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AAdvantage Dining program: Earn American miles and Loyalty Points at local restaurants

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

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 earn more on purchases I was planning to make anyway is by signing up for airline dining rewards programs.

Most airlines have a dining rewards program that allows members to earn extra miles by using an enrolled credit card when paying their bills at participating restaurants, bars and clubs. It’s a very low-effort way to score extra rewards in addition to those you earn from your credit card.

Let’s discuss what you should know to maximize the 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 whenever you eat at a participating restaurant. Head to 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 inch you closer to American Airlines elite status.

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. However, I find it easier to type in a city or ZIP code and scroll through the list of nearby options.

AAdvantage dining search

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 restaurant card to the United Airlines 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.

Related: Can you earn rewards with a dining rewards program and a credit card at the same time?

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 opt out of email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
  • Select member: Earn 3 miles per dollar spent if you opt in to email communication from AAdvantage Dining.
  • VIP member: Earn 5 miles per dollar spent if you opt in to 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 membership tiers and earning rates aren’t connected to your American Airlines elite status. So, having AAdvantage elite status won’t help you earn more miles in the AAdvantage Dining program.

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.

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 where you’re eating will still process your transaction, so you’ll want to use one of the best cards for dining. Some popular choices include:

Alternatively, you might consider using a cobranded American Airlines credit card if you’re focused solely on earning American miles. However, these cards usually offer a lower return on dining than those mentioned in the list above.

If you have more than one card you regularly use when dining out, you may want to link them all to your AAdvantage Dining account to ensure you don’t miss opportunities to earn. I frequently switch between my 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?

Bottom line

Whether you sign up with AAdvantage Dining or another dining rewards program, these programs offer an amazing opportunity to double dip and earn more rewards when dining out. If you eat out regularly and one of your favorite restaurants participates in AAdvantage Dining, you may easily earn VIP status and boost your earning rate significantly.

The AAdvantage Dining program is also great if you want to earn elite status with the American 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 participating in the AAdvantage Dining program to rack up miles on your reimbursable expense.