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Earning American Airlines elite status will soon be easier. Starting in 2022, you’ll be able to earn status with your American Airlines credit card — without even stepping foot on an airplane.
On Tuesday, American announced its new outlook on loyalty, adopting a currency called Loyalty Points to track customers’ progress toward elite status. The redesigned AAdvantage program will allow most earned miles to count for elite status with the airline — a process that’s usually hard and requires time spent in the air.
With the new AAdvantage program, for every qualifying AAdvantage mile earned, you’ll earn one Loyalty Point, which includes miles earned with American credit cards issued by both Citi and Barclays. The number of Loyalty Points earned between March 1 and Feb. 28 in a given year will determine your elite status with the airline. Your status will then be valid through March 31 of the following year.
However, in 2022 only, activity earned in January and February will count toward both 2022 and 2023 elite status qualification, giving you two additional months to earn status. In addition, the airline also announced that it’s extending all members’ existing elite status by two months until March 31, 2022.
Once the new changes take effect, the number of Loyalty Points required for each elite status level will be as follows:
In addition to earning Loyalty Points from spending on your AA credit card, points can also be earned by flying with American or one of its eligible partner airlines as well as shopping online or dining out. And all points earned from each method will be combined into one account.
Earning American Airlines elite status through credit card spend
Currently, American Airlines offers a large suite of credit cards that earn miles on your everyday purchases, including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®. With Loyalty Points, you’ll earn 1 point for each dollar you spend on one of these AA credit cards.
However, only base miles count as Loyalty Points, meaning that even though you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar spent at restaurants, gas stations and on all eligible American Airlines purchases with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, you’ll only earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar on these purchases.
Additionally, bonus points earned from an American Airlines credit card sign-up offer will not count as qualifying Loyalty Points. For example, if you sign up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum right now and earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first three months of opening the account, those 50,000 miles won’t help you earn status — only the miles earned from actual purchases on the card.
Since miles earned from American credit cards will count toward status, in theory, you could earn all the way up to American’s top-tier Executive Platinum status by spending $200,000 on your American credit card. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing it this way, as it’d be extremely difficult for the average card holder. More likely, you’ll want to combine the Loyalty Points earned from cards with some actual flying on American flights, as well as points earned from other sources, to earn status.
However, if you’re looking for a lower level of American elite status, having just $30,000 in annual credit card purchases on a card like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum would get you to Gold status starting next year, which is the lowest AA status tier. And since you have 14 months to earn the qualifying points for 2022, this amounts just to a little over $2,000 a month.
Or, if you have a small business and you’re an American frequent flyer, it might make sense to switch to an American Airlines credit card in 2022 to help earn status with your business expenses, which could be much higher than personal expenses. In other words, starting next year, you don’t need to step on a plane to earn at least a basic level of American elite status.
What is American Airlines elite status worth?
Having elite status is a great perk while flying American Airlines. But the benefits differ tremendously depending on whether you have Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum status.
For example, having Gold status — the lowest-level tier — will extend basic perks such as complimentary upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less, a 40% bonus on mileage earned, priority check-in, one complimentary checked bag, same-day standby priority and complimentary preferred seats.
On the other hand, the airline’s top-tier Executive Platinum status will open up a more luxury travel experience, with complimentary upgrades on all American Airlines-operated flights, a 120% bonus on mileage earned, three complimentary checked bags, complimentary same-day flight changes, complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks in the Main Cabin and expanded award seat availability on American Airlines.
Of course, the value of elite status will depend on how often you fly American Airlines. But having some status versus no status at all will only help make your air travel experience that much better. So ultimately, if you’re interested in earning elite status easily, this new Loyalty Points currency from American is good news, since starting next year you’ll be able to earn the airline’s elite status without ever having to step aboard a plane.
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