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Which is Better for Mileage Redemptions – United Premier 1K or American AAdvantage Executive Platinum?

by on January 12, 2014 · 8 comments

in American, Elite Status, United

TPG reader Ahmed Tweeted me the following question this week:

“Deciding between United 1K and American Executive Platinum. Which has a better award?”

The 2014 elite-qualifying year is still young and we’re still in a time where you can be flexible when strategizing which airlines to fly as you think about 2015. It’s the perfect time to think about changing alliances, it’s better to do it earlier in the year so you have all year to achieve that top-tier status. Now, you can status match or challenge after July 1 for 2015, but it is more difficult to fully retain elite status and hit the amount of miles you need to keep it going. Not only that, but challenges can be difficult because they only give you a 3-month window to hit your mileage requirement, so if your travel plans do end up changing and you don’t fly as much as you thought you were going to, you could waste that opportunity. So what I would recommend if you’re going to switch is to do so earlier in the year so you can hit the mileage/segment requirements on your own without having to pay for a match or challenge.

A status challenge could score you elite status until 2014.

Status challenges can be a good way to earn status, but they come with some drawbacks.

In terms of Ahmed’s question, I would have said that if you were just focusing on mileage redemptions, United would be my top choice – the main reason being if you want to use your miles to fly to Europe, the fees are going to be much lower on United awards (on United or on other partners like Lufthansa) than on American awards, many of which route through London on AA or British Airways, or through Spain on Iberia, and incur carrier-imposed surcharges in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

However, United is drastically devaluing their miles come February 1, with some mileage redemptions increasing almost 90%, so American will probably be the better mileage program afterwards. That being said, American and US Airways are merging this year, and they could also devalue their mileage programs as well. But even if they do, I don’t think it will be nearly as bad as what United and Delta are both about to pull, so your miles are probably better off there.

Executive Platinum is the better program in my opinion.

Executive Platinum is the better program in my opinion.

I would also say Executive Platinum is the better top-tier elite status because of valuable benefits that United does not match, including complimentary upgrades on transcontinental routes where American is operating some of its beautiful new planes. United gives its 1K’s 6 restricted Global Upgrades compared to American’s 8 potentially ultra-valuable Systemwide Upgrades that can be used on any paid fare, and American’s generous system of Elite Rewards.

In general, Executive Platinum is a better elite status, and certainly lately in my personal experience American has been a better airline and customer service experience than United. So I’d say go American, but feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, Tweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Shane

    With the new ability to book US Air flights over the Atlantic, I’m not finding as many high YQ flights on AA.com.

  • Allen

    With U.S. Air flights loaded into the Aadvantage system, I think American stands out as the leader, hands down, Of course being Platinum 4 Life sure does help also.

  • michelejkiss

    If you are a business traveller and need those flights to be productive, American also offers in-seat power in pretty much every seat, plus wifi on almost every flight. That is a HUGE differentiator for me. (AAdvantage Exec Plat.)

  • Avi

    Hi
    Do u know if can have both amex platinum cards ?? Business and private ?
    And will get both bouns points

  • thepointsguy

    Yes you can have both personal and business Amex Platinum cards and get the signup bonus for each. Just make sure you’re getting value out of having both at $450 a year

  • thepointsguy

    Agreed- AA is better when it comes to wifi and in-seat power

  • thepointsguy

    I miss those days of credit card spend counting towards lifetime status!

  • eafy

    thank you
    yes i just made the 200$ for 2013
    and just got the 200$ for 2014
    and it worked
    i have a RSVP from someone 100k bonus points do u think will get the bonus points if use someones RSVP number?

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