There are many ways to earn points and miles, from the obvious ones (like flying or spending on a credit card) to some that aren’t as well known (like online shopping portals). One of my favorite ways to “double dip” and earn a higher bonus on purchases I was planning to make is by signing up for airline dining rewards programs.
Almost every airline has a dining rewards program that allows members to earn bonus miles for registering their credit cards and using them when dining at participating restaurants. It’s a very low-effort way to score extra points on dining in addition to rewards earned from your credit card.
Today, we’ll look at everything you need to know to maximize the American Airlines AAdvantage Dining program.
AAdvantage Dining overview
One of the best things about AAdvantage Dining is that you can set it and forget it (and reap bonus miles whenever you eat at a participating restaurant). Head to aadvantagedining.com to register and link your credit card and AAdvantage account.
Even better, the miles you earn while dining count as base miles. This means they count as Loyalty Points, which can help inch you closer to American Airlines elite status. The elite year ends on Feb. 28, so you still have a few more weeks to dine out and have your Loyalty Points count toward the current status year. Just note that miles can sometimes take six to eight weeks to post to your AAdvantage account, so there’s no guarantee they will post in time.
You’ll only earn miles when dining at participating restaurants and paying with a linked card, but you can easily find participating restaurants on the AAdvantage Dining website. You can search for specific restaurants by name, but I found it easier to type in a zip code and scroll through the list of nearby options.
You can link as many cards as you want to your AAdvantage Dining account, but you can only link each card to one airline’s dining program. In other words, you can’t link your go-to restaurant card to both the United MileagePlus Dining program and the AAdvantage Dining program.
It costs nothing to join AAdvantage Dining, and your membership will stay active as long as you have at least one qualifying dining experience every 36 months.
AAdvantage Dining earning rates
There are three different membership tiers in the AAdvantage Dining program:
- Basic member: Earn 1 mile per dollar spent if you elect not to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- Select member: Earn 3 miles per dollar spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
- VIP member: Earn 5 miles per dollar spent if you elect to receive email communication from AAdvantage Dining and have already completed 11 qualified transactions in the current or previous calendar year (members start earning at the VIP level on their 12th qualified transaction).
These earning rates aren’t connected to your American Airlines elite status. So, having higher AAdvantage elite status won’t help you earn more miles in the AAdvantage Dining program.
Miles will appear in your AAdvantage Dining account as soon as the restaurant finalizes the transaction — usually within five days — and should post to your main AAdvantage account within one to two weeks of the transaction.
What cards to use
Depending on your status within the AAdvantage Dining program, you’ll earn anywhere from 1 to 5 miles per dollar spent at eligible restaurants. The good news is that these AAdvantage miles are in addition to any card rewards you’d earn on the purchase. The restaurant at which you’re eating will still process your transaction, so you’ll want to pick a card with a great bonus category for dining. Some popular choices include:
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 6 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
Or, you might consider using the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® if you’re focused solely on earning American Airlines miles. This card offers 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants, representing a lower return than the other options on this list.
If you have more than one card you regularly use when dining out, you’ll want to make sure you link them all to your AAdvantage Dining account so you won’t have any issues when it comes time to pay the bill. I frequently switch between my Amex Gold and Chase Sapphire Reserve (depending on whether I’m more interested in earning Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points), so I keep both cards linked to my account.
Whether you sign up with American Airlines or another carrier, airline dining rewards programs offer an amazing opportunity to double dip and earn even more miles when dining out. If you eat out regularly and a restaurant you frequent is one of the approved partners, you may have an easy time earning VIP status and boosting your earning rate significantly.
The AAdvantage Dining program is also great for earning elite status, as miles earned from dining 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 so you can rack up miles on your reimbursable expense.
Additional reporting by Ehsan Haque and Ryan Patterson.