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Use this trick to earn American Airlines elite status through hotel stays

Nov. 05, 2020
6 min read
American Airlines Planes at O'Hare
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Airline elite status can be very valuable, so it should come as no surprise that many flyers to go great lengths to ensure they requalify. Unlike hotels, there typically aren't many ways to fast-track your progress toward airline status.

There is, however, an unconventional way of earning American Airlines elite status that doesn’t even require you to take a flight. More specifically, you can shortcut to AAdvantage Gold through hotel stays without needing to complete any status challenges or meeting spending thresholds on a co-branded card.

This opportunity is available to anyone participating in Business Extra, American's loyalty program for businesses. Even if you don't currently have an account, you're still going to want to keep reading since you may be eligible without even realizing it.

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As mentioned above, this shortcut to elite status is available to Business Extra members. The program is open to all companies with two or more employee travelers and registering is very straightforward. Companies are usually automatically validated during the enrollment process, but if that isn't the case, you may need to submit documentation to validate your company's account credentials and confirm you have two or more employees that travel.

With no cost and minimal requirements to join, there’s no reason why business owners shouldn't sign up.

Related: Guide to earning and burning with American Airlines’ Business Extra program

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Fast-tracking AAdvantage elite status with Rocketmiles and Business Extra

Companies earn one point per $5 spent on eligible American Airlines and partner flights with the Business Extra program. These points can be redeemed for everything from free flights to upgrades to Admirals Club day passes and more. For 3,200 points, you can even gift AAdvantage Gold status. However, your company does not actually have to spend $16,000 on airfare to earn 3,200 points.

The easiest and quickest way to accumulate a lot of Business Extra points is through Rocketmiles hotel bookings. Rocketmiles is an online travel agency that allows you to earn dozens of different types of points, miles and gift cards, including Business Extra points, through hotel stays.

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By booking through the Rocketmiles site, your company can earn between 20 and 500 Business Extra points per night. In other words, at the minimum, a single hotel night booked through Rocketmiles would earn the same amount of points as $100 spent on eligible airfare.

Related: The best credit cards to jumpstart elite status

There's no set rate of how many points you'll earn per dollar spent on hotels, but for the sake of this article, let's look at a one-night stay in Las Vegas on a weeknight in mid-December. One of the first results is for a room at the Luxor for $170 (before taxes and fees), earning 340 Business Extra points.

(Photo by Rocketmiles)

So, if you stayed at $170-per-night hotels for 10 nights over the course of two years (since Business Extra points expire two years after they're earned), you could accumulate enough points for AAdvantage Gold.

However, as previously stated, the amount of points you earn at a hotel varies, so it is possible that your $170 booking earns more or less than the 340 points we were offered. For example, the Tuscany Suites and Casino has a similar rate but earns a third of the points.

(Photo by Rocketmiles)

Meanwhile, Caesars Palace is available for $99 and earns 140 points.

(Photo by Rocketmiles)

Related: The best hotel credit cards

Things to consider

There are a couple of things to consider before booking your next hotel stay with Rocketmiles. The biggest tradeoff is that you typically won’t earn points with the chain's loyalty program by not booking directly with the hotel. That being said, if you have elite status with a hotel’s program, you may still get your member benefits.

Another thing to consider is the price. In this example, Rocketmiles offered the same rates as the hotels did directly, but sometimes properties are more expensive when booking using Rocketmiles. You need to determine if and how much of a premium your company is willing to pay for the points. That said, Rocketmiles has been trying to become more competitive with its rates and now lets you compare rates with (its parent company) directly on its site.

Related: Your guide to the best way to book your next hotel

Stays booked through Rocketmiles don't earn hotel points, but you could still enjoy perks if you have elite status with the chain. (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Although it’s not worth going on a mattress run and spending over $2,000 in hotel stays just for AAdvantage Gold, if your company would be booking 10 nights at a hotel over the course of two years anyway, this is something worth considering. However, since you'll probably be missing out on hotel rewards points, you need to decide whether you value hotel perks and status or airline elite status more. Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to fast-track hotel elite status if you forgo booking direct.

As the lowest elite tier in American’s program, Gold status is often underestimated — many people believe they can get the same perks from American’s co-branded credit cards. Although it’s quite rare to get upgrades, perks like priority access, access to Main Cabin Extra Seats at check-in, free standby for later flights and a 40% mileage bonus can be very valuable.

Keep in mind that you may also be able to fast-track American Airlines status if you're a Hyatt elite. However, you'd need to complete a challenge, including meeting a spending requirement.

Featured image by Corbis via Getty Images