How spending on your American Airlines credit card can help you earn Million Miler status

Apr 14, 2020

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Coronavirus concerns have severely decreased travel worldwide. In yesterday’s announcement, American Airlines joined the multitude of hotels and airlines offering elite status extensions and more to encourage loyalty once travelers can be on the road again.

There’s one aspect of American’s announcement that may be of particular interest to cardholders of cobranded American Airlines credit cards. Specifically, we learned that for all Citi/AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator credit card products, every dollar spent on net purchases that post between May 2020 and Dec. 2020 will count toward Million Miler status.

Flagship Lounge LAX seating area
A seating area in the Flagship Lounge at LAX. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

 

This is big news for those seeking Million Miler status with American Airlines. Back in 2011, all redeemable miles earned from any source — including credit card spend and sign-up bonuses — counted towards Million Miler status. But, in December of that year, AA introduced a refreshed Million Miler program that only awarded Million Miler status based on miles flown. This new limited-time promotion for cardholders of eligible cobranded American Airlines credit cards may be just what you need to level up.

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Eligible AAdvantage cards

As mentioned above, all U.S.-issued Citi/AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator cards are eligible for this promotion. Here’s a comparison of the Citi- and Barclays-issued American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards that are currently available for new applicants:

Credit card Welcome bonus Annual fee Earning capabilities
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card
10,000 miles and a $50 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening $0 2x miles at grocery stores and on eligible American Airlines purchases

1x elsewhere

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard 60,000 miles after you make a purchase and pay the annual fee within the first 90 days of card opening $99 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases

1x elsewhere

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases the first three months of account opening $99 2x miles at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases

1x elsewhere

AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, and an additional 10,000 miles when an employee card is used for a purchase $95 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, office supply stores, telecom expenses and car rentals

1x elsewhere

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
65,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first four months of account opening $99 (waived the first 12 months) 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, telecom, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations

1x elsewhere

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening $450 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases

1x elsewhere

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card, AAdvantage Aviator Red and AAdvantage Aviator Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Note that these are the cards currently accepting applications. But, some other Barclays-issued American Airlines cards may be available for current Aviator cardholders looking to product change.

Related reading: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Should you charge everyday spending to an American Airlines card?

There are a few scenarios in which spending on a cobranded American Airlines card to earn Million Miler status may be worthwhile. Here are some sample scenarios:

  • You are close to earning Million Miler status or leveling up to the next tier
  • You could benefit from lifetime status but your travel will be limited going forward
  • You could benefit from lifetime status but you don’t currently qualify organically
  • You simply want to accelerate your progress toward earning Million Miler status

If you’re going to earn miles toward Million Miler status via credit card spending, timing is important. After all, the purchases must post to your AAdvantage account between May 2020 and Dec. 2020 to count.

Although every dollar you spend gets you closer to Million Miler status, you’ll also be earning redeemable AAdvantage miles. Some of the cobranded American Airlines cards even earn bonus miles on purchases you’re likely still making while grounded. Specifically, the no-annual-fee American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card earns 2x miles at grocery stores, while the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® offers 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations.

This being said, you can certainly earn more on your grocery, dining and business expenses with other cards. So, there is an opportunity cost to using your cobranded American Airlines cards for these expenses in order to earn Million Miler status.

Related reading: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Should you pay your taxes with an American airlines card?

Photo by Johner Images/Getty Images
(Photo by Johner Images/Getty Images)

Since the IRS extended the personal tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, you could wait until at least the beginning of May to file and pay your taxes with an American Airlines card. This way, you’d earn miles that would count toward your Million Miler balance on what may be a large bill.

You could also apply now for a new cobranded American Airlines credit card and then use this card to pay your taxes. Depending on how much you owe in taxes and how far you are from earning Million Miler status, you might be able to earn the sign-up bonus and reach Million Miler status through paying your taxes — or at least make progress towards both thresholds.

Related reading: The best limited-time credit card offers to sign up for this month

The sign-up bonus shouldn’t count toward your Million Miler balance since American clearly notes “every dollar spent on net purchases that post to your AAdvantage account between May and December 2020 will count as one mile toward Million Miler status.” But category bonuses do count towards lifetime status.

But, should you pay your taxes with a credit card? If you have a large tax bill, it can be a good idea to sign-up for a new card and then use the tax bill to reach the minimum spending requirements to earn the sign-up bonus. But, note that you’ll pay a fee of 1.87% to 1.99% of the amount paid when you use a credit card to pay your taxes. So, you need to decide whether the rewards and benefits you’ll get from paying with a card are worth incurring the fee. In the case of using an American Airlines card to spend toward Million Miler status, this decision depends on how close you are to reaching Million Miler status and how much value you’ll get from having Million Miler status.

Related reading: Paying taxes with your credit card

Is Million Miler status worth it?

Miles earned toward American Airlines Million Miler status are based on the distance of your flight for travel on American marketed flights or the base miles earned for travel on eligible partner marketed flights. To see where you currently stand, log in to your AAdvantage account and select Activity at the top of your account.

Once you earn Million Miler status, you’ll gain access to the following benefits:

  • At one million miles: AAdvantage Gold status for the life of the program and 35,000 AAdvantage bonus miles
  • At two million miles: AAdvantage Platinum status for the life of the program and four one-way systemwide upgrades
  • At each additional million miles: Four additional one-way systemwide upgrades

Although lifetime status can be useful, I personally wouldn’t go out of the way to earn Million Miler status. After all, if you travel frequently with American Airlines, you likely hold AAdvantage status. And, if you don’t travel all that frequently, then you may be better off relying on benefits from credit cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

This being said, if you have a Million Miler balance that is close to next threshold and you aren’t traveling frequently enough with American to earn status organically, it may very well be worth spending on an American Airlines card to get there.

Related reading: Is it worth pursuing lifetime elite status?

Related reading

Featured image by Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

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