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The membership-based FoundersCard just launched an exclusive new status challenge with American Airlines, putting cardholders on the fast track to earning AAdvantage Platinum status. To complete the challenge, members will need to earn 10,000 elite-qualifying points during a 3-month trial period beginning in August. Those who meet the requirements will earn status not only for the remainder of this year, but also for 2016 in its entirety. AAdvantage Platinum normally requires 50,000 elite-qualifying points or miles, or 60 segments in a calendar year, so this is a massive shortcut.
The terms and conditions are pretty straightforward: the offer is only for FoundersCard members, and you must be enrolled in American’s Business Extra program to be eligible for the status challenge. You must enroll in the challenge by 11:59pm CT on July 31, 2015 to participate. Once enrolled, you’ll receive automatic, temporary AAdvantage Platinum status during the challenge period between August 10 and November 8, 2015. If you earn 10,000 elite-qualifying points during that time, you’ll keep your status through February 28, 2017. That gives you more than 18 months to enjoy AAdvantage Platinum and decide whether you want to requalify the old-fashioned way beyond that date.
This promotion compares pretty favorably to other AAdvantage status challenge options. While there is no “public” offer, American Airlines will typically honor requests by granting a 90-day challenge for low or mid-tier status. Those challenges also require you to earn 10,000 EQPs, but they come with a copay of $200-250. The FoundersCard challenge has no additional copay, so if you’re interested in AAdvantage status, you can instead get FoundersCard, take the challenge, and effectively save half of your membership fee for the first year.
Note that this offer is stackable — if you’ve already participated in one of American’s Platinum status challenges through FoundersCard this year, you can extend your status by signing up and flying the 10,000 EQPs during the promotional period.
In conjunction with the status challenge offer, FoundersCard is offering TPG readers a discounted $395 annual membership fee and waiving the $95 membership initiation fee — use code FCPOINTSVIP at signup. Given the limited time to enroll in the status challenge, and considering that TPG values AAdvantage Platinum status at $3,500, the membership cost is well worth it.
For those who are ultimately interested in top-tier Executive Platinum status, there’s no easy way to leverage this promotion to help you get it. While the 10,000 elite-qualifying points you’d earn by completing the status challenge do count toward your annual total, Executive Platinum requires 100,000 points or miles, so you’d still be 90,000 short. If you’re looking for other ways to boost your status, you might consider getting the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, which offers cardholders the opportunity to earn 10,000 elite-qualifying miles after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.
One other important note is that bonus elite points do not count toward completing the status challenge, so unfortunately you can’t use the double EQP bonus that American Airlines is offering this year on first and business class fares.
For anyone who’s interested in AAdvantage elite status, this offer is a great way to put Platinum benefits within reach. If you’re able to complete the challenge, you should get more than enough value out of your status to offset the cost of membership, and that’s without taking into account all the other FoundersCard benefits.
Look ahead to the challenge period to see whether you can realistically complete the requirements. Check the EQP earning chart to get a sense of what it would take to reach 10,000 over three months. If you commonly fly in business, first, or even full-fare economy, then you’ll have a much easier time of it, since those fares earn 1.5 EQPs per mile flown.