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If you eat out a lot, one of the easiest ways to boost your AA mileage balance is by signing up for the American Airlines Dining Program. Registering with AAdvantage dining requires almost no effort, yet the program allows members to easily earn bonus miles for meals at their favorite restaurants—without spending any extra money!
Among all the ways to rack up AA miles, my favorite methods involve passive streams of inflowing miles that are quickly set up and forgotten. And although the mileage amounts may not be quite as generous as a new credit card sign-up bonus, they can easily add up to a free flight or two over the course of a year.
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 of the lucrative bonuses available, and share some pro-tips to keep the miles coming.
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 network of partnerships with restaurants across the country. 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 in the form of bonus miles.
Signing-Up for AA Dining Rewards
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.
To sign up for the AAdvantage Dining Program, you'll need to provide some basic information, including your name and American frequent-flyer number. The AAdvantage dining login (sign in here) is separate from your American Airlines login, so if you haven't already set up an AAdvantage account, you'll need to start there.
The next screen will ask you to link a credit card. Your first thought might be: “I thought this was free!?”. Never fear, AAdvantage Dining will never charge your card. It's merely required so AA can track when you've dined at a partner restaurant. When you make a purchase, you'll receive bonus miles based on how much you spent, including the tax and tip.
AA Dining rewards you for your restaurant spending based on your membership level; the higher your level, the more bonus points you will earn.
- Basic members — Earn one AAdvantage mile per $1 spent if you elect to not receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- Select members — Earn three AAdvantage miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- VIP members — Earn five AAdvantage miles per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining AND have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year. (Members start earning at the VIP level on their 12th eligible 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 certain amount of time. These bonuses fluctuate up and down, so different members may receive different bonuses.
The current offer is 1,000 bonus AAdvantage miles to new members who spend $25 at a partnered restaurant within the first 30 days of joining AA Dining rewards. If you were planning to eat out at least once in the next month, that's a pretty terrific return on your spend!
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 ‘Explore' button at the top of the screen, and you'll be taken to a search page with a map feature powered by Google Maps. The exact link changes, but you can find it by searching for “AAdvantage dining near me”.
You can search using your current location, a general area, an address, or by restaurant name. The map also allows you to 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 devoted page containing reviews, bonus terms, and other useful information for planning a trip.
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 (1–5 miles per dollar, depending on your membership level) will later be deposited in your AAdvantage account.
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 one 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. The majority of the partners appear to be 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, be sure to 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 bonuses 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 to set it up with all your credit cards, 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 simply earn the bonus miles organically.
Maximize Your AA Dining Purchase
Bonus miles earned through American Airlines dining are in addition to any credit card rewards; choosing the right card to use for the restaurant purchase is important to maximizing your earnings.
American Airlines Credit Cards
If you're specifically interested in maximizing your AAdvantage earnings, you may want to 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.
Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. 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
- Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
- 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 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $6,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard® — Earn 60,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee.
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card — 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 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, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. Some of the best Marriott Bonvoy cards currently available include:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card — Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card!
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card — Earn 3 Free Nights after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card!
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card— Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Bank Rewards Cards
Lastly, if you're interested in maximizing your earnings regardless of currency, you'll probably want to use a card optimized 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
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® — 3X Ultimate Rewards points on dining at restaurants
- Citi Prestige® Card — 5X ThankYou Rewards points on dining
- 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. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 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
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- 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 for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
- 3X points on dining at restaurants
- 1 point per $1 spent 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. But with incredibly cheap award redemption opportunities becoming more and more common, every added mile counts. You'd be surprised how quickly they add up!
Any well-grounded points strategy involves utilizing all mileage earning opportunities, including shopping portals and dining programs. Considering it's free and takes minimal effort to use, the Advantage 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?
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