loyalty Points
- Note that you earn significantly more rewards if you have elite status and a co-branded AAdvantage credit card, so you’ll want to be sure you’re logged in when searching hotels
- With the AAdvantage Loyalty Point Rewards system, you can earn a 20% Loyalty Points bonus with AAdvantage Hotels for six months when you pass 60,000 Loyalty Points, and you can earn a 30% Loyalty Points bonus with AAdvantage Hotels for six months when you pass 100,000 Loyalty Points; this won’t be reflected on the site, but if you’re eligible, you’ll earn that in addition (those are just Loyalty Points, and not redeemable miles)
- With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review), you’ll earn 10x miles on hotels booked through AAdvantage hotels; those 10x miles are redeemable miles, but you’ll only earn 1x Loyalty Points per dollar spent
When you search for hotels, you’ll notice vastly different mileage earning rates, which presumably reflects the commission amount that the hotel pays. You’ll see that the site lets you search by most miles earned. I like searching that way, though keep in mind that this isn’t the highest miles earned per dollar of hotel rate, but rather highest number of miles earned in absolute terms.
For example, take a couple of hotels in Tampa. When logged in as an elite member with a co-branded credit card, you can earn 4,000 AAdvantage miles at a Sleep Inn & Suites that costs $124, or you can earn 3,900 AAdvantage miles at a Marriott that costs $249.
Just to use the Sleep Inn & Suites as an example, let’s further crunch those numbers:
- Those 4,000 AAdvantage miles would be both Loyalty Points and redeemable miles
- If you passed the Loyalty Points threshold offering 30% bonus Loyalty Points, you’d earn an additional 1,200 Loyalty Points
- If you paid with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card after the upcoming changes, you’d earn 1,240 AAdvantage miles plus 124 additional Loyalty Points
- So all-in-all, you could earn up to 5,324 Loyalty Points and 5,240 AAdvantage miles
The catch with booking through AAdvantage Hotels
Of course it sounds great to be able to earn AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points for your hotel stays, so what’s the catch? Well, since this is a third party booking site, there are many disadvantages.
If you’re staying at a hotel belonging to a major hotel loyalty program, expect that you won’t be able to earn your rewards with programs like Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, etc. You also generally won’t receive any elite perks you’d otherwise be entitled to.
And regardless of the type of hotel you book:
- You’ll always want to compare the prices through AAdvantage Hotels to what you can otherwise find, because you might find lower prices elsewhere
- Generally third party bookings get last priority for room assignments, so if you want to have a great hotel stay, avoid booking through a third party
AAdvantage Hotels is a brilliant concept from American’s perspective, in the sense that the airline can essentially skim a commission on hotel bookings, and can keep people on the Loyalty Points hamster wheel. Personally I find there’s usually too much of an opportunity cost to booking that way, though I know others feel differently.
AAdvantage Hotels is American’s new platform for earning AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points for hotel bookings. In many cases the earnings rates aren’t quite as lucrative as before. However, between the up to 30% Loyalty Points boost through Loyalty Point Rewards, plus the up to 10x AAdvantage miles on spending, the rewards can certainly add up.
If you’re addicted to Loyalty Points, it could be worth booking some hotels this way. Just be aware of the opportunity cost. Personally I’d rather earn rewards with my preferred hotel loyalty program, and for luxury independent hotels would rather take advantage of programs offering elite-like perks.
What’s your take on AAdvantage Hotels?