Timeline to Beat DevAAluation Starting Today with Zero Miles


Today is February 9, 2016. You have until March 21, 2016 to earn and burn American Airlines miles on its positively cheap award chart. You can get in on the fun if you start today, even if you currently have zero American Airlines miles.

I’m talking about booking awards like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.55.33 PM
Etihad First Class from 40,000 Miles
  • 20,000 miles each way in economy to Brazil or Argentina
  • 40,000 miles each way in Etihad First Class or Qantas First Class from Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives.
  • 67,500 miles each way in Cathay Pacific First Class to Southeast Asia
  • 32,500 miles each way for flat bed First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco

All of these awards, and many more, go way up in price in just over four months, but you can earn the miles and book them before March 22, 2016 to lock in these incredible prices for travel in 2016 or early 2017. Here is the timeline:

  1. Today: Get the cards
  2. Next one month: Meet the minimum spending requirements to unlock the sign up bonuses
  3. By March 21: Book award travel at current rates for travel in 2016 or early 2017
  4. 2016 or early 2017: Take a dream vacation

Today: Get the Cards

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

I’d get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Next One Month: Meet the Cards’ Minimum Spending Requirements

Although the fine print on the credit card applications say otherwise, the experience of people who have gotten American Airlines cards from Citi is that you get the bonus miles the day your statement closes on which you meet your minimum spending requirement or a day or two later.

That means if you get the cards today, you can take two months to meet the minimum spending requirements, and you should get your miles by mid-March 2016, which is a week or so before the devaluation.

March 2016: Book Award Travel at Current Rates

Once you have the miles, you must book your awards by March 21, 2016. Travel can be booked up to 330 days in advance, so you can travel through February 15, 2017 if you book on March 21, 2016.

Once booked, the flights are locked in at the price you paid. However, if you need to make later changes, American may charge you extra miles based on the price of the future award chart.

Here are my guides on redeeming American Airlines miles:

2016 or Early 2017: Take Your Dream Trip

Following the first three steps beats the devaluation and will allow you to enjoy a dream trip sometime in 2016 or early 2017, secure in the knowledge that you paid a much lower price than people who don’t follow my advice.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 1.42.22 AM
Cathay Pacific First Class from 67,500 Miles

Bottom Line

Do not dally. The time to take action to beat the devAAluation is now. Even waiting a week will ruin this plan.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Key Links:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®

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.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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  1. Yup !!! March or whatever will be a good time to book my RTW trip and get TWO suites booked by YOUs..

    In search of new Caves..

  2. Hi Scott,

    Any idea concerning when American will begin releasing award space on their new Los Angeles-Auckland 788 service?

    Also, has AA begun releasing award space on their new Los Angeles-Sydney 77W service yet?

    Thanks, Jeff

    • Last I checked Sydney had space in economy and Auckland had none yet. Auckland should get some in economy.

  3. I would like to book a trip to Asia sometime next year flying first class either Cathay Pacific or JAL. I know they usually release space last minute, but I won’t be able to take the trip until at the earliest in April. What would be the best strategy to fly these products?

  4. I got a target letter a while back and I NEVER had a CitiGold account good for 50K AA points apply before 12/31 which I will do. It’s run for the points to get and BOOK. I get a once a year offer but never a No-Brainer or in my case a No-Caver like this one .
    Maybe Call and ASK Very Nicely and see if you can get it ..

    Offer Code……42ERCWNQU6

    May The Cave be with you

  5. Hey Scott, would love to go to Seychelles, Maldives and Mauritius using my AA miles. Also have a few 100k miles on DL and UA. I’m a budget traveler but I still want to see these places. Would love to cruise and fly to these locations all on one trip. What do u think? Also, I want to fly on Etihad FC one way for the 40k. Can it be done done all in one trip?

  6. I may be moving to the UAE next fall (which would open up a lot of Etihad flights to me) and I would like to book a few flights with my AA miles before the devaluation. If I speculatively book Etihad and Cathay Pacific flights through AA, is there a way to get around change/cancellation fees? There’s a possibility that I would have to change the dates of travel or the starting location. Thanks.

    • Not unless there is a schedule change. Otherwise you’re looking at $150 to cancel or change origin/destination.

  7. @scott I am planning to go to BKK from US in Nov but no first avail on CX & JAL both. Do you think it’s a good strategy to book for Jan 17 and than grab d last min openings without paying extra miles and cancellation fees as origin n final destination will remain the same. Plz advice. Thanks.

  8. Hi Scott:
    I’m planning to take a flight from NRT to BOS on Japan Airlines in mid April. Right now, they don’t have any availability for first class. Do you know if I can ticket the economy class which is available now as first class and then upgrade it when it mostly becomes available when close to the departure date without paying the new chart?
    Please help.

  9. Thank you so much for your reply.
    After reading your comment, I checked NRT-JFK-BOS in coming April. They have economy for NRT-JFK on JP and then first class for JFK-BOS on AA for booking now. So if I book it this way, I will be charged 67500 miles? When getting close to the departure I can call to upgrade to first/business whichever available without paying the new chart?
    I’m ready to book but afraid to do so without an expert’s opinion.
    Thank you again and I’ll definitely use your link when applying for new card.
    If you think you can help me book a first class ticket for this trip, I don’t mind paying for your award booking service too as it is a very reasonable price.

    • Domestic First Class = international Business, so you would only be charged 50k and would only be able to upgrade to Business Class without paying the new chart.

      We may be able to help you, and if we don’t you don’t pay, so there is no downside for you.

  10. I’m trying to apply for The Citi Business card, but I don’t have any sort of business. It is asking for the business Financial Information. Is there any ethical way around this and still receive the card? Thanks!


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