Get more from your miles

You’ve diligently saved in a Bask Savings Account, and now you’ve accumulated a proverbial planeload of American Airlines AAdvantage® miles. What now?

Of course, life doesn’t always have to be complicated: You can simply go to aa.com, find a flight, and book it. But with a little legwork and a dash of creativity, you may be able to stretch your miles and get more bang for your savings buck.

Here are five ways to get the most out of your miles.

1. Seek out special deals
American Airlines offers two types of special discounted award seats. But they’re not available on all routes, which means you may need to do some digging to find the best fares. MileSAAver awards are discounted award seats that can be purchased for as few as 7,500 miles. Considering you’ll earn that many miles by simply storing $7,500 in a Bask Savings Account for one year, that’s a steal of a deal. Note, though: MileSAAver award seats are only available on select routes, which change periodically, and they often sell out quickly. Similarly, Web Special awards can snag you a ticket for as low as 5,000 miles, depending on routes and dates.

2. Fly with a oneworld® alliance airline
Not finding American Airlines flights that fit your travel needs? Not a problem: American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, meaning you can use your AAdvantage® miles to book flights on a number of other airlines. No matter which affiliated airline you fly with, tickets on a given route all require the same number of AAdvantage® miles. And some travelers have scored incredible perks through these partnerships, such as using miles to book the spacious A380 first-class apartment on Etihad Airways for less than 10 percent of the normal price.

3. “Comparison” shop
Rather than automatically using your miles for your next trip, you might want to check all of your planned travel and see where your miles will be best spent. International flights often offer even better value than domestic trips. For example, if you have one vacation planned for Orlando and another for Oslo, it’s worth checking both to see which offers the best deal for the miles you’ll be spending. An off-peak round-trip economy ticket to Europe can sometimes be had for as little as 22,500 miles — the number of miles you’ll earn by simply keeping $22,500 in a Bask Savings Account for a year.

4. Go for an upgrade
Many fliers use their miles to add a bit of luxury to their travels, such as an upgrade to business class or first class. To request an upgrade, you’ll need to speak with a reservations agent. (Mileage-based upgrades aren’t available online.) Also, note that basic economy fares can’t be upgraded.

5. Think outside the plane
You don’t absolutely have to use your miles to book flights. You can use your AAdvantage® miles to rent a car, book a hotel or vacation package, become a member of the Admirals Club, buy magazine subscriptions, or even donate to charity. These alternatives usually aren’t as good a deal as flight options, so it’s wise to look at trips first. But if you have a handful of miles leftover and no new flights planned, you can use them to snag some other great perks.

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