How to Use 50,000 American Airlines Miles - picture of airplane on tarmac at sunset
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How to Use 50,000 American Airlines Miles

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In case you hadn’t heard, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard is still offering a 50,000 point sign up bonus for new accounts. This offer has been going on for a while now, so I expect it to go away any day. But, 50,000 miles is some serious cheese! You should definitely be giving this card some consideration, especially if you want to travel internationally. There are also other great travel credit cards out there you can look into!

All you have to do to earn the miles is spend $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months of opening your account. Now, 3 grand in 3 months may seem like a lot to you. But, if you focus all of your spending on this one card, you probably aren’t as far off as you might think. You can also pay your mortgage using your card.

Seriously, 50,00 miles is a ton of miles. We’ve earned this bonus before and used it to travel all around the world for practically free. We’ll get to where we’ve been by using the card in just a few minutes. First, let’s take a look at some of this card’s features.

Citi AAdvantage Paltinum Select Mastercard Card Features

In addition to receiving 50,000 bonus miles for signing up, being a card member entitles you to “Group 1 Boarding” on domestic flights. You’ll also get a free checked bag when you travel domestically. When you actually pay for an American flight with your card, you’ll earn 2x miles for every $1 spent through American. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 mile per $1 spent.

For in-flight purchases, card members will receive a 25% discount when they use their card. You’ll even get a MileSAAver discount, meaning that you can purchase round-trip flights for 7,500 miles less than those without the card. American Airlines will even give back 10% of the miles you redeemed during the calendar year (up to 10,000 miles), provided that your card is active at the time this bonus is awarded.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard also comes with lost baggage protection, worldwide car rental insurance, and trip cancellation or interruption insurance. It also includes some nice perks like damage and theft protection, price rewind (if you find something you purchased at lower price within 60 days, you’ll be refunded the difference up to $300), and an extended warranty protection. With the extended warranty, you’re covered for up to $10,000 for an additional year on an extended warranty that lasts 5 years or less. If you ask me, those are some pretty sweet perks.

As an extra bonus, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard is eliminating its foreign transaction fees beginning November 15, 2015. Personally, I think it only makes sense. It is a travel card, after all. You shouldn’t expect to be charged extra to use the card while you travel!

Be aware that there is a $95 annual fee. However, that fee is waived for the first year that you have the card.

Where We’ve Gone on 50,000 American Airlines Miles or Less

True, all the perks and benefits of the card are nice. The MileSAAver discount is especially cool if you like to fly on points domestically. (Still, I prefer to use Southwest for my domestic flights. They are cheaper and the points are typically a little bit easier to earn.)

However, American Airlines miles are exceptionally valuable when flying internationally. If you want to fly to Europe or the Caribbean, flying coach on American Airlines is the way to do it. Flying is almost always the most expensive cost involved with traveling internationally. But, you can do it for almost free by taking advantage of this 50,000 mile sign up bonus offer. Listed below are a few of the places that we’ve traveled to by using 50,000 American Miles or less. (Editors Note: All flights were in coach.)

  • London and Paris – Last October, we took an awesome trip to Europe. We flew into London and spent 4 days in the UK. We then took a Eurostar train through the “Chunnel” to Paris. After spending 2 days there, we made our way home.
    • Total Cost Round Trip Flights: 40,000 AA Miles (each) plus $197 (total) in taxes and fees.
  • Italy  We just returned from Italy, which was one of the most amazing trips we’ve ever taken! We flew into Rome and spent 3 days there. After that, we traveled by train to Florence for a couple of days before ending our visit to Italy in Venice. Through and through, Italy is the most beautiful place we have been so far!
    • Total Cost Round Trip Flights: 40,000 AA Miles (each) plus $109 (total) in taxes and fees.
  • St. Maarten – If you love the Caribbean, St. Maarten is a place you have to visit. Generally speaking, St. Maarten can be a bit expensive to get to. Of course, we made it there on points, which cut our costs immensely. We enjoyed the tropical mountain views, spent a lot of time on the beach, and took a lot of pictures. Frankly, we can’t wait to go back.
    • Total Cost Round Trip Flights: 35,000 AA Miles (each) plus $167 (total) in taxes and fees.

Seriously, these destinations are just the start of all the awesome places you can go on credit card rewards. But you have to take advantage of the sign up bonuses when you get the chance. So, click here to do it now!

Tips on Getting the Most from Your American Airlines Miles

Now, getting flights for practically free isn’t always easy, even if you do have the points. It takes a little bit of work and know-how. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your AA Miles.

  • Fly Coach – Ummm…duh. We (almost) always fly coach, saving us oodles of points and allowing us to travel far more often. Honestly, coach gets a really bad rap. International flights in coach are actually pretty sweet. Wonder what flying to Europe in coach is like? Just click the link!
  • Plan Waaaay Ahead – If you don’t make your vacation plans until the last-minute, flying on points may be tough for you. In order to get the most out of any travel rewards points, you need to plan way ahead. First of all, you need time to earn the bonus/points. Second, the further out you can schedule your flights, the cheaper they are going to be. We’re talking like 6-9 months out at the very least. Seats for rewards flights may fill up quickly, and they get more “expensive” as the time draws near.
  • Travel Off-Peak – If you can, try to avoid traveling during your destination’s “peak season”. Had we flown to Italy in September, the same flights we got for 40,000 would have cost us 80,000 points each. Because we waited to fly until an off-peak time, our total point cost was half as much! Generally speaking, shoulder and peak times to Europe run Mid-March through Mid-October. For the Caribbean, peak and shoulder times run Mid-December to Mid-April. Avoid traveling during these times and you’ll get a lot more bang for you buck.
  • Be Flexible – We’ve found that flying mid-week tends to work out better than flights on the weekends. It makes sense because those flights are more popular. Typically, Tuesday to Monday round trips or Wednesday to Tuesday seem to be the best flights for points. This isn’t always the case, so play around with your days and be flexible.
  • Avoid British Airways Flights – British Airways partners with American Airlines, which means you can spend your AA Miles with them. Avoid these flights like the plague! While the points may work out the same, the taxes and fees charged by most BA flights are like 4-5 times higher. So, when it comes to AA Miles specifically, try to avoid BA flights if at all possible.
  • Keep Looking – Getting the most out of your airline miles takes some time. If you really want to get the best deal available, you need to keep searching. One day, you may not find any rewards flights that are “affordable.” The very next day, those same dates may suddenly cost you half as many points. Be vigilant and diligent while you search.
  • Ask Us – If you want help getting the most out of your miles, ask us! We’re happy to help you find the best credit cards and points for your travel plans. It is free to you, and we’ll create a custom rewards strategy for any trip you want to take. Click here for more information!

Wrapping Up

Flying is always one of the most expensive costs of travel, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right rewards strategy, you can pay next to nothing in airline costs. If that sounds like a great idea to you, take advantage of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard 50,000 bonus mile offer while you still can. Click here to find the card under our “Best Airline Miles Cards” section right away!

See also: 8 Cheap and Beautiful Travel Destinations

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9 Comments

  1. I live in Philly so it makes sense to get this card but I do feel that AA is the least perk-y airline–you don’t even get peanuts or pretzels anymore when you fly! Also, Delta gives you free wine in coach when you fly international, AA doesn’t. I think AA merging with US Air made them more cheap with customers.

    I will say, I like AA’s point structure best. I don’t have this card but my brother has had it over a decade so he’s accrued tons of points, especially with buying things for his job and getting reimbursed. He let me use miles once to for my ticket only to fly to Dallas, and for some reason, even though we bought fairly early, my flight home was sold out of the MilesSAAver points. It was actually cheaper to book business class for my ticket coming home using miles than the coach seat! So that was the one time I’ve flown business class, without my husband who was in coach, lol. So I like that AA actually has cheaper business class redemption than Delta when using miles. Like most airlines, I think AA only has true ‘first class’ on international or long-haul domestic flights (ie LA to NYC) so that does make the business class cheaper.

    1. We always fly out of Philly when heading to Europe, so we know the airport well 🙂 For domestic flights, we never use American…well rarely, anyway. We almost always go Southwest. Our goal is to get there as cheaply as possible, and Southwest fits the bill.

      On our last European flight, we did get wine and beer in coach for free. We were also served 2 meals. It was actually very comfortable and nice. I don’t remember getting free wine traveling to the Caribbean, but I can’t say either way. I think the only time we have flown business class was coming back from San Diego. It was the only points seat available…and it was cheap.

      1. That’s so weird… my brother flew NYC to Rome and didn’t get wine…. that’s what I was going on. And I agree, SW is better domestically! I want to get the IHG card this year (plus maybe Amtrak’s card) so I might look into trying AA in 2017. If you know anyone who has the Amtrak card, I’d love to hear if it’s worth it!

  2. This is so tempting. I suppose the one thing holding us back from serious travel hacking with credit card rewards is the fact that we can only travel in the summer. Well, we could travel over winter break, but I’m not willing to get involved in that mess 🙂 Still, we might have to look into this as an option!

  3. My bf and I have been to Europe (Germany, The Netherlands, France, and UK) last year using 50,000 miles each on a round trip ticket. We will go again next year (Spain and Italy) paying the same amount of mileage. We paid a total of $500 each in taxes, but if you factor in that we are coming from Hawaii, that’s STILL a sweet deal. Nice post! 🙂

  4. I still have 150k AA miles hanging around…..hoping to do Europe at some point. I love the off-peak 40k flights to Europe, amazing value!

    Great review on all the perks here, thanks Greg!

  5. We have a huge stash of American miles I’m hoping to use for a big international trip. I’ve not had the business version of this card so that would be up next if the 50k offer is still available on our next application round.

  6. Traveling way ahead and off peak were the keys of helping us keep our costs down at our last get away. I think I used my AA miles to go to fincon. Then I got another 35K for resigning up on the plane. My wife still has her 50K which she may dip into soon to head to a wedding. Nice review!

  7. I was wondering about traveling in coach. I hear all these great things about traveling business class internationally, but it costs so many more points. Thanks for the info!

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