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TPG reader Al sent me a message on Facebook asking:

“US Airways just quietly posted their revised buy-up to elite program, which is pretty close if not identical to American’s boost program. Do you think it’s worth it to buy up for higher elite status?”

It’s December, which means it’s crunch time for elite status. Deciding whether to buy up to elite status really depends on your needs. It’s definitely not cheap; buying up to Executive Platinum status on American costs almost $2,500, and that’s if you’re just 15,000 miles Elite Qualifying Miles short. That’s a substantial expense.

However, I think Executive Platinum status is the most valuable elite status on there. You get eight systemwide upgrades on any fare class with no specific surcharges. I find Executive Platinum to be worth at least $4,000, so in a worst case scenario, I think buying up to Executive Platinum is worthwhile. The difference between Executive at 50,000 miles and Executive Platinum is huge, especially since AA confirmed that going forward, the program will only have three levels of status.

The elite status hamster wheel...but is the status always worth the chasing (and the $$)? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
The elite status hamster wheel: is it worth the chase? Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

That being said, it’s much cheaper to mileage run. These rates are almost 20 cents per mile, so if you can, try to take a mileage run–go to London for a weekend, or even Asia (and use any of those systemwide upgrades that you have). After all, it’s crunch time and you gotta do what you gotta do!

In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend shelling out cash for the other elite tiers, but for Executive Platinum it could be justifiable if you’ll maximize the upgrades and travel enough to get value of the great customer service AA gives to its Executive Platinum members. Try to do it the cheaper (and harder) way by mileage running first, and if you don’t have the time or prices are just as high, then it may make sense to buy up.

For more info, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com

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Intro APR on Purchases
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