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American Airlines miles are currently one of the most valuable airline miles for economy awards because of off peak awards. During some months of the year, your favorite destination can cost up to a 1/4 fewer miles to travel to. For example, a roundtrip in economy to Europe from the US during January 10 – March 14 or November 1 – December 14 costs:

  • 45,000 American Airlines miles
  • 60,000 Delta miles
  • 60,000 United miles

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Deals

I’ll give the miles price of a one way award because American Airlines allows one way bookings, and I’ll give the price after a 10% rebate in parentheses. That’s because the American Airlines personal cards offers 10% of the miles back on all American Airlines redemptions up to 10,000 miles redeemed per calendar year.

1. 22,500 (20,250) miles to Europe from January – March, and November – Mid December

From January 10 – March 14 as well as November 1 – December 14 each year, a one way economy award to Europe costs only 22,500 miles. Take a thanksgiving trip to Europe this year, award space for two travelers is wide open.

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While those are periods when the weather is colder, crowds will be smaller, prices will be lower, and the weather can still be pleasant.

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Catacombs Beneath Paris — 2013

The price applies to all American Airlines partners including airberlin, Finnair, Iberia, and British Airways. You will want to avoid transatlantic flights on British Airways for their fuel surcharges, but all other partners and British Airways intra-Europe flights are low or no fuel surcharges.

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  • After earning the sign-up bonuses on both Citi AAdvantage cards + the AAdvantage Barclaycard, you’d have enough miles for six one ways to Europe at off peak prices.

2. 12,500 (11,250) miles to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America from April 27 – May 20, September 7 – November 14

From April 27 – May 20 and September 7 to November 14 each year, a one way economy award to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America costs only 12,500 miles. American has an extensive route network in these places, so there are a ton of options, and amazingly the award costs the same as an award within the continental United States.

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The price applies only to American Airlines flights. There is award space for two travelers every day during the Spring low peak dates between Chicago to Bermuda.
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  • After earning the sign-up bonuses on both Citi AAdvantage cards + the AAdvantage Barclaycard you’d have enough miles for 12 one ways to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America at off peak prices.

3. 32,500 (29,250) miles to China and Hong Kong for most of the year

For a large portion of the year, a one way economy award to China or Hong Kong costs only 32,500 miles.

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Great Wall of China 2014

The off peak dates for China and Hong Kong are:

  • To China/Hong Kong: January 1 – April 30, July 1 – September 30, October 11 – November 30
  • From China/Hong Kong: February 1 – May 31, September 1 – 19, October 2 – December 31

This prices applies only to American Airlines flights– if you fly a partner like Japan or Malaysia Airlines you will pay the normal award price of 35,000 miles. There is award space available almost every day Los Angeles > Hong Kong from mid March through mid April 2017.

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  • After earning the sign-up bonuses on both Citi AAdvantage cards + the AAdvantage Barclaycard you’d have enough miles for four one ways to China or Hong Kong at off peak prices.

4. 17,500 (15,750) miles to Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Manaus, Brazil from January – June, and September – November

From January 16 to June 14 and September 7 to November 14 each year, a one way economy award to Northern South America costs only 17,500 miles. This is a cheap way to take trips near Machu Picchu, Galapagos, or start off your trip through the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil.

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Metro Cable Cars above Medellin, Colombia — 2014

The 17,500 mile one way price applies only to American Airlines flights. If you include partners in South America like LATAM to get to Galapagos or Machu Picchu, you will have to pay 20,000 miles one way.

  • After earning the sign-up bonuses on both Citi AAdvantage cards + the AAdvantage Barclaycard you’d have enough miles for eight one ways to Northern South America at off peak prices.

5. 7,500 miles (6,750) to anywhere in the Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada that is (≤ 500 miles) away

While this award doesn’t fit the off peak category I’ve been discussing thus far (it maintains this price all year round, yay!) it is definitely worth mentioning since it is one of the positive changes that came with the American Airlines devaluation.

The three conditions to maintain the 7,500 mile price tag are:

  1. Distance must be less than or equal to 500 miles.
  2. Must be non-stop.
  3. Economy cabin only.

Delta and United also differentiate between short-distance versus long-distance domestic awards. For example, a flight between Raleigh, NC and New York City (426 miles approximately) would cost:

  • 7,500 American Airlines miles
  • 7,500 Delta miles
  • 10,000 United miles

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  • After earning the sign-up bonuses on both the Citi AAdvantage cards + the AAdvantage Barclaycard you’d have enough miles for eighteen domestic flights ≤ 500 miles in distance.

Bottom Line

For a limited time, the Citi /AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard is offering the same bonus. The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard is offering 60k bonus American Airlines miles after just one purchase and paying the annual fee of $95.

By meeting the $6,000 total spending requirement + putting one purchase on the Barclaycard and paying its $95 annual fee, you’ll earn at least 186,000 American Airlines miles. If you decide to open all three cards, open the Barclaycard first, then either Citi card, and then wait eight days to apply for the second Citi card. For example, on day 1 you apply for the Barclaycard and then immediately following, the personal Citi card. On day 9 you apply for the CitiBusiness card.

You can stretch those miles for up to six international roundtrip awards by taking advantage of American Airlines’ amazing off peak awards to Europe, Asia, Central America, Northern South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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