Travelers often end up partial to one airline or another for a variety of reasons: loyalty program perks, specific routes or destinations, or the amenities offered to travelers. If you’re an American Airlines’ AAdvantage member or are thinking about joining the program, you might be wondering about its membership benefits.
Among others, one of American Airlines’ sweet spots is that you can use your miles to book flights to Australia on Qantas. Here’s how to nab your ticket for a trip Down Under on the cheap.
Booking cheap Qantas flights to Australia
There are multiple options for travelers wanting to fly to Australia, notably on the country’s largest airline Qantas. Qantas is a member of Oneworld alliance, which means that its flights can be booked using miles from a variety of partner airlines — including American.
Booking American Airlines flights to Australia with your AAdvantage miles can offer a superior value compared to booking directly with Qantas, though this can depend on your dates of travel.
When searching Qantas’ website for a one-way nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney in mid-August 2022, an economy award ticket costs 41,900 points. Using that many points for such a long flight isn’t bad, but American charges only 40,000 miles for the same flight.
However, the value proposition gets even better when booking business class flights. American charges 80,000 miles for a business class seat on Qantas’ 15-hour flight from the U.S. to Australia. Considering American charges the same amount of miles for an eight hour flight to Tahiti in business class, you’re spending nearly double the time on a plane for the same amount of miles.
Nerdy tip: If you’re a member of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan, you’ll only need 55,000 miles for Qantas’ flights to Australia in business class.
Booking cheap Qantas flights within Australia
Australia is a huge country and notorious for its expensive domestic flights. Depending on your final destination, you may end up paying hundreds of dollars for an intra-Australia flight.
This is where American’s AAdvantage miles become even more valuable. Why? Because American only charges 10,000 miles for an economy class flight within Australia — no matter where you’re going. This is true whether you’re flying the short distance from Sydney to Melbourne or across the continent to Darwin.
Here’s an example of a Qantas flight from Sydney to Alice Springs: the gateway to the Outback. The three hour, economy class ticket costs $255.
However, the same flight on American requires only 10,000 miles.
This is even a better deal when you compare it to Qantas, which will charge you 18,000 miles for your flight — nearly double what American charges.
At this rate, you’ll be redeeming your AAdvantage miles for 2.55 cents each: more than double NerdWallet’s valuation of 1.2 cents per point.
If that weren’t a good enough deal already, the value proposition jumps drastically when you peek at the business class pricing for this same flight.
American charges a flat 20,000 miles for business class flights within Australia, which means you’ll be redeeming your miles for this flight at an astronomical 6.21 cents per point. When it comes to award seat redemptions, that’s a pretty good value.
How to earn American Airlines miles
American Airlines miles aren’t as easy to earn as other airline miles because American doesn’t partner with any of the major flexible point currencies. Instead, you’ll have to earn miles another way. Let’s take a look at a few options.
Co-branded credit cards
American has a handful of co-branded credit cards from which to choose, including options from both Citibank and Barclays. These cards will usually come with a lump-sum welcome offer of bonus miles in addition to the ability to earn miles with every purchase.
The fees and benefits associated with these credit cards vary, but one option in particular that you might want to consider is the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. Its current sign-up bonus is: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.
Bask Bank offers a unique option for those who want to keep some of their money in a savings account. Rather than earning interest on your balance, you can earn one American Airlines mile per dollar saved annually.
Bilt is a fairly new program designed primarily for renters, though others can benefit from it as well. In addition to allowing you to earn Bilt Rewards on rent, the program has a fee-free credit card that allows you to earn rewards. Bilt Rewards transfer over to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.
SimplyMiles is a shopping program that allows you to earn American Airlines miles on your purchases when using a Mastercard. Unlike a shopping portal, you won’t need to buy through the SimplyMiles website in order to get your miles.
Instead, you’ll add promotions to your linked credit card, which you’ll then use to pay for your purchase. Once the transaction has been verified on your card, the AAdvantage miles will be deposited to your account.
Earning rates vary pretty drastically on SimplyMiles, so you’ll want to check the specific offers to see how many miles you’ll receive. Some provide a lump-sum bonus after spending a specific amount, while others offer a certain number of miles per dollar spent.
If you’re looking for cheap flights to and within Australia
Although American Airlines AAdvantage miles aren’t the easiest to earn, they can provide some really great value when traveling. This is especially true when you’re looking at flights to Australia, where just 40,000 miles can get you an economy class ticket. Additionally, navigating the vast landscape of Australia can be made significantly easier (and cheaper) thanks to American’s flat-rate price of just 10,000 miles for any in-country economy class flight.
The information related to CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
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