There are many ways to earn points and miles, from the obvious (like flying or spending money on a credit card) to those that aren’t as well known (like online shopping portals). One of my favorite ways to earn more on purchases I was planning on making anyway is to sign up for airline dining rewards programs.
Most airlines have a dining rewards program that allows members to earn extra miles by using a registered credit card when paying their bills at participating restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s a very easy way to score extra rewards on top of the rewards you earn with your credit card.
Let’s discuss what you need to know to maximize American Airlines’ AAdvantage Dining program.
AAdvantage Dining Overview
One of the best things about AAdvantage Dining is that once you set it up, you’ll earn extra miles when you eat at a participating restaurant. Visit the AAdvantage Dining website to register and link your credit card and AAdvantage account.
Even better, the AAdvantage miles you earn while dining count as base miles. This means they count as loyalty points, which can help you get closer to American Airlines elite status.
You’ll only earn miles when you dine at participating restaurants and pay with a linked card, but participating restaurants can be easily found on the AAdvantage Dining website. You can search for specific restaurants by name. However, I find it easier to type in a city or zip code and scroll through the list of options nearby.
You can link as many cards as you want to your AAdvantage Dining account, but you can only link each card to one dining rewards program. In other words, you can’t link your go-to dining card to the United Airlines MileagePlus Dining program and the AAdvantage Dining program.
It costs nothing to join AAdvantage Dining, and your membership will remain active as long as you have at least one qualifying dining experience every 36 months.
Related: Can You Earn Rewards with a Dining Rewards Program and a Credit Card at the Same Time?
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AAdvantage Dining Earning Rates
There are three different membership levels in the AAdvantage Dining program:
- Basic member: Earn 1 mile per dollar spent when you unsubscribe from email communications from AAdvantage Dining.
- Select member: Earn 3 Miles per dollar spent when you sign up for AAdvantage Dining email communications.
- VIP member: Earn 5 Miles per dollar spent when you sign up for AAdvantage Dining email communications and have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the current or previous calendar year. (Members start earning at the VIP level starting with their 12th qualifying transaction.)
These membership levels and earning rates are not linked to your elite status with American Airlines. So having AAdvantage elite status will not help you earn more miles in the AAdvantage Dining program.
The miles will appear in your AAdvantage Dining account three to five days after a qualifying transaction. They should be posted to your AAdvantage account within one to two weeks of the transaction.
Which cards to use
Depending on your status in the AAdvantage Dining program, you’ll earn between 1 and 5 miles per dollar spent at eligible restaurants. The good news is that these AAdvantage miles are in addition to the card rewards you earn on purchase. The restaurant you’re dining at is still processing your transaction, so you’ll want to use one of the best cards for dining. Some popular choices include:
Alternatively, consider using an American Airlines credit card if your sole focus is on earning American miles. However, these cards usually offer lower returns on dining than the cards mentioned in the list above.
If you have more than one card that you regularly use when dining out, you may want to link them all to your AAdvantage Dining account to ensure you don’t miss any money-making opportunities. I regularly switch between mine American Express Gold Card And Chase Sapphire Reserve, depending on whether I’m interested in earning Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points. So I keep both cards linked to my account.
Related: Which purchases count as dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve?
Whether you sign up for AAdvantage Dining or another dining rewards program, these programs offer a great opportunity to double dip and earn more rewards when you eat out. If you eat out regularly and one of your favorite restaurants participates in AAdvantage Dining, you can easily earn VIP status and significantly increase your earning rate.
The AAdvantage Dining program is also great if you want to earn elite status with the US AAdvantage program, as most miles earned from the AAdvantage Dining program count as loyalty points. So if you’re planning a work event or business meal, consider choosing a restaurant that participates in the AAdvantage Dining program to earn miles on your refundable expenses.