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Last year as part of its restructuring efforts, American Airlines introduced elite status requalification “boost” options. The idea was that flyers who might fall short of qualifying (or requalifying) for status could pay either to “boost” up to the next status level if they had already earned a certain amount of elite-qualifying mileage, or to renew their status if they were nowhere near requalifying.
One of the big questions for elite frequent flyers with the ongoing American and US Airways merger has been whether these options would come back for 2015. Today that question has been answered, as American’s elite renewal page is now live.
Here are the options.
If you’re within 15,000 elite qualifying miles or 15 segments of your target status by the end of the year, you can pay to boost up to that level. Here are the numbers for those interested.
Prices range from $399-$649 depending on how many EQMs or segments you have accrued this year. If you currently have Gold, Platinum or Executive Platinum status and are not within the boost range, you can simply renew Gold status by paying $649.
Prices range from $699-$1,199 depending on how many EQMs or segments you have accrued this year. If you currently have Platinum or Executive Platinum status and are not within the boost range, you can simply renew Platinum status by paying $1,199.
Prices range from $1,199-$2,499 depending on how many miles or segments you earn this year. Like last year, there’s no option to simply pay for renewal of Executive Platinum status.
CHANGES FROM LAST YEAR
This year’s options are a bit different from last year’s, mostly for the better. The prices to boost or renew are the same, which is good news. One of the main differences is that last year you had to be within 5,000 EQM’s or 5 segments of requalifying for Gold in order to boost, and within 10,000 EQM’s or 10 segments for Platinum or Executive Platinum.
This year, however, American has expanded the boost options so that you only have to be within 15,000 EQMs or 15 segments of requalification. The prices are much higher at $649 for Gold, $1,199 for Platinum and $2,499 for Executive Platinum, but are still an option for folks who don’t want to slip down the ladder.
The other major change is that last year American made folks wait until January to boost or renew their status; this year you can already do so, and your new status will be effective within 5 business days. That’s good news if you’re already planning to boost up to higher status, since you’ll be able to take advantage of benefits almost immediately. However, I would warn against jumping the gun and paying for status if there’s a chance you could earn still earn it before the end of the year.
SHOULD YOU DO IT?
As with all buy-miles promotions, whether you should take advantage (no pun intended) of this one depends on how much value you expect to get out of your purchase. The cost of buying the EQMs necessary ranges from 8-17 cents per mile depending on your mileage balance and which status you’re gunning for.
If you’re close to Executive Platinum status, it might be worth paying $1,199 to secure all the benefits like complimentary upgrades, those 8 systemwide upgrades (which can be highly valuable), fee waivers, and more.
If you’re not in a rush, I would wait until the end of the year to see where your mileage and segment balances end up, plot out your 2015 travel, and then crunch the numbers to see if you’ll reap enough value from elite status to justify paying these amounts.
Also beware that if you participate in this promotion, you’re not actually buying elite qualifying miles or segments. You won’t actually get 5,000 EQMs for $399, for example, and your EQM or segment balance will not reflect the purchase. That’s why the prices vary based on mileage and tier. As the name suggests, these purchases are instead a boost to requalify or to reach the next level. Take that into consideration when plotting your elite status strategy.
US AIRWAYS FLYERS
The other big question mark is for the US Airways flyers. American and US announced that they would combine frequent flyer programs and elite status ranks in the second quarter of 2015.
That means if you have some elite qualifying activity with US, it will be combined with your AAdvantage qualifying activity from this year and will be reflected in your new status for 2015, though only time will tell when that actually swings into place.
US Airways is also planning to offer an elite status boost that probably looks much the same in the coming weeks, so if you’re a US Airways flyer, you’ll have to sit tight to find out the details.
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The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.