The Pros and Cons of American Airlines’ Business Extra Program
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Did you know that American Airlines has a business rewards program? American Airlines’ Business Extra program is a great way for businesses large and small to get credit for booking flights for employees.
And now is a great time to take a fresh look at Business Extra. New members who sign up using the promo code BX20UPGWELCOME and fly within 30 days will receive 650 bonus points. That’s enough for a one-way upgrade to Hawaii or the Caribbean. The offer is valid through December 31, 2017.
There’s also a promotion for those of us who already have an account: Register using the promo code BX20UPG2 and fly between September 7 and October 31, 2017 to earn 650 points.
For those new or inexperienced with Business Extra, let’s take a look at the program’s pros and cons.
1. Low minimums for your business to be eligible
Unlike Delta’s SkyBonus program, there’s no minimum spending required to enter or remain in the program. You just need a minimum of two travelers.
2. Simple earning structure.
You’ll earn 1 point per $5 spent on eligible flights. And, unlike Delta’s SkyBonus and United’s PerksPlus accounts, you won’t get a lower earning rate for flying to or from hubs.
That seems simple enough, but you do need to eliminate taxes and fees when calculating potential earnings. So, that $600 ticket isn’t going to simply be 120 points.
3. Business Extra points earned in addition to AAdvantage miles
It’s worth emphasizing that these points are a bonus for the business and are earned on top of the traveler’s AAdvantage award miles earned from the same flights. If you’re the business owner, you’re essentially able to double-dip on eligible flights.
4. Lots of redemption options
Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can redeem for free flights, flight upgrades, AAdvanatge Gold elite status or Admirals Club Membership or day passes.
5. Decent expiration policy
Points expire at December 31 two years after the date earned. That means if you fly in January 2018, you’ll have until December 31, 2020 to spend those points. The downside is that points can’t be extended through activity; this is a hard expiration policy.
6. Redemptions start at just 300 points
If you’ve got points expiring soon, the good news is that you can start redeeming after spending just $1,500 before taxes/fees on eligible flights. The lowest cost redemption is a one-day pass to the Admirals Club. Because these day passes cost $59 to purchase outright, that’s a decent ~4% return on your flight spending.
Speaking of Admirals Club, you can also redeem 3,000 points ($15,000 of spending before taxes/fees) for a one-year Admirals Club membership. Personally, we’d rather use the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard to get an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder and add up to 10 employees as authorized users to get them Admirals Club access.
7. There’s an easy way to automate earnings
It’d be a pain to have to remember to enter your Business Extra number each time you, your employees and other travelers book a flight. Thankfully there’s a way of adding your Business Extra number to each traveler’s AAdvantage account. This will auto-fill the number on all future bookings done through AA.com.
1. Restrictions on eligible flights.
To be sure to earn points, you’ll need to fly on American Airlines. Thanks to AA’s joint venture with British Airways and Iberia, flights on these airlines are also eligible as long as you’re ticketed through American Airlines (001 ticket stock), British Airways (125 ticket stock) or Iberia (075 ticket stock). Finally, you can earn points from “eligible codeshare flights on Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qantas, ticketed on American Airlines (001) ticket stock.”
2. Restrictions on fare classes eligible for upgrades
So, you’ve finally spent enough to purchase an upgrade. You should have an eligible flight purchased to apply it to or you might waste those points. These upgrades can’t be applied to “deep discount” fare codes N, O, Q, S, B. These are the fare codes that you’ll usually be booked into when booking a Deal Alert.
3. Upgrades are only for one segment
While the “Int’l One-Way Upgrade on Discounted Fare” (3,100 points requiring $15,500 in spending before tax) might seem like a systemwide upgrade and applicable to multiple segments, the fine print says this upgrade is only a “one-segment cabin upgrade.” The same is also true for domestic upgrades.
4. Only the bottom-tier elite status can be redeemed for
After spending $16,000 before taxes/fees on eligible flights (3,200 points), you finally have enough points for… bottom-tier AAdvantage elite status. We value AAdvantage Gold at $1,005, but that’s assuming you’re going to fly enough to use the perks (upgrades, complimentary preferred seating, mileage bonus). And if the traveler flies that much, he or she going to earn status anyways. But, I guess this could be a good perk for new employees.
5. Manually requesting points is a pain
Forgot to include your Business Extra number at booking? You have two not-so-pleasant options: calling before your flight (1-800-457-7072, 8:00am to 7:00pm Central, Monday-Friday) to request your number be added or waiting until the month of flights are processed by Business Extra and file a manual request for points. To make this request, you’re going to need the airline code, ticket number, departure date and full name of the passenger:
If you fly American Airlines, it’s certainly worth looking into American Airlines Business Extra program to double dip on your flights. Remember to sign up for a new account with the current promo code, or apply the new promo code to existing accounts. Save yourself some hassle by adding your Business Extra account number to everyone’s AAdvantage accounts.
Featured image by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images.
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