American Changes Million Miler Program

by on August 24, 2011 · 76 comments

in American

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It’s been long rumored that American’s super generous million miler program would be coming to an end. In fact, when Maya Liebman, the head of American AAdvantage, was asked in April, she said no decisions had been made.

Well, apparently a decision has been made and they are taking away the opportunity to earn Million Miler miles from all other sources, except flying and using their new Citi Executive/AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard, starting on December 1, 2011. They will allow the Executive card-holders to earn Million Miler miles until December 2012 and then they are cut off as well.

So this is clearly a huge push by American and Citi to get people to sign-up for their $450 a year credit card and to end the gravy train for everyone else. This will surely be a disappointment to many, though it isn’t really surprising since American is now in line with most other airlines with respect to Million Miler qualification. It was good while it lasted! And you can still get in on the action until December 1, 2011 – the 225,000 miles earned from the Citi AA Visa/Amex and business card will get you nearly 25% of the way there without stepping foot on a plane! You can also transfer hotel points into American miles, which will count towards status until that December 1, 2011 date.

FYI the million miler programs of the major US airlines are as follows:
American: Calculation: Flown AA & partner airline miles and all miles earned, including credit card spend, dining and hotel transfers (now until December 1, 2011 and Dec 2012 for Executive Cardholders). Award: One million= Lifetime Gold Status.  Two Million= Lifetime Platinum Status. You also get 8 upgrade stickers (US Residents) or 4 EVips (international addresses) for the first million. 4 Evips are awarded for each additional million accrued.
Continental: Calculation: Flown Continental & partner airline miles and all other Elite Qualifying Miles (from credit card, class of service bonuses and promotions). Award: One million= Silver Status, Two million= Gold Status, Three million= Platinum, Four Million= Presidential Plus. You also get to designate a spouse or significant other to share your status, which is incredibly generous, in my opinion.
Delta: Calculation: Flown Delta & partner airline miles and all other Elite Qualifying Miles (from credit card, class of service bonuses and promotions).  Award: One million= Silver,  Two Million= Gold Medallion. Four million= Platinum Medallion. Delta also awards gifts for reaching levels, such as leather wallets, luggage, bonus miles, Tiffany gift certificates and drink coupons. You cannot currently attain top tier Diamond status through million miler status.
United: Calculation: Flown United/United Express flights only. Award: One million = Premier Exec Status for life, 2 regional upgrades and 3 system-wide upgrades every year. Two million = Red Carpet Club access, gift (luggage, Ipod for ex), 4 SWUS. Three million= 1K Status for life, gift, 4 SWUS. Four million = increased upgrade status, gift and 4 SWUS.
US Airways: Calculation: Flown miles on US Airways/America West flights. Award: Lifetime silver status.

Your commitment to American Airlines is extraordinary and we sincerely thank you for your loyalty.

As one of our million mile AAdvantage® members, you have enjoyed the benefits of an informal program that recognizes your robust mileage earning activity.

We are announcing a new AAdvantage® Million MilerSM program which recognizes and rewards AAdvantage members when Million Miler thresholds are reached. Starting December 1, 2011, AAdvantage base miles earned by flying on American Airlines, American Eagle® or the AmericanConnection® carrier or any eligible AAdvantage program participating airline will count towards Million Miler status. Also, as a limited time offer, one AAdvantage mile for every dollar spent on eligible purchases using the new Citi ExecutiveSM / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard® credit card that post to billing statements through December 2012 will count toward Million Miler status*. The Citi ExecutiveSM / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard® credit card account must be open and in good standing by December 1, 2011.

As you know, you are vested with lifetime AAdvantage Gold® status, regardless of your annual elite-qualifying activity. Additionally, you will receive valuable benefits each time you cross another Million Miler threshold:

At two million (2,000,000) Million Miler miles, AAdvantage members will receive lifetime AAdvantage Platinum® status and four (4) one-way systemwide upgrades
At each additional Million Miler mark, members will receive four (4) additional one-way systemwide upgrades

All of your Program to Date AAdvantage miles earned so far as well as any AAdvantage miles posted between now and November 30, 2011, will count toward the new Million Miler program. On December 1, 2011, you will be able to view the details of your Million Miler activity in your AAdvantage account on separately from your AAdvantage award miles, so you can track your progress toward reaching this special designation.

For frequently asked questions, visit We thank you for your loyalty and look forward to seeing you on board soon.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Varun Parthasarathy

    that’s a bummer!

  • tivoboy

    hopefully, this doesn’t portend any similar changes to uniteds MM program, but that has always been BIS, so again hopefully, they will keep it intake – at least for another year or so

  • Mooper

    If you’re looking to further leverage a last-minute push to 1MIL or 2MIL, in addition to the AA card offers Brian mentioned, consider also signing up for some Amex MR cards (some of the “bump” opportunities are gone, but not all) and transferring those points to AA. Or, if you have an SPG balance built up, doing the same. With an all-out credit-card app push, you could snag 300,000+ AA quite easily.

  • AAmiler

    Does this mean you have been cuckolding DL with AA MM status all this time, Brian? :)

  • Mike Galicki

    Somehow I need 150k miles by 12/1. Too bad the Sapphire’s don’t transfer to AA.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately Amex MR don’t transfer to AA directly. The only easy way I knownis Amex->SPG->AA but Amex->SPG is a nasty 3:1
    100,000 Amex would equal 33,000 SPG -> 38,000 AA. A pretty bad use of Amex especially when 100k Amex can easily be 14ok+ delta and sometimes BA

  • Guest

    MR isn’t a partner with AA.

  • Mooper

    Ah, knew that. Brain fart. SPG, Chase Sapphire, and I think some others would work. Main point was that transferring/converting, in addition to churn bonuses, can help a lot.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately, Chase Sapphire isn’t partners with AA either. SPG is.

  • Mooper

    Well okay then… kill the party! SPG it is. Or is there another partner tht will work in the spirit of the method I suggest? If not, then that definitely leaves a tougher challenge for those who have already received the AA card bonuses and/or still have a ways to go from their target MM mark.

  • Anonymous is the “official” website for AA info

  • AAP

    I know that I’m not going to hit 1M by 12/1/2011. Let’s say on 12/1/2011, I have 800K AA lifetime miles (200K flying + 600K credit card spend). I’m curious to know if I need to fly 200K miles after 12/1 to reach Million Miler status or 800K miles of flying?

  • AAP

    Nevermind found the answer on the FAQ page – which is good news:
    Q. My Program to Date miles balance is very close to a million-mile threshold. When this program is launched, will I have to start over?
    A. Absolutely not! In order to maximize your activity so far, your beginning Million Miler balance on December 1, 2011, will include all of your program-to-date miles – in other words, every AAdvantage mile you ever earned in the program.

  • Sachin86

    Wait, so if I understand this correctly, if I spend $1M on an AA credit card prior to December 1, 2011, I can get Elite Gold Status for life? We have a business where we do a ton of credit card spending! With the sign up bonuses you mentioned I may be able to get there.

    Another situation – if I am able to rack up $500K in credit card spending with an AA card prior to December 1, 2011, and then rack up another $500K in spending prior to December 2012 on the new AA card, then I will qualify?

    Last situation – if I transfer 1M points to AA from my hotel, then I will qualify automatically?

    Long time reader of the blog – thanks so much btw!

  • greek2me

    Thanks for the news. Now let’s all focus on ways to get our remaining needed AA miles in by the 12/1/11 deadline for the current rules. That would be a great followup post to this one Brian.
    Ones I have thought of so far:
    Maximize spend on Citi AA cards
    Do BankDirect 2 yr CD for $200k to get 200k miles upfront (and other BD products to get
    more; already have max in checking there)
    Buy 50k miles by 8/31 from AA for $1030 (2.06cpm) (how do they post on CC- can get 3x as airfare on MR as well to further reduce net cost?)
    transfer SPG 20k to get 25k AA

    I’ve got about 540k now. Through an incoming 75k card bonus and 3 months of 20k BD monthly credits that will hit before 12/1 I’ll have 675k. If I buy 50k from AA, do a BD CD for 200k I can get to 925k.
    Hate to transfer SPG into AA as need hotel points way more than airline miles, but could pick up 25-50k there. Can do more spend on Citi AA cards to get another 10-20k. Would put me about 5-40k short by the 12/1 rule change date.
    What other ways to get AA miles in next 3 months am I missing?

  • Anonymous

    lets think in positive way… at least we can still earn from PARTICIPATING AIRLINE PARTNERS. unlike UA or US…. too bad… I’m at the 1.2million mark so I need 800k more. And I personally don’t want to open any more credit cards. I’ll be moving to Asia very soon so I don’t need anymore credit cards to deal with from over seas. But on the positive side, I’ll be flying CX, JL, and MH quite often.

    It was fun while it lasted…

  • Will


    Off topic-have you created a chart showing the transferability of mileage/points from one program to another? For instance, I have BA, AA, Chase Sapphire and SPG miles/points and am trying to decide how to maximize the hotel portion of my points. I ran a search on your site but was unsuccessful in finding a “master list.” Thanks.


  • W Chris Burcham

    Note that Bank Direct essentially charges 2 cents/mile:

    For maturities greater than 1 year, the early withdrawal penalty will be 180 days of interest plus 2% of the principal amount withdrawn.

  • W Chris Burcham

    If you transfer before 11/30/2011 ANY mile counts.

  • Trevor

    IIRC, there are annual limits on how many miles you can earn from each Citi AA card. I believe it’s 100K miles for the AA & Amex personal visa, so the max you could earn would 350K miles (200K spending + 150 K CC bonus) for having the 2 personal AA cards.

  • David

    This is too bad! I have 1.6 million miles and I was on track in two years or so to get to Platinum. Have every card, but the new one, which I probably will get before the 12/1 deadline and just go nuts with the 4 other ones I have now. While Citi AA cards won’t count toward million mile status anymore after 12/1, will we still get miles from them to use for Award flights? And will they expire or continue as they do now?

  • Benthelefty

    So miles counting towards 1MM only count with the cc mentioned? (World Mastercard?) and of course flying.

    The other cc sign ups do not count for that? Major bummer…

  • tivoboy

    Just a note in your details about UNITED: I do not think one gets the 3 systemwides EVERY YEAR, only once, but one DOES get two regional upgrades at the end of every year.

  • Anonymous

    Oh darn, I could make it close by depleting more valuable SPG & MR points but I don’t think it is worth it. If they could just give us one more year of mega CC bonuses first :-)

  • Beijingtours
  • Anonymous
  • Andrew Fielding

    I’ve been considering giving up on DL and switching to AA because of the easy way to Million Miler but now I think I’ll stick it out with Delta…hoping to make DL Million Miler by the time I turn 30.

  • PJ

    BANK DIRECT 2 yr cd ? at what rate ? 2oo K to get 200 K miles ? Last night before hitting bed for better or worse, I hopped on AA AMEX application and got instant apporval on line. I assme I am not crazy for planing to pay property tax with 2.75 % surcharge, since i have more than a few SPEND to meet on AmeX gold Premier

  • Shaka913

    You have it wrong on DL, MM points are only gained by MQM’s, credit card miles do not count, only flown miles. Unless I’m using the wrong CC (Currently using the DL/Amex reserve)

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t say all credit card miles- just elite qualifying miles (mqms), which you do earn on the delta reserve after specific spend thresholds

  • Loquitur

    A bit macabre, but there is the also bequethment.

  • Garrett

    130,000 miles for me to go for AA Lifetime Platinum…am thinking about buying 40,000 miles (+ 10K bonus) by 31 August…and using Mileage Multiplier Quad Miles for a couple of upcoming flights. Might also have to do two mileage runs.

    Any chance there could be a better Buy AA Miles deal before 01 December?
    (the current offer this month is 25% bonus miles)

  • Anthony

    Do i need a us airways card for these purchases? For instance how i would earn a hit at FTD? do they ask for your number at checkout? thank you for your help!


  • Mike 9

    Gee – I’m at 914,000 miles. I’ll be looking for all ideas on getting the last 85,000 miles before 12/1/11.

  • Garrett

    You can purchase 40,000 of them through Buy AA Miles…currently there is a 25% bonus mile deal (ends 31 August)…that’s 50,000 miles for about $1100.00.

  • Garrett

    When you actually fly on AA or American Eagle flights, you can do the Mileage Multiplier feature…online or at the Self-Check-In kiosks at the airport.
    HOWEVER…you MUST do Mileage Multiplier in the 24 hours BEFORE travel commences. Once the flight takes off…too late.
    And…Mileage Multiplier-purchased miles DO NOT count towards the annual 40K Buy AA Miles limit.

    Also…sometimes Buy AA Miles increases the annual limit to 60K. I believe that last happened in December 2010…so, unless they do it in Sept/Oct/Nov…out of luck with purchasing 20K more miles by 01 December.

  • Garrett

    - Purchase 50K miles in Buy AA Miles (40K + 10K bonus) by 31 August
    - Do some mileage runs and use the Mileage Multiplier feature every time

    Receive even more AAdvantage miles and reach your next travel award quicker by purchasing extra bonus miles in conjunction with your trip.

    - Triple or quadruple your AAdvantage® miles on every flight

  • Flyer Fun

    Suppose my friend is at 914,000 American Airlines miles. Suppose I have 86,000 miles that I received from a Credit Card promotion and some purchases. (I used Mike’s numbers for convenience). If I transfered my miles to him (assuming AA let’s me transfer them), would he then make Lifetime Gold.

  • CornCob1

    The new Executive card has no mileage cap, so if you open that now and rack up your million dollars in spending before 12/1/11, you should be good. Remember, though, that you’ll be subject to whatever credit limit they assign to you. I’ve heard of people (who where trying to qualify for an AmEx Black card through high-dollar business spending) pre-paying the card to create a huge credit to spend against. If you’re planning to do that, you should call Citi and see what you need to do to make sure you’ll have the capacity to spend what you need.

    Speaking of the Black Card, if you have the ability to spend that kind of money on a credit card, you might consider that. It won’t give you AA status for life, but my understanding is that the perks are pretty good. I don’t know if they even still offer it, but you might try a google search for AmEx Black/Centurion card. I bet they offer Admirals club access and such. Although, I believe the annual fee is several times the $450 for the Executive card.

    Good luck.

  • Jenn

    Does anyone know if there are going to be any good DQM promos in 4th qtr to make a Mileage Run?

  • Jenn

    either Double Elite Qualifying Miles or just Double Bonus Miles? I’m trying to hit 2M and I’m going to be about 25k short…

    One other suggestion for people, you can also have someone transfer up to 15k to you this year, which is another way to get some miles. I’m gonna have my husband to this to help me, but still gonna be about 25k short. :(

  • Jenn

    Appreciate any insight anyone may have. thx…

  • Eric

    I assume the 25k short includes already having bought the max miles (w/ bonus) from AA this year. Last year, they increased the max buy from 40k to 60k in the 4th quarter and included a bonus. That would help you get another 20k if they do it again, but the bonus probably wouldn’t post in time.

    There’s an easy way to get 25k if you’re all out of options, but it would cost around $750 to do so.

  • Eric

    Actually, if you have the SPG card you would just need 20k points to convert to 25k miles, which would cost less to accrue.

    On another note, have you purchased the max Starwood points this year?

  • Garrett

    When exactly did AA increase the max buy from 40k to 60k last year?
    I remember it being available in December 2010…was wondering if the increase might have happened a month of two before.

  • Ftim

    No reply from anyone?

  • Gerry

    I would confirm w/ AA. Their policy, as they stated to me a few days ago, was however you get the miles, they count. But the scenario you post would seem to allow double-counting (i.e. both you and the recipient could each count the miles toward million mile) and this specific scenario is best asked of AA.

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  • Garrett

    Anyone have any insight on what the Buy AA Miles bonus might be in the next three months (Sep/Oct/Nov)?
    And/or if the annual purchase limit will be increased to 60,000 miles…as it was in late 2010?

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  • Jim

    Apologies in advance, as I am likely the only guy around who does not know this answer. I do not have anywhere near the 2 million AA miles needed to get the big prize (I very rarely fly for cash on AA), but I do have the ability to transfer Amex to SPG to AA at that level before the deadline, were I sufficiently motivated. I am a Canadian and our Amex transfer is pegged at 2 Amex to get 1 SPG. Does the AA lifetime platinum come with *wonderful* benefits (the info articulated at looks like not much of value to me??) The vast majority of my travel is award miles first class and I have an Amex platinum cc, so the lounge and priority bits are already available without any status at all. I buy very few paid tickets, so all the upgrade stuff is a waste for me. Am I failing to see value here?

  • Rondallas

    Always a chance but I doubt it. Last promo was discount for 40K. That is the annual limit, whether buying or receiving miles.

  • Rondallas

    They still count towards miles for awards, just not any status development.

  • RobinsonGT

    Quick question: apart from US carrier FFP, is there any other FFP in Europe or Asia which offer a life status or has a similar million miler program?

    I am aware of FL (10 years Plat and then for life), but can’t find a recent information on other programs (LH;BA;SQ…) by screening the web.

    Thks !

  • RobinsonGT

    Sorry I meant Flying Blue (FB not FL).

  • Mkell33

    So has AA made any noise about revoking the 1mm or 2mm status for those that already have it — for any reason?

  • Anonymous

    No.. no ones status is going to be revoked

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  • Eric
  • Eric
  • Megerton

    TPG, please clarify if you can: The AA website’s Million Miler FAQ says “all Program to Date miles earned
    through November 30, 2011, will count toward Million Miler status,” which sounds like they don’t actually have to post by that date. However, it seems most people are concerned that the miles must actually show up in their account by 11/30, regardless of transaction date. This could exclude, for example, AAdvantage Shopping Mall transactions from right now, since those miles are notoriously slow to post. That sounds too lame to be right, but maybe I’m giving these guys too much credit.

  • Terriden

    do SPG points transfer to AA qualifying miles or bonus miles?

  • Kane


    They count as bonus miles but will count towards the million mile program. I did this a while back and confirmed with AA.

  • CM

    TPG, what are your thoughts on the new Executive AAdvantage card, or other premium airline cards for that matter? I’m considering it but having a hard time justifying the $450 fee. I already have Platinum elite status on AA, so the incremental benefits over what I’m already getting aren’t that much, and while a nice perk, I don’t really NEED the Admiral’s Club. For the price, I feel like I should also consider the AmEx Platinum card. I like earning AAdvantage miles though (I’m pretty much exclusive to AA being that I live in Dallas, and they generally have the best flight options from here), and the 10k EQMs/year and counting towards the million miler program seem good, but I’m not sure if it’s $450 good. I’ve had the Citi AA MC & AmEx for several years now. For someone who’s pretty loyal to a single carrier, do you think they would benefit more from that carrier’s card or a more general AmEx Platinum? I guess the big bummer for me is that AmEx points don’t transfer to AA, but I guess I could still redeem my points for travel on AA and earn the miles traveled on those flights. I know AmEx is doing away with Admiral’s Club access, so does their post-9/30 lounge program have as wide a network as Admiral’s? Thanks.

  • Scottpoli

    Please answer and help asap… I have 860,000 AA,,,,,,,, I want to get to Gold on AA.. 1 mil…….. Have a citi ad card thats already reached my 60k spending for the year… I have 500 K AE rewards,…. Should I just sign up for the new 450 fee card for 1 year???? Or Just use ae tranfer to SPG and then transfer 3-1 to AA miles to hit gold………….. I am thinking its better to get the unlimited 450 fee aa card . for 1 year since I can charge alot on my biz… then I save my 500K in rewards…….. Please thoughts ???/

  • Katrina

    If you are an elite member, gold, platinum or ex platinum, there is no limit to the miles you earn.

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  • HB

    I know in the Asia/Australasia region, Qantas has a lifetime recognition program. It is based on the number of “status credits” one earns over their lifetime flying with the airline.

  • Fbalzaretti

    what is the difference in perks if you reach the 2mm mark before dic 2011 or after

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  • Corpgent

    Wanted you to see this: about the program changes and how disappointed we are with United.

  • Perry Monaco

    I know this was a US focused post but does anyone know if Air Canada has a similar program?

  • Biilunderhill

    So if I get their 450 dollar credit card I will get miles credited to my 2 million miler status until Dec 2012?

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