Save Your AA Miles With Off-Peak Prices


With the United devaluation right around the corner, Drew and I are soon to be American Airlines folk.  Or at least… more so than we were.  Though…my last customer service experience with them was less than ideal when I found out I had to fly to Ft. Lauderdale and back on New Years Eve to make Exec Platinum Status because of a mess of misinformations…but hey.  Par for the course.  And I love an adventure.

I know I know. FWP.

Enough complaining!

AA has some great things to offer!

Off Peak Prices

One of the things to love about American Airlines are their great off-peak prices.  If you’ve been wondering when those airline prices are going to drop, American Airlines has taken the guess-work out of it.  Basically American Airlines has specified off-peak dates for various regions during which time you can get economy tickets for great deals in miles.

A few things to note.  These off-peaks apply to flights starting in North America, are for economy only, and (below) show prices in one-ways.

Let’s start by looking at those off-peak dates.

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 9.23.36 PM

(Award chart can be found here)

NA to Hawaii: 17,500 miles one way (vs. 22,500 ordinarily)

NA to Caribbean/Mexico: 12,500 miles one way (vs. 17,500)

NA to Europe: 20,000 miles one way (vs. 30,000)

NA to Japan: 25,000 miles one way (vs. 32,500)

NA to Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela: 15,000 miles one way (vs. 17,500)

NA to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uraguay: 20,000 miles one way (vs. 30,000)


What are the best deals? 

The best deals here are North America to Europe and North America to South America (region 2) as these off-peak prices will save you 20,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket.

How does this compete with other programs?

In both the option of NA to Europe and NA to Southern South America we can see that this off-peak AA option is 20,000 miles cheaper than United’s option of 30,000 each way (according to the new award chart).

This also beats Air Canada’s prices.  You’ll save 20,000 miles for “Europe 1” countries and 35,000 miles for “Europe 2” countries.

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 9.27.00 PM

The downside here is that off-peak obviously means that you’re hitting these spots during their least desirable seasons.

Still I have to say it was amazing seeing the snow fall in the Alps.  I can see how a person with just two weeks of vacation time might want to save it for more ideal conditions, but there is something neat about visiting a place when the tourist levels are lower.  A different side of its character comes out I think.  Maybe it’s in my head but in any case, Austria is beautiful in the winter and I would not hesitate visiting in the dead of winter.



So now let’s talk about earning these AA miles.

The top 2 ways we earn AA miles:

1.) Aadvantage World MasterCard

Note: (this card is also obtainable as a Visa)

Earning is basically 1 mile per dollar except on eligible AA purchases, in which case you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar.

A few other things about this card though.  For one, it gives you priority boarding and your first checked bag is free.

Also, you get 10% of your redeemed miles back each year.

All in all, not a bad card but the bonus is fairly low right now.  30,000 (after spending $1K in 3 months) as opposed to the 50,000 we’ve seen before BUT thanks to Flyertalk there is still a 50,000 bonus link floating around out there so if you want to apply for the MasterCard or Business version of this card, check out this link.  I think the Visa link is not live?

Last thing to mention is the $95 annual fee (waived the first year.)

2.) SPG card

Earning is basically 1 point per dollar on ordinary spends and up to 5 points per dollar on eligible SPG-related spends.

Earn 10,000 points after your first purchase and another 15,000 after spending $5K in 6 months.

SPG points transfer to AA at a 1:1 ratio, which is why this card is listed as an option for collecting AA miles. 🙂  It’s probably the main way we use our SPG points.

$65 annual fee is waived the first year.

If you want to apply for this card, we would love you forever if you use our affiliate links by clicking on the “credit cards” tab on Drew’s site!!  (!!!!! exclamation marks to emphasize gratitude!!!!!!)



6 Comments on “Save Your AA Miles With Off-Peak Prices

  1. This post is well timed w/my dilemma. My wife’s and I 2014 goal is to drop our worthless cash back cards and leverage travel reward card(s) so we can be in Fiji in the next 3 years. Initial thoughts?
    With the recent United devaluation and AA’s merger w/US Airways (I travel US Air regularly for work & have FF miles w/them, not a lot but some) what’s a couple to do? We were thinking of getting at least 2 cards but for the life of me I can’t make decision. While hotel rewards are nice I’m really in it to get 2 free tickets to Fiji.


    • “While hotel rewards are nice I’m really in it to get 2 free tickets to Fiji.”

      Mike I really resonate with that. We still definitely give priority to miles earning over hotel points earning. Do you have thoughts for how you’ll cover the stays while in Fiji?

      Initial thoughts are that you can stop using those cash back cards without canceling them, as it’s good to keep open accounts and minimize the amount of cancellations when possible. So if those cards don’t have steep annual fees, I’d just keep them in my “cards not to use” wallet. 🙂

      Also I’d recommend looking over Drew’s post on the top 8 credit cards in our opinion: My instinct is to send you in the direction of Chase but read through the descriptions and think about what you are willing to do in terms of spend requirements for the bonuses. 2 cards is a nice goal because the more approvals you get at once, the more spend requirements you have to reach.

      • Thank you Carrie. I took the plunge this weekend and got the Chase SP card and my wife got the United card…using your site :). Based on my all day Saturday research it appeared that United was a better airline in terms of options to get to the Southeast Asia region (in combination w/the Star Alliance). I also saw the “South Pacific Airpass” w/Star Alliance. While seeing New Zealand (or other islands nearby) wasn’t a requirement, this is a nice option that could extend the trip w/minimal financial impact. We didn’t cancel the CB cards for the exact reason you stated and they have no annual fee.

        I don’t have any initial thoughts on where we’ll stay in Fiji. My plan was to devote 2014 to miles, and this time next year start assessing the hotel options in Fiji and matching that w/any current CC promotions. I also have hotel rewards across a varietyof brands (due to work travel) that I’ll also factor in. Any thoughts/recommendations are welcome. And thanks again for all the info you and Drew post.

        • Mike that looks like a solid plan! I’m excited for you guys as it sounds like you’ll have no problem earning up what you need! Yes when we went to Fiji we also coupled it with New Zealand and that was great!

          One thing I will say about Fiji is that the Yesawas Islands are where it’s at and overnight stays on those little islands will likely not be possible with any chain hotels that offer points. I’m pretty sure their all little locally owned hotels in that region.

          We did almost the whole stay at the InterContinental Fiji (along Natadola Beach) and left wishing we had just went ahead and paid some actual cash for a place on one of the Yesawas Islands for at least a night. Having said that, I believe there are points-hotels in the port-town from where they offer day-trips out towards those Yesawas Islands.

  2. The other nice trick with the off-peak awards is that if you “start” them during the off-peak season, you can combine them with a stopover to go to Europe in the peak season for the off-peak price.

    I wrote a post recently about this while trying to help a reader get a family of 5 to Berlin.

    Mar 21: SLC-DFW (stopover)
    May 29: DFW-FRA-TXL

    This is a one-way ticket from Salt Lake City to Berlin, but with a STOPOVER in Dallas. So the ticket starts in March (off-peak timeframe), but you don’t go to Berlin until May (peak season).

    Still, the ticket only costs 20K (instead of 30K). Downside is that you would have to make your own arrangements back from Dallas to Salt Lake in this situation (Avios or Southwest), but definitely worth it to save 10K American miles

    • Thanks for that idea! Great to know tricks like that.
      I’m assuming if you skip the first SLC-DFW flight, your whole trip would get cancelled.
      I could see this being a good way to get a cheap Europe trip out of a domestic trip you’re already needing for the holidays maybe.

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