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If you like to eat out, one of the easiest ways to boost your AA mileage balance while doing so is signing up for the American Airlines Dining Program. Registering for the AA dining rewards program requires almost no effort. The program allows members to earn bonus miles for meals at their favorite restaurants — and without spending extra money!
This post walks you through all of the details of the AAdvantage Dining Program. We'll demonstrate the basics of using a dining program, illustrate some lucrative bonuses available, and share some pro tips to keep the miles coming in.
- AAdvantage Dining Program Basics
- Signing-Up for AA Dining Rewards
- AA Dining Program Sign-up Bonus
- How To Find AAdvantage Dining Near You
- Earning Loyalty Points With AAdvantage Dining
- American Airlines Dining Program Pro Tips
- Maximize Your AA Dining Purchases
- Final Thoughts
AAdvantage Dining Program Basics
If you're familiar with online shopping portals, then AA dining rewards will look familiar.
In a nutshell, any airline offering a dining program has established a nationwide network of partnerships with restaurants. As a member of a dining program, when you dine at one of these partnered restaurants, the restaurant pays a small commission to the airline. Then, the airline's frequent-flyer program shares this revenue with you as bonus miles.
One of the great things about dining programs is that they don't typically cost anything to join. Even better, signing up only takes a matter of minutes.
Signing-Up for AA Dining Rewards
To sign up for the AAdvantage Dining Program, you'll need to provide some basic information, including your name and American Airlines frequent flyer number. You'll log into the dining program separately from your AAdvantage account for checking your elite status or redeeming miles. However, you still need an AAdvantage number; if you don't have one, you can sign up here.
The next screen will ask you to link a credit card. Your first thought might be: “I thought this was free!?” Fear not; AAdvantage Dining will never charge your card. This step is only required so that AA can track when you've dined at a partner restaurant.
When you make a purchase using the credit card in your profile, you'll receive bonus miles based on your spending, including the tax and tip.
AA Dining membership levels
AA Dining rewards you for your restaurant spending based on your membership level; the higher your level, the more bonus miles you earn.
- Basic members: Earn one AAdvantage mile per $1 spent if you opt out of receiving email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- Select members: Earn three AAdvantage miles per $1 spent if you opt in to email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- VIP members: Earn five AAdvantage miles per $1 spent if you opt in to email communication from AAdvantage Dining AND have already completed 11 qualifying transactions in that calendar year (members start earning at the VIP level on their 12th eligible transaction).
Program guidelines state that there's no maximum amount of miles you can earn through AAdvantage Dining, but you may find that certain restaurants impose limits on how much you can earn in one transaction.
AA Dining Program Sign-up Bonus
From time to time, you can earn bonus miles for joining American Airlines dining and making your first purchase within a specific time period. These bonuses fluctuate up and down, so different members may receive different bonuses.
The current offer is 500 bonus AAdvantage miles to new members who spend $25 at a partnered restaurant within the first 30 days of joining AA Dining rewards. This offer runs through January 6, 2024. If you plan to eat out at least once in the next few months or order takeout or delivery, that's a terrific return on your spending! Simply sign up no more than 30 days before you visit a participating restaurant.
How To Find AAdvantage Dining Near You
Now that you've joined the program, it's time to figure out which restaurants qualify for bonus miles. Click the “Browse Restaurants” button at the top of the screen, and that will take you to a search page with a map feature powered by Google Maps. The exact link changes often, but you can find it by searching for “AAdvantage dining near me” or clicking the “locate me” button.
You can search using your current location, a general area, an address, or a restaurant name. The map lets you filter your results based on price range, restaurant type, and daily bonus availability. As you zoom in, you'll see the locations of partnered restaurants, and selecting them will display the restaurant's name.
Selecting the restaurant will redirect you to a page containing reviews, bonus terms, and other helpful information for planning a visit.
Once you've pinpointed a restaurant you like that participates with the AA dining program, all that's left is to buy your meal using the credit card linked to your account. That's it! Your bonus miles should post to your AAdvantage account automatically within a few weeks.
Earning Loyalty Points With AAdvantage Dining
Aside from earning miles that you can redeem for flights on AA and its many partners, you'll also earn Loyalty Points. With the “reimagination” of American Airlines' loyalty program, the airline introduced Loyalty Points as the only metric to earn status.
When you make a purchase using AAdvantage Dining, you will earn an identical number of Loyalty Points. Collecting Loyalty Points can be highly lucrative for reasons other than gaining status with the airline. For instance, once you accrue 60,000 Loyalty Points, you'll earn a 20% Loyalty Point bonus on AAdvantage Dining purchases, plus a 30% bonus when you hit 100,000 Loyalty Points.
These rewards for reaching certain Loyalty Point milestones are part of AA's more extensive Loyalty Point Rewards system. American Airlines will thank you for your loyalty at these milestones by letting you choose your rewards, which could be as basic as preferred seat coupons and as lucrative as systemwide upgrades or gift elite status to someone.
Even if you don't spend heavily through the AAdvantage Dining program, simply enrolling in the program and earning miles here and there could get you closer to status and other rewards sooner than you may expect.
American Airlines Dining Program Pro Tips
Thankfully, earning AA Dining rewards is a relatively straightforward process. With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid any confusion or missed bonus opportunities.
- Don't expect to receive bonus miles from more than one dining program for a given meal. Restaurants typically remit one commission per transaction, so if you have the same card linked to multiple programs, you'll only get a bonus from one — generally the program where you most recently added the card.
- Don't assume all locations of a restaurant chain participate. Most partners are local establishments, with a few chain restaurants sprinkled in. But just because one Pizza Hut participates in the program doesn't mean they all do. If it matters to you, double-check before making a purchase.
- Pay attention to the limitations of each restaurant. For instance, Hugos, the restaurant I used in the above example, only provides a bonus on one visit per month. If you don't check, you might plan weekly dinners there and be in for a world of disappointment.
- The best way to utilize any dining program is linking all of your credit cards to it and then forget about it. In most cases, the bonus offered isn't significant enough to sway your restaurant choice; it's best to dine out as you please and earn the bonus miles organically.
Maximize Your AA Dining Purchases
Bonus miles earned through American Airlines dining are in addition to any credit card rewards earned when you pay. Choosing the right card for the restaurant purchase is important to maximizing your earnings.
American Airlines credit cards
To maximize your AAdvantage earnings, consider using an AA co-branded card for your meal purchases. One of the best options could be the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, as it earns 2X bonus miles per dollar spent at restaurants.
With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
- Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
- Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
- A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at restaurants
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
- Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
- Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
Some of the other AA credit card options include:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days.
- American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
Another angle worth considering could be to use a Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit card to pay for your dinner. While no major bank currency currently transfers to AA, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to AAdvantage miles at a ratio of 3:1. Some of the best Marriott Bonvoy cards currently available include:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Earn 30,000 Marriott bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Earn three bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Redemption level up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points for each bonus Free Night Award, at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Bank rewards credit cards
Lastly, if you're interested in maximizing your earnings regardless of currency, you'll probably want to use the best card for dining purchases. There are a lot of great options, but some of our favorites include:**
- American Express® Gold Card: 4X Membership Rewards points when you dine at restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 3X Ultimate Rewards points on dining at restaurants.
- The Bilt Mastercard® (Rates & Fees): 3X Bilt points on dining, which can be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage. Plus, earn double points on the first of the month with Rent Day promotions. (Note: You must use this card at least five times each statement cycle to earn points.)
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
- Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
- Member FDIC
- 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025
- 10X points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase
- 10X points on Chase Dining (including prepaid reservations and prepaid takeout purchased through Chase)
- 5X points on airfare purchased through Chase
- 3X points on all other travel
- 3X points on dining at restaurants
- 1X points on all other purchases
Unless you spend an outrageous amount of money at restaurants every month, dining programs aren't likely to make up a substantial percentage of your mileage earnings. However, you'd be surprised how quickly miles add up if you earn them from multiple methods!
Any well-grounded points strategy involves utilizing all mileage-earning opportunities available, including shopping portals and dining programs. Considering it's free and takes minimal effort, the AAdvantage Dining Program is a terrific tool to add to your belt while building your stash of AA miles.
Have you joined the American Airlines Dining Program yet? How has your experience been?
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Bilt Mastercard® (Rates & Fees)
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