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A Trick When You Are Short A Few American Airlines Miles

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A Trick When You Are Short A Few American Airlines Miles

A Trick When You Are Short A Few American Airlines Miles

I thought I would post a quick little trick that can help you bridge a small gap on an American Airlines award booking.  This trick will only work for American Airlines card holders who get 10% of their points back (up to 10,000 per year).  This is a nice perk of the card that I wish other airlines would adopt.  This perk has come in handy for me on a few different occasions.


I have run into a few different occasions where I am just short the number of miles I need for an award ticket.  This is a telltale sign that I need to get another AA card :). But I have found a way to work around it without the need to purchase miles or transfer Marriott points (the only viable AA transfer partner left).

On the most recent occasion I was looking to book two round trip flights at 25,000 miles a piece.  The problem was that I only had 48,000 miles.  To purchase as few as 2,000 miles can be costly and I recently depleted my Marriott balance. I could try to book the flights with British Airways Avios but since they had connections it would end up costing me more miles.

The only option I had left was to book one of the tickets first, get the 10% back on the booking, and then have enough miles to book the second ticket. The miles are credited back instantly so they would only take 22,500 miles for the first flight.  That would leave me with 25,500 for the second flight.  Even though you only need 45,000 miles to book both flights I believe you need to have the full 50,000 to be able to initiate the booking.

You can do this for single person flights as well. Book them as one ways to recoup some of the miles up front and bridge a small gap when/if needed.


Most experienced American Airlines flyers have probably already figured out this trick.  I thought it was worth sharing for anyone who doesn’t fly American Airlines often.  It may save you a few dollars or several thousand Marriott points in the future.

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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. If you call them and talk to them they will loan you the miles in anticipation of the 10% bonus. They did this for me recently.

    • Good tip Mark. That is a good one for international flights so you don’t get hit with extra taxes booking one ways if flying solo etc.

  2. Yep. I did this before when I was using AA miles to book inter island flights in Hawaiian. I was short 1500 miles so I just book two one way first then booked the return separately.

  3. I check blogs almost daily and think i’m pretty knowlegable on this stuff…However, this is a good one. Never even thought about that. Great tip!!!

  4. The problem with booking your roundtrip separately from your companion is that it puts you on separate locators. That may not matter for many flyers, but if one passenger has higher elite status than the other, or even if only one of you has the credit card, the other passenger loses the elite/card benefits, like seating, checked bags, or early boarding.

    To solve this, book the two outbounds together as one ways, get the 2500 rebated, and then book the two returns together. Same principle as you suggest, but this way keeps you on the same PNR.

      • Well you really MAY wanna reconsider some of those future Citi AA bonus spend deals then! I know you are a SWA regular but here in Texas we can’t get too far, with much ease or convenience, w/out an AA mile stash.

  5. I was in the same boat and needed 2K AA pts, but it was a one way ticket for my son. Ended up paying $1 each to Wall Street Journal and Barrons, for their promo. Points posted in 5 days. Will have to deal with cancellation tho..


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