Should American Airlines Cardholders Book Award Flights Now?
News came out last week that American Airlines credit cards would be losing the 10% rebate on award bookings. This was an easy way to essentially net 10K in American Airlines miles each year. With this upcoming change the cards have become kind of worthless. They don’t have a very good earning structure and the other perks don’t amount to much. The only other thing to consider is if you take advantage of the reduce priced awards that cardholders get often enough to justify the annual fee. That had me wondering should American Airlines cardholders book award flights now to get the savings one last time. And I also have one other kind of crazy suggestion.
Why Booking Now Makes Sense
The perk of 10% back up to 10,000 miles per year ends on May 1st. So I would encourage you to focus on booking American Airlines flights, when award prices are competitive, in order to take advantage of the rebate. That is assuming you haven’t already maxed the perk out. If you don’t use it then you are leaving about $150+ of value on the table.
My One Crazy Idea
A risky, and somewhat crazy idea, is to book a flight that you don’t plan on using, at least right away. American Airlines has a very customer friendly flight change policy when it comes to award changes. As long as the departure city and arrival city remain the same you can change the dates etc. for free. This is allowed up to one year from the date of booking. All flights must be completed by that date. So if you book the award on April 20th you have until April 20, 2020 to take the flight. You can move the flight around until you reach that far out.
My thinking is you can book a saver award for dates far out to a destination you know you will go to in the next year. This will trigger the 10% credit. This works for people who don’t know the exact dates they want to travel on but have some flexibility. You can then move it to the dates you want to travel when you get that nailed down as long as there is saver space.
That last sentence is key because there is a risk saver space never opens for particular dates. So be sure that it is a destination that frequently shows award space. You also want to be sure that you have a few different travel dates so you have a better chance of locking in saver space.
If you really want to get risky and you have specific dates that are not showing saver award space you can book for different dates to get the rebate. You can then check back often to see when space opens up and move your booking. Since your dates are locked this increases the risk a lot more. It is a risk that could end up costing you $150 per ticket to cancel the flight and redeposit your award if it doesn’t work out.
I would implore you to do your best to max out the 10% rebate perk if you can. It may even be worth it to some to try the more risky approach to lock in the savings. I plan on working hard on maxing out this perk one last time over the next two months. What are your plans?