How to Hit the Jackpot on American Airlines Miles

There’s no better way to quickly accumulate a stash of points or miles than to apply for a credit card with a hefty signup bonus. Occasionally, competition between banks provides consumers with an unexpected bonanza. One such opportunity is the American Airlines credit card market shared by Barclays and Citibank.

When US Airways merged with American back in 2015, the new mega-airline was faced with a challenge: Barclays was the exclusive issuer of US Airways cards, while Citi had the sole rights to AA. After much negotiation, a compromise was reached: both banks were allowed to continue issuing cards, but Barclays could only market theirs in airports and on board flights. That distinction has almost disappeared by now, and the Barclays AA cards are promoted widely on the web.

If you have a good credit score and haven’t applied for a slew of credit cards lately, you’re in a position to quickly gain a large pile of AA miles. Before you do so, though, how valuable are those miles? Frequent flyers complain about American’s lack of award space, particularly at the Saver level, but the best use of AA miles may be with partner airlines. You can redeem American miles with their 13 Oneworld alliance partners, as well as six additional partner carriers.

If you want to hit the jackpot with AA miles, here are the cards to apply for in the correct order:

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: This one is a total no-brainer. The current offer is 60,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase, with no minimum spending requirement. The annual fee is $99. You earn two miles per dollar on AA purchases, and one mile on all others; after spending $20,000 in a membership year, you’ll receive a $99 companion certificate. You also get preferred boarding, your first checked bag free, fraud liability protection and no foreign transaction fees. If you’ve had a Barclays AA card before, you may not be eligible for the bonus.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: This card gives you another 50,000 miles after making $2,500 in purchases within three months of account opening; there’s also a $99 annual fee here, but it’s waived for the first year. The benefits are similar to Barclays’ Aviator Red Mastercard (preferred boarding, two miles per dollar on AA purchases and no foreign transaction fees) with a few extras (double miles at restaurants and gas stations, plus a $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 on the card in a membership year). You’re not eligible for the bonus if you’ve had a Platinum Select account within the past 48 months.

At this point, you’ve accumulated 110,000 miles or almost enough for two roundtrip award tickets to Europe in Business Class. Now for the icing on the cake:

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard: Just as with the personal card, this one couples a great bonus with a low spending threshold: Earn 50,000 miles after spending only $1,000 in the first 90 days, plus an extra 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card (available at no extra charge). In addition to some of the same perks (preferred boarding, first checked bag free, no foreign transaction fees), you receive two points per dollar on both AA purchases and office supplies. There’s a 5% mileage bonus on your purchases each year, and the opportunity to earn a $99 companion certificate after spending $30,000. Best of all, you can earn $3,000 in elite qualifying dollars after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, helping you to obtain AA elite status more quickly.

Citi also offers its Platinum Select card in a business version, although the spending requirements are steeper: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. To balance that, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You may qualify for a business credit card whether you realize it or not. In most cases, it’s not necessary to have an incorporated business with an established track record and a roster of employees. Your Etsy website would probably suffice, as would your babysitting gig, car washing service, or any other side job you engage in for extra income. Having a business credit card allows you to separate your personal and business expenses, and gradually build a credit file for your small business.

Bottom Line: Having both Citi and Barclays issuing AAdvantage credit cards provides an unusual opportunity to snag a large pile of AA miles quickly. Those miles may be used for awards either on American, their 13 Oneworld partners, or six other partner airlines.

Source: frugal travel guy

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