Maximizing American Miles With Credit Card Bonuses

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Earlier in the week we learned about the next step of the integration between American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles. AAdvantage is more or less staying the same, while Dividend Miles will be merged into AAdvantage in the second quarter of next year.

American-Integration

Little is changing (for now), and that’s good

Compared to what’s going on in the rest of the industry, the lack of change is great news. I was expecting an award chart devaluation and wouldn’t have been surprised by a revenue requirement for status, though it looks like for the time being we’ve been spared. As the President of AAdvantage explained when I spoke to her earlier in the week, they’re focused on integration and not innovation, which is a smart move given what a big task it is to merge the two airlines.

So while I previously thought AAdvantage would publish a new award chart for early next year, I think it’s much more likely we’ll see a new award chart later next year or in early 2016. That means we have more time to redeem through AAdvantage and Dividend Miles at the current rates, which are among the best in the industry.

Qantas-First-Class
Redeem AAdvantage miles for Qantas first class

Best sign-up bonuses for American/US Airways miles

With that in mind, we’re continuing to see some fantastic sign-up bonuses for easily racking up AAdvantage and Dividend Miles.

The good thing is that for the time being Barclaycard is still issuing the US Airways co-branded credit card, while Citi is issuing the American co-branded credit card. They’re completely different products, and therefore you can potentially earn the sign-up bonus on several types of cards.

At the moment, the three most lucrative sign-up bonuses are as follows:

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

Current offer: 40,000 Dividend Miles after the first purchase
Annual fee: $89

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

Current offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, but waived the first year

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Current offer: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95, but waived the first year

That’s potentially 140,000+ AAdvantage miles when the programs merge in the second quarter of next year, with a single $89 annual fee and $6,000 of minimum spend.

These cards come with other potentially useful benefits as well, like waived bag fees, priority boarding, a 10% mileage refund on award tickets, etc.

Who’s eligible for these sign-up bonuses?

The tricky thing is that Citi and Barclaycard seem to have the most variance in terms of who’s eligible to earn a sign-up bonus multiple times. That’s to say that while Chase seems to pretty clearly publish who is and isn’t eligible for a sign-up bonus, Citi and Barclaycard aren’t necessarily as straightforward. Not only that, but even when they do publish rules, experiences seem to vary considerably from person to person.

Who’s eligible for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®? In general:

  • You can apply for at most one Citi card per week, and two Citi cards per 60 days (this includes both personal and business cards)
  • For personal Citi cards, you can typically only get approved for the same card after waiting at least 12-26 months since your previous approval
  • For business Citi cards, you can typically earn the bonus multiple times, assuming you close the previous card account first

Who’s eligible for The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®? In general:

  • You generally have to wait at least six months between applications of the same card
  • Your chances of being approved for multiple cards goes down considerably if you decide to call the reconsideration line
  • There’s a lot of variance in terms of peoples’ experiences, so some have no issue getting the card every six months even when the previous account is open, while others struggle with getting a second card even when they’ve already closed the previous accounts

There are a couple of great wikis on FlyerTalk I’d recommend checking out which provide useful data points as to peoples’ experience getting approved for the cards:

Bottom line

These aren’t cards I’d put a ton of spend on, but they’re a great opportunity to rack up lots of American miles with limited spend and low annual fees.

Now more than before I feel confident that AAdvantage and Dividend Miles won’t devalue their award chart in the near future, so I think it’s as good of a time as ever to rack up these miles.

Cathay-Pacific-777-First-Class
Redeem AAdvantage miles for Cathay Pacific first class

Links:

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Comments

  1. that’s so funny you chose to include pics of Qantas and Cathay F… the two awards that are nearly impossible these days…

  2. cathay F is hardly impossible. i’ve had no real trouble finding availability for multiple trips in the next year.

  3. CX only releases one F seat in advance. I need two for YVR-HKG-YVR and I don’t see two F seats in advance on that route. My ideal redemption would be 2 CX F seats on YVR-HKG-SYD-HKG-YVR for 2x140k US DM, but that looks impossible, and once USDM merges into AAdvantage in Q2 2015, the 140k rate will be gone.

  4. Just applied for the Platinum Card. Was asked to call the Reconsideration line, and was rejected, since I already have an American card with them. Boo hiss. Any thoughts about what I should say when I get the letter. (I have one Exec card, having cancelled the other before the $450 fee hit.)

  5. So I was pissed and decided to try for Barclay, even though I already have one. Immediate approval. Since I just spent 40k on two coach tix from Europe (Sorry Lucky, I know that pains you), basically I’m back to where I started for $89. (I am flying over Biz via WAW on the Dreamliner–45k on Aeroplan can’t be beat.)

  6. all those nasty comments… please look at Cathay F availability from JFK to HKG… there are 6 seats total available for the rest of the year… two of those are tomorrow and one is on Christmas. not much better next year. so please stop it.
    and no, i don’t want to transfer in Chicago or anywhere else.

  7. @ Lantean — Cathay first class is far from impossible. It’s the best use of American miles, and also what I use most of them for. Qantas first class is fairly readily available out of London.

  8. @ Lantean — To clarify, you’re judging Cathay Pacific first class award space based on one route over two months? Have you looked at options way in advance, or otherwise options with a connection?

  9. I have the distinct impression that CX First and Business space is less available no matter what the route and including last minute space. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just more difficult than before. Maybe it’s increased competition from fellow searchers. I would be happy to be proven wrong and also happy to hear any suggestions for better success.

  10. @Lucky

    it’s a little better in advance but not by much.

    and like i said, i don’t want to connect… unlike you i have limited vacation days and all my trips are planned with a very tight schedule… a missed connection could possibly mean i would have to cancel the trip completely… i don’t want to risk that.

    two days ago you admitted yourself CX F availability to/from JFK is terrible… now you changed your mind?

  11. @ Lantean — I’m not saying it hasn’t gotten harder (it has), but I am disagreeing with you calling it “nearly impossible.” If you have limited vacation time and want to fly nonstop, you shouldn’t have trouble finding that space if planning much further in advance then.

  12. You say theses aren’t cards you would put a lot of spend on. Why not? What cards do you put a lot spend on instead?

  13. Lucky, somewhat related: a question only you can answer.
    What are the best seats for a couple traveling together on QF 380 F?
    I think I prefer side by side (F&K) over two “A” seats, but judging by your pictures, it seems like the rows on F & K are offset so you can’t really see the other person? Would getting say 3F and 4K make more sense than 3F+3K?
    Or are the “A” seats the way to go?
    Thanks a ton!

  14. @ BD — The F & K seats are so far apart that you really won’t be able to talk regardless of which combination you choose. I’d really recommend two window seats, because if you’re not going to be able to talk while sitting you might as well both have a view and privacy on one aisle, in my opinion.

    Enjoy the trip!

  15. Thanks Lucky! We picked 4A+5A (the other A’s are taken). Miraculously found two F seats on SYD-DXB, so should be a good ride. And for 60k AA miles, it’s a steal.

  16. Lucky;

    1) I have 57,000 AA EQM. I have two Usairways credit cards. Theoretically, if I were to spend 25K on each in 2014, that would give me 20,000 Usair Preferred Miles. So I would have a total of 77,000 EQM when the programs combine. Does that mean I would need to fly 23,000 miles by Dec 31 to qualify for exec plat til Feb 2016? That seems like a better option for me than the challenge.

    2) Do all USairways credit cards come with the EQM offer? I am not seeing it on the current sign up page.

    3) When does the USairways credit cards and citi AA Exec card renew itself… can you requalify for the EQM’s each calendar year or based on 12 months from initial sign-up?

    Thanks for helping out. So many ways to get Exec Plat right now.

  17. Lucky, I have AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard which I got in April, will i get signup bonus if apply for Platinum Select now? Are they considered same product?

  18. @ Charles —

    1) Yep, that would work, and is probably your best bet.
    2) Yep, it’s now a standard offering on the card.
    3) You should be able to earn the EQMs on each card each calendar year.

  19. @Lantean – So you don’t have flexibility with routes or dates, and then conclude that CX F is impossible? Okaaay.

  20. @Lantean – Your requirements are what make the miles game inappropriate for some people. If you have little flexibility with dates and/or destinations flying on award tickets doesn’t work IMO.

  21. Lucky, Do you know when the 5000 mile discount on UsAir awards will go away when you use a UsAir Barclay’s MasterCard?

  22. @Dan

    like i said, i have some flexibility with dates, but i prefer not to transfer unless i have to, especially on the outbound (on the return a missed connection is usually much less of a problem)… but even with the dates flexibility that i have… there were 6 seats TOTAL available from JFK for the rest of the year… does that seems plentiful to anyone?

    all this used to be so much easier two years ago… ANY flight from JFK to HKG had at least 2 F seats,

  23. @ Lantean — Right, the “rest of the year” = two months, and two weeks of that are among the busiest travel period of the year. If you’re not willing to connect then I’d generally recommend trying to book more than two months in advance, so you can maximize the chances of getting the flights you want.

    I agree all of this used to be easier, but I don’t think anything is to blame here. Cathay Pacific has only six first class seats, and all things considered continues to be extremely generous with releasing space.

    I just think it’s important to distinguish between a product being “nearly impossible” to snag, and them just not releasing space on your exact preferred routing (which also happens to be their highest yield route) with advance notice within two months of departure. The two are quite different, in my opinion.

  24. So i did some work for find out JFK-HKG F availability for next year:

    jan 0
    feb 0
    mar 1
    apr 1
    may 0
    jun 0
    jul 3
    aug 6
    sep 4

    how is this considered plentiful??? can someone please enlighten me?
    thx

  25. How does Barclay feel about an application for a second US Airways card if you currently have one (kept it because of the 10k anniversary bonus)? I heard that it used to be possible. I applied around 20 months ago for my first one.

  26. @ CardinalandGoldFan — Many report luck getting a new card even when the previous one is still open, so I’d give it a shot.

  27. Sorry I missed this when it first appeared. I have had the Citi Amex and Visa AA cards (personal) for a few years. I assume since this plat MC is a new product I would qualify for the bonus. But I wonder if they would approve me since I already have 2 AA products that I barely use.

  28. @ RakSiam — There’s a good chance they would approve you, though they are sometimes inconsistent. So can’t guarantee it, but think there’s a very good chance.

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