How to earn American Airlines elite status entirely with your credit card | CNN Underscored
CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
It’s now easier than ever to earn American Airlines elite status. That’s because as of last year, you can earn status with your American Airlines credit card — without even stepping foot on an airplane.
In Oct. 2021, American announced its new outlook on loyalty, adopting a currency called Loyalty Points to track customers’ progress toward elite status. The redesigned AAdvantage program allows most earned miles to count toward elite status with the airline — a process that was previously difficult and required time spent in the air.
With the American Airlines 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.
The number of Loyalty Points required for each elite status level is 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.
Additionally, in March 2023, American Airlines is adding Loyalty Choice Rewards, which are effectively additional rewards that you’ll get to choose from for earning Loyalty Points along your way to earning status. The rewards range from Admirals Club passes to systemwide upgrades, bonus miles, carbon emissions offsets, the ability to gift status and more.
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 one 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 two 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 one Loyalty Point per dollar on these purchases.
Additionally, bonus points earned from an American Airlines credit card sign-up offer do 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 now 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, spending $30,000 in annual credit card purchases on a card like the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum would get you to Gold status, which is the lowest AA status tier.
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 to help earn status with your business expenses, which could be much higher than personal expenses. In other words, you don’t need to step on a plane to earn at least a basic level of American elite status.
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 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.
Plus, keep in mind that when Loyalty Choice Rewards are introduced in March 2023, you’ll start earning additional rewards beginning at 125,000 Loyalty Points. The choice is yours which rewards to select, but earning them can prove to make AAdvantage status even more valuable.
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, the Loyalty Points currency from American is good, since you can earn the airline’s elite status without ever having to step aboard a plane.
Learn more and apply for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card.
Learn more and apply for the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite credit card.
Looking for a new travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards.