With high unemployment and skyrocketing coronavirus cases around the country, traveling is the last thing on the minds of most Americans.
But you can still accumulate airline miles that you can later use to offset the cost of future trips. One of the best ways to do so is via airline shopping portals.
How It Works
Airlines partner with top retailers, and when you click through to a retailer via your desired airline’s shopping portal — instead of going directly to the retailer’s website — you’ll earn miles on that airline.
While most major airlines have this type of setup, today we’re going to focus on the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal. We recommend signing up and taking advantage of the portal if you plan to fly American Airlines, or its partner airlines, after the pandemic subsides.
How to Access American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping
To access American Airlines’ shopping portal, sign up for a free account on the portal. Enter your name, e-mail, and zip code, and create a password. You’ll need to enter your AAdvantage number, which is your American Airlines frequent flyer number, as well. Signing up is free, and there are no fees at any time.
Once your account is created, you’ll be able to access the portal. You can either access it directly via the link above, or install a Chrome browser plugin to make it easier. This is a handy tool to have, as it will remind you any time you are shopping online on a partner retailer’s website that you are eligible to earn bonus American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
Sign up for email alerts so you’ll know when you can earn extra miles on your purchases.
How to Earn AAdvantage Miles with the American Airlines Shopping Portal
You can shop around via the portal by searching for your favorite retailers, or look through some of the top stores.
As with other online shopping portals, earning rates can fluctuate — whether it’s through American’s shopping portal or even across different airlines.
We recommend setting an email alert for your favorite stores so you’ll automatically be notified when you can earn extra miles. This will really come in handy if you have any large purchases on the horizon.
For example, as of time of writing, Samsung is offering 6x miles per dollar on purchases made via the portal.
It usually offers 2x miles per dollar, so this is a great opportunity to earn miles you wouldn’t have otherwise — if you are already planning a purchase from that retailer. (Don’t spend money you were not planning to spend already just because you see an elevated earning rate on an airline shopping portal.)
Once you land on your desired retailer, click the blue “Shop now” button. It will automatically take you to that retailer’s official website, and you’ll earn your miles automatically after your purchase has been made. Keep in mind that it can take up to a few weeks to see the miles in your account, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time if you’re trying to use these miles to book a flight in the very near future.
If you’d rather earn cash back on your purchases via portals such as Rakuten or RebatesMe, that’s certainly another savvy online shopping strategy — however, you cannot use both an airline shopping portal and a cash back portal on the same purchase. There’s no right or wrong answer, just a personal preference.
But you can earn additional points or cash back, if you use a credit card that offers them. This is in addition to the miles you would earn by shopping through the portal.
How to Earn Additional Discounts With American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping
On the portal’s homepage, you’ll see a section about both “Featured deals” and “Trending deals.” Both round up some popular ongoing deals and promotions, so it’s a good idea to look around and see if any align with your shopping habits and goals.
For example, we’re seeing an offer to get an additional 20% off bedroom furniture at The Home Depot in addition to the 0.5x miles per dollar you’ll get on purchases. To activate, click the blue “Shop now” button on your desired deal.
How to Earn Status With American Airlines Co-Branded Credit Cards
If earning elite status on American Airlines is also a priority for you, there are some credit cards on the market that can help you speed up the process.
Keep in mind that to earn status on American Airlines, you have to spend a certain number of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and fly a certain number of Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) or Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
With the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard*, you’ll earn $3,000 EQDs if you spend $50,000 on purchases every calendar year. The AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard also helps cardmembers qualify for elite status faster — you can earn $3,000 EQDs if you spend $25,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
If you’re planning to fly American Airlines frequently, occasionally or somewhere in between once the pandemic is over, now is a good time to start building up your AAdvantage miles balance. Using the airline’s shopping portal for online purchases is a great place to start. It’s free to sign up and the miles you earn can add up quickly.
*All information about the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.