How to Earn and Spend 156,000 American Airlines Miles


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  • What timing rule should you follow on the applications?
  • What can you do with 156,000 American Airlines miles?
  • What is the one other killer benefit of the American Airlines personal card?

What Can You Do with 156,000 American Airlines Miles?

1. Take a Round-the-World Trip

a. For 150,000 miles, you can take a round-the-world trip with stops in Sydney, Tokyo, Bangkok, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, and Paris. Or choose any other cities and continents of your choice.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 2.32.56 AM
Lines indicate travel, but not direct flights. From

b. For 122,500 miles, you can take a trip to Peru, Chile, Australia, Japan, and back.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 2.35.50 AM
Lines indicate travel, but not direct flights. From

2. Take Your Family Somewhere

  • almost 4 roundtrips to Europe (160,000 miles from Oct 15 – May 15 each year)
  • 5 roundtrips to South America (150,000 miles to Peru and north most of the year)
  • 3 roundtrips to Japan or Korea (150,000 miles Oct 1 – Apr 30 each year)
  • 4 roundtrips to Hawaii (140,000 miles half the year)
  • 6 roundtrips to the Caribbean or Alaska (150,000 miles to Alaska year round or Caribbean Sep 7 – Nov 14 each year)

South America is as little as 30k miles roundtrip, Europe 40k roundtrip, Asia 50k roundtrip, Africa and Australia 75k roundtrip, and the Middle East and India 90k roundtrip. For the full chart, see here.

Sunset over Waikiki

3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class

Stretching out in Cathay Pacific First Class

4. Head to the South Pacific

American partners with Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, and Qantas, so it has the best miles for the South Pacific. American charges only 37,500 miles each way in economy, 62,500 miles each way in business class, and 72,500 miles each way in First Class. (Qantas First Class looks unreal.)

Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific

5. Machu Picchu in a Bed

60,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Northern South America in business class. That means you can fly to anywhere in Peru–like Machu Picchu–with both directions in fully flat beds on a 787 Dreamliner on American Airlines-partner LAN Airlines.

I talked more about this award in depth here. The only drawback with this award is that once you experience flying in a fully flat bed, you might not ever want to go back to economy!

American has the biggest route network from the United States to Latin America and partners with LAN and TAM, the biggest airlines in South America, so American has the most and best award space to South America

Wow! Machu Picchu

6. Europe in Business or First Class

100,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe in Business Class. 125,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip in First Class. Several American Airlines partners fly to Europe with fully flat beds. I wrote about American’s Los Angeles to London route featuring flat beds in business class here. The newest planes feature an on-board bar in business class, pictured below.

How Exactly Do You Get the 156,000 Miles?

You apply for one American Airlines personal card, one American Airlines business card, and one US Airways card.

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

If you apply for the American Airlines and US Airways personal cards on the same day and the American Airlines business card 8 days later, you should have no problems. Some people have been approved for both American Airlines cards on the same day, while some have had the second application rejected.

You make a single purchase on the US Airways card and receive 50,000 bonus miles after your first statement closes. You spend $3,000 in the first 3 months on each American Airlines card and earn 50,000 bonus miles on each card.

The bonus miles plus the spending add up to 106,000 American Airlines miles and 50,000 US Airways miles.

You cannot combine these miles, but…

Your American Airlines and US Airways frequent flyer accounts will be automatically combined in early 2015 as part of the merger between the two airlines. At that point, you’ll have 156,000+ American Airlines miles.

Other Benefits Besides the Sign Up Bonus

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with two Admirals Club airport lounge passes after meeting the minimum spending requirement, and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® comes with two more.

The personal card also comes with my favorite feature by far of any airline credit card. While you’re a cardholder you’ll get a 10% miles rebate on all your American Airlines award redemptions up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

That means that if you booked a roundtrip award ticket to Tahiti with your American Airlines miles while you were a cardholder for 75k miles, you’d get 7,500 miles back for a total cost of only 67,500 miles roundtrip!

With these cards, you can mentally take a 10% discount on all award prices. Now Europe is only 18k miles each way, a business class bed to Machu Picchu is 27k miles each way, and Cathay Pacific First Class is 60,750 miles each way.

If you redeem the 156,000 miles next year, that’s another 10,000 miles rebated because of this benefit.

The benefit is automatic, no enrollment necessary. Here’s my experience with the rebate.

I value the 10,000 extra miles a year at about $180, so this is a huge ongoing benefit to me and one reason that I hold a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

The 10% rebate on awards is in addition to a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying American Airlines, Group 1 boarding to get that overhead bin space, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and double miles on American Airlines purchases.

The business card also comes with 2x miles at certain office supply merchants, telecommunications merchants, and car rental merchants and a 5% mileage bonus when you renew your card.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying US Airways, Zone 2 boarding to get that overhead bin space, and double miles on US Airways purchases.


You can earn 156,000 American Airlines miles in the next few weeks by:

  1. Applying for the American Airlines personal and business cards and the US Airways personal card. Apply for both personal cards the same day and wait eight days on the business card.
  2. Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on each American Airlines card and making a purchase on the US Airways card
  3. Waiting until early 2015 for your American Airlines and US Airways miles’ balances to be combined.

Once you have the cards, you can enjoy the 10% rebate on the miles needed for AAdvantage awards up to 10k miles per calendar year and other benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding on both airlines.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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    • Never mind, answered it myself.. Yes. Though maybe I’m misreading the chart a bit, because it looks like I can get business class tickets (boston to Rome) for 20k miles one way.. That can’t be right, can it?

      • Boston to Rome is 20k in economy for 7 months each year. It is 50k in business all year round. The chart lists one way prices because one way awards are bookable.

  1. Hey Scott, have you ever booked that Qantas / LAN flight you mention above between SYD SCL using American miles, in either direction? Or using any other miles? If so, any tricks to finding availability? Been looking for two business class seats in March 2015 for the past several months — I’ve only found very minimal availability through the Qantas site, which AA agents have been unable to see or book. Some research on Flyertalk seems to indicate that I’m not the only one that’s had trouble with the flight, although the commentary is somewhat confusing. Not easy getting between Australia / New Zealand and South America otherwise…

      • Any other thoughts on the best way between the two continents? Through PPT? Even if I get up to SE Asia from Australia, there aren’t many flights to anywhere in South America.

        • Between Asia and South America, there are zero direct flights. Between Australia/NZ and South America, there is one. It’s just not an easy thing to do. Plan your entire trip around the space on the SCL-AKL flight.

          • Thanks very much Scott. That’s pretty much what I thought but helps to have confirmation from the pro.

  2. There are no flights on AA at the 20k level on AA metal to Europe. Not one single flight from at least January through the supposed 5/15 milesaaver award date. 2 days ago there were hundreds. Now there’s tons of US Airways availability. What’s happening?

  3. I thought American Airlines doesn’t allow any stopover on award flight. Does it apply on round-the-world ticket?

  4. I applied for my regular AAdvantage card a few months ago, got approved.
    A few weeks ago, I got approved for my US Airways card,

    when do you think I should apply for the Business AAdvantage? Since you said you can do it about 8 days after the regular AAdvantage?

      • even though I just got the US Airways card not but three weeks ago? Shouldn’t I wait about 60-90 days in between applying?

        • It should be fine to apply now. Your odds of approval might go up slightly if you wait until 91 days after US Airways card application, but this offer might not be around then.

          • You got it right, Scott. I applied for both business AAdvantage, and the BA and got approved for both. Thank you for the advice. I was just thinking how the BA card’s fine print says you’re only eligible for the offer if you haven’t had an account in the last 2 years, which I MIGHT have, can’t really remember.

          • Says if you got bonus in last two years, so it’s really two years between apps.

  5. I got the first Citi (Personal) card on Nov 24th and apllied for the Business card today (Dec 3rd). I was given the first but turned down on the second and was wondering why. Is there much higher requirement for a Business Credit Card?

    Full Disclosure. I am not a US citizen but I have been living and working here for 4 years now

    • Call Citi’s reconsideration line and ask what you can do to be approved. They are looking at two different credit reports, so I wouldn’t say one is harder to get, just different.

  6. Sounds great, but I will end up with 3 credit cards with 3 pending annual fees a year from when I get them. I know it says the frequent flyer programs will combine, but will all three credit card accounts combine into one card, or will I have to cancel two of them? If I do, then what happens to the bonus miles I earned if I cancel any of them?

  7. Are these still active , the Us airways deal looks like it passed and the Citi business card eventually reads that its an outdated link. Please advise, thank you .


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