Game Changer: American Will Allow Credit Card Spenders To Earn Top-Tier Elite Status

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Update: American has now published the rewards for earning at least 125,000 loyalty points and flying on 30 flight segments.

Update: American tells me that miles earned from Bask Bank will not count as loyalty points. I suppose that would have made earning elite status too easy, though I wonder if American is complicating the loyalty points scheme by having eligible (like credit card spending and SimplyMiles) and ineligible (like Bask Bank or transferring Marriott points) partners?

In other news, flying Brazil’s GOL Airlines will count for earning loyalty points.

American will announce the choice reward benefit thresholds in January.

Originally posted on 10/26:

American is shaking up how elite status is earned. It comes 2 years after United tried, but failed to simplify their elite status requirements.

EQMs and EQDs will be a thing of the past. Starting on 1/1/22, you will need loyalty points to earn status.

American is moving the elite qualifying year from a calendar year based system, to March through February, with status expiring on 3/31.

However in 2022, you can earn loyalty points based on earnings in January or February to help qualify for status in 2021 and in 2022, with those loyalty points counting for both 2021 and 2022 elite status qualification.

In 2023 you would need to earn loyalty points between 3/1/23-2/29/24 to earn status from when you qualify through 3/31/25.

American is also extending status for current elites through 3/31/22 so that they have time to requalify in the beginning of next year and carry those loyalty points forward for 2023 status.

You can earn loyalty points from flights, credit card spending, stays at partner hotels when crediting the points to American, AAdvantage Dining, SimplyMiles, eShopping, and select other sources of American miles that are still being hammered out. Purchased and transferred miles don’t earn loyalty points.

You’ll need to earn 30K loyalty points for Gold, 75K for Platinum, 125K for Platinum Pro, and 200K for Executive Platinum.

American awards 5 miles per dollar spend on flights. Gold members earn a 40% mileage bonus when flying American, JetBlue, and OneWorld partners, Platinum gets 60%, Platinum Pro 80%, and Executive Platinum earns 120% bonus miles. Those bonuses count towards loyalty points. That means a non-elite member on a $500 ticket would earn 2,500 redeemable miles and 2,500 loyalty points. An Executive Platinum member on a $500 ticket would earn 5,500 redeemable miles and 5,500 loyalty points after the 120% bonus.

Interestingly, American will award full loyalty points on basic economy tickets. Currently they don’t award EQMs and EQDs on those tickets as that was stripped away when American started allowing upgrades on basic economy tickets. However those will remain upgradable and will now count for earning elite status.

You’ll earn 1 loyalty point per dollar spent on most Citi, Barclays, and other AA credit cards. That includes cards like:

Cards like Aviator Silver and Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Consumer Mastercard will offer Loyalty Points as threshold bonuses instead of EQMs/EQDs.

Note that signup bonuses and category bonuses don’t earn loyalty points. That means that while you earn 2 redeemable miles per dollar on groceries on the Citi AAdvantage MileUp Consumer Mastercard, you will earn one loyalty point per dollar.

In other words if you don’t fly at all, you can spend $30K on your AA cards for Gold, $75K for Platinum, $125K for Platinum Pro, and $200K for top-tier Executive Platinum.

Of course there’s an opportunity cost there. If you value AA miles at 1.3 cents each and spending on a card like Citi Double Cash Card at a minimum value of 2 cents, then spending $200K on an AA card would cost you $1,400. That formula will vary based on how you value AA miles and how you value other points. It will also change if you spend in categories that earn bonus AA miles.

Unfortunately, you’ll only earn loyalty choice rewards, such as Systemwide Upgrades, when qualifying for Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum with at least 30 flight segments on American, JetBlue, and OneWorld airlines that year. You can earn more bonus rewards at 350K, 550K, and 750K loyalty points.

In other words, American is willing to give you flight perks for spending, such as Group 1 boarding, upgrades on Alaska and American, main cabin extra seating, 3 free checked bags, OneWorld Emerald status with first class checkin and lounge access, 120% bonus miles, free food and drink in coach, free confirmed same day flight changes, expanded award space, and more. But they won’t give Systemwide Upgrades unless you fly.

However you won’t need to pay to fly. You can also meet the 30 flight segment minimum by flying on American marketed award travel. Booking awards with multiple stops may become the new mileage running.

So why are miles called miles anymore? For now, American will still award Million Miler miles based on the actual distance flown, though American’s Million Miler program is a sad joke compared to United or Delta’s program.

For now, American’s awards charts live for another day. That’s a big plus over Delta and United.

I think American did a nice job in threading the needle here to encourage more credit card spending, while still rewarding flyers with perks like Systemwide Upgrades. Plus it’s a whole lot simpler than United’s elite program. If Delta follows American’s lead here, United will likely be forced to match as well.

What do you think of these changes? Will you spend your way to elite status?

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38 Comments On "Game Changer: American Will Allow Credit Card Spenders To Earn Top-Tier Elite Status"

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American gives confirmed same day flight changes for free to elites? Expanded award space for elites? Have you wrote about these perks before?


Are you 100% certain that the credit card spend is dollar for dollar? When reading their press release I didn’t see that. If true, everyone and their milkman will be executive platinum just by credit card spend. It will water down the benefits to an incredible degree.


lot harder to manufacture $200k, GCs arent easy to cash out, but if true should dilute the program a little


Not everyone wants to spend 200k for American status..


You have a milkman?


Mm, I think $200k is quite a lot to spend on a credit card in one year… not a lot of people have that much organic spend in a year, and the kind of people who would MS- are also the kind such that most of them wouldn’t find it worth it to pay the opportunity cost of not doing that spend on a card that earns more. I really don’t think a lot of people will hit this level just with CC spend.


I know business people like myself who spend upwards of 2-3 million a month on credit cards. One person I know can spend 200K in a week of Facebook advertising. There are plenty of people that can do 200K. Is it worth it? Hard to say. I have Exec Plat next year and I will see for me if its worth it.


What’s it the different between system upgrades and main cabin upgrades?




Regular upgrades are only on domestic flights, free for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum, for gold and Platinum free for flights under 500 miles, otherwise must use 500 mile vouchers (i.e. flight of 501-999 miles need 2 coupons). System wide upgrades are good for a one way upgrade (up to 3 legs) anywhere in the world. System Wide Upgrades are from basic, economy, or premium to Business, or Business to first class.


I like the changes overall but don’t much care for the regressive nature of keeping the high milers high while not doing so much for the less frequent guy (i.e. keeping status is easier for those who can likely more arguably afford to do it).


Gee, I wonder why they would reward the people that give them the most money? It’s almost like they aren’t focused on stamping out inequality by giving rich people just as many free flights as they give to richer people. Horrible.


This makes me wonder if AA Advantage program benefits from additional CC spend (by selling more points to banks), why did all the programs decide years ago to stop allowing CC spend to count for status? Either (a) it diluted the program for actual frequent flyers and this move forgets that history or (b) the airlines made a mistake and realized they get more $ by selling more points to banks and want to drive traffic to those CCs/points. Dan, which do you think?


I bet AmEx/Chase are not happy about this as CC spend just moved from them to Citi AA-cards..

Matt B

Completely agree


Not mine. I have no interest in putting $200k spend on a Citi card to chase AA status that ain’t so great in the first place.

Agree except

….until Delta (Amex) and United (Chase) follow. I think this is a no-brainer for the airlines as they’ve been complaining about decreased spend on their credit cards. This is a way for the airlines to “fight back” against cards that earn hybrid points (though personally, I’d still prefer hybrid points).


I dont get that part at all.


Basically in January this year and then in March 2 years later – pay your taxes with a credit card. If you pay at beginning of qualifying year (can do January this upcoming year ) you’ll have executive platinum for 2 years for $3800 and you’ll get 200,000 miles( worth $2400) so for $1400 you can get exec platinum for 2 years or $700 a year. That’s a good deal. Even if you don’t take one flight. And even if you don’t owe that much in taxes you can get it back as a refund a month later.


so tax fee is 1.9%, but they issue refund back to card or check?


Can you explain how from spending $3800 you will earn all that?


I mean you have to have that credit line. Not lots do.

Shmoe joe

Please Elaborate


This article is not very clear as to when you can earn with spend. It says what you spend in Jan and Feb in 2022 with count for 2021.
Please clarify.


Being a Million Miler, I currently have lifetime AAdvantage Gold status. Must I still accrue 75,000 AAdvantage mikes, or only 75,000 – 30,000 = 45,000 AAdvantage miles to earn AAdvantage Platinum status?


75k – lifetime gives you no progress toward elite status


You must acrue the normal miles to get to Plat or Exec Plat. It doesnt stack from your gold status.


Mosaic status on Jet Blue translates to which AA elite status?
Is there a link that explains this?

Deal Guy

What do you mean “American is willing to give you flight perks for spending, such as Group 1 boarding, upgrades on Alaska and American, but not Systemwide upgrades?”

What is the difference between an upgrade on Alaska and American vs a systemwide upgrade?


Well, my Aviator Silver is up for renewal next month, and I was dead set on axing it. Now it will live to see another year since Gold (and by virtue of the same spend, a companion pass good for +2 at $99 each) through charges is pretty much guaranteed, and Platinum is also not out of the question.


What are the benefits of gold ?
Will they be worthless now with everyone having it ?


Very minor benefits You get free bag check. Some better seating possibilities.


I would say this is a game changer for frequent business travelers, people with spending on their businesses or heavy manufactured spenders. Not much of a game changer for a casual reward point hobbyist.

Sgmuel Light

This sucks for current executive platinum members as the upgrades will be non existence. I wonder if their external systems will give priority to flters vs speeders?




Your “in other news” comment just reminded me that you haven’t done a roundup post in a while. Miss those!


@Dan, it doesn’t seem like they are complicating it, just eliminating the loopholes from Bask Bank or transferring Marriott points. The intent is to spend on their credit cards, not transfer from those programs.


Thats too bad. I expected that however.