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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.
b. For 122,500 miles, you can take a trip to Peru, Chile, Australia, Japan, and back.
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.
3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class
- 135,000 miles is enough to fly roundtrip from the United States to anywhere in East Asia in First Class on Cathay Pacific, which is my second best flight ever. (Here’s a post on booking such an award to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.)
- 90,000 miles is enough for one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives in Etihad 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.)
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
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:
- 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.
- Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on each American Airlines card and making a purchase on the US Airways card
- 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 ai