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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

TPG reader Tony is concerned about American’s new Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) requirement, and sent us a Facebook message asking if his Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard can help…

I’m trying to reach Gold status on American, but you now have to spend $3,000 in EQD’s. If I spend $3,000 on my Citi AAdvantage card, does that also apply to the EQD’s?

TPG Reader Tony

American was the last of the three legacy carriers to introduce a spend requirement for elite status, but the metric is now officially in place for 2017. This means in addition to earning a set number of Elite Qualifying Miles or Elite Qualifying Segments, you also have to spend a minimum amount of money with American as well.

American’s Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) requirement ranges from $3,000 to $12,000 depending on the tier.

The amount varies depending on what elite level you’re aiming for, but it starts at $3,000 for Gold and goes all the way up to $12,000 for Executive Platinum. So does spending money on co-branded American Airlines credit cards count toward this new EQD requirement? No… and yes. In other words, it’s complicated.

First, we need to remember that American actually offers co-branded credit cards from two completely separate banks. Citibank has the AAdvantage line of cards, while Barclaycard offers several versions of its Aviator card. Cards from both banks earn redeemable AAdvantage miles, but only one bank — Barclaycard — offers credit cards that will help you earn AA Elite Qualifying Dollars.

Even with Barclaycard Aviator cards, spending $3,000 on an Aviator card does not equal $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars. Instead, by spending $25,000 in a calendar year on either the Aviator Red, Aviator Blue, Aviator Silver or Aviator Business cards, you’ll earn a flat $3,000 in EQDs.

IMG-aa-aviator-cards2
Earn $3,000 in EQDs with one of these four cards.

You can only earn the $3,000 in EQDs each year on one of those three cards, but if you also have the Aviator Silver, you can get a second $3,000 in EQDs by spending an additional $25,000 on that card. In total, spending a calendar year total of $50,000 on the right two Aviator cards will get you $6,000 in EQDs for the year. The bad news is you can’t apply directly for the Aviator Silver — you have to upgrade to it from another Aviator card.

If all of that sounds needlessly convoluted to you, it is. Delta and United make it much easier to entirely waive their elite qualifying spend requirement through their respective co-branded credit cards, and though United will only let you waive the requirement for elite tiers below United Premier 1K, Delta will waive it for any elite level up through the highest Delta Diamond.

So Tony, you can’t earn dollar-for-dollar American EQDs with credit card spend, but you do have a few options if you have an Aviator card. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader with a question you’d like answered, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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