Why now is the perfect time to be double dipping with American Airlines
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Out with the old, in with the new for American’s AAdvantage loyalty program.
Historically, earning status with American has required a mix of elite-qualifying flights and some level of minimum spend.
Well, along with the new year comes a new way to qualify for American Airlines’ elite status.
The Fort Worth-based airline is changing the program with the introduction of Loyalty Points, the new elite currency that’ll determine your status level. It’s a sweeping change for how elites do business with American.
Along with the new currency comes a new elite-qualifying calendar, and that’s exactly why now is the perfect time to be doing business with American Airlines.
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The basics of Loyalty Points
As mentioned, Loyalty Points are American’s new elite currency.
The airline will still award status progress from flying, but it’s expanding the qualifying activity to include spending on cobranded credit cards and many other non-flying activities.
You’ll earn one Loyalty Point for each qualifying AAdvantage mile earned from the following partners:
- Flying American Airlines — the original way to earn AAdvantage miles. General members continue to earn five award miles per dollar spent, Gold members earn seven, Platinum members earn eight, Platinum Pro members earn nine and Executive Platinum members earn 11 AAdvantage miles. Those will translate 1:1 into Loyalty Points.
- Flying partner airlines: Loyalty Points are earned by flying on all Oneworld airlines, as well as partners JetBlue and GOL.
- Spending on cobranded credit cards: American’s numerous cobranded credit cards will earn a single Loyalty Point per dollar spent, but sign-up bonuses, spending offers and category multiplier bonuses won’t earn points. Regardless, this should be a very popular way to earn Loyalty Points.
- Portal sites: AAdvantage eShopping, AAdvantage Dining, SimplyMiles
- Hotels: bookaahotels.com, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Marriott Vacations, RocketMiles
- Car rentals: aa.com/car, Avis, Budget, Payless, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, National, Sixt
- Cruises: bookaacruises.com
- Retail: Shell, WeWork, Vinesse, FTD, Vivid Seats, NRG Energy, Reliant Energy, Xoom, Miles for Opinion
As you accumulate Loyalty Points, you’ll qualify for status according to the table below.
For more details, take a look at TPG’s comprehensive guide to earning Loyalty Points.
American’s new elite-qualifying calendar
Along with the introduction of Loyalty Points comes a revamped elite-qualifying year.
Historically, American’s elite-qualifying metrics reset on Jan. 1, and you’d have between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 to qualify for the following year’s status.
In the new AAdvantage elite program, the qualification period will last from March 1 through Feb. 28 of the following year (or Feb. 29 during a leap year). If you achieve elite status during the qualification period, your status will be valid through the following March 31.
Given that 2022 marks American’s transition to Loyalty Points, the carrier is offering a limited-time double-dipping opportunity.
The 2-month sweet spot
All qualifying activity completed in January and February 2022 will count toward earning status for the 2022 membership year and for the 2023 membership year.
That means you have two more months to achieve status for 2022 under the outgoing elite-qualifying miles, segments and dollars scheme, and whatever you earn in the first two months this year will be added to your Loyalty Points balance when the revamped program launches on March 1.
This offer also applies to Elite Choice Rewards. Even if you’ve already requalified for top-tier status, any additional flying you do in the first two months of 2022 can help unlock additional rewards when you hit 120,000, 160,000 and 200,000 elite-qualifying miles.
Mapping out January and February
Between now and Feb. 28, 2022, every qualifying mile you earn with American will be added to your Loyalty Points balance when it launches — and appears in your account — on March 1.
From Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, Every flight you take with American or its partners will count towards your status metrics from 2021. Even if you didn’t hit your desired tier last year, you now have until the end of February to close the gap.
Additionally, all your qualifying flights from January and February will be added to your Loyalty Points balance when it appears in your account on March 1.
Cobranded credit card spend
All your cobranded credit card spending that posts to your AAdvantage account in January and February will count toward your Loyalty Points balance when it launches in March.
For every dollar that you spend on a cobranded American Airlines credit card, you’ll earn one Loyalty Point. Eligible cards include all Citi AAdvantage and Barclays AAdvantage Aviator credit cards as well as AAdvantage cards issued outside the U.S. (though you might have to contact your issuer for their exact terms).
Note that sign-up bonuses, limited-time spending offers and bonus category multipliers (groceries, gas, dining, etc.) are excluded from earning Loyalty Points.
In addition to earning one Loyalty Point per dollar spent, some cards are offering additional spend bonuses.
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard cardmembers: Between Jan. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases and earn 5,000 additional Loyalty Points. Then, earn another 5,000 Loyalty Points if you spend $40,000 on purchases and another 5,000 Loyalty Points if you spend $50,000 or more on purchases in this timeframe. So if you spend $50,000 on your card during the qualification period, you’ll earn 15,000 Loyalty Points.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® cardmembers: You will earn 10,000 additional Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 in eligible purchases between Jan. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023.
The two aforementioned cards also offered bonus elite-qualifying miles and dollars based on certain spend thresholds in 2021.
The window to make that spend has also been extended until Feb. 28, 2022. That means that all spending from Jan. 1, 2022, through Feb. 28, 2022, counts towards both EQM and EQD benefits and the additional Loyalty Points.
Shopping and dining portals, hotels, rental cars
Under the outgoing elite-qualifying metrics, activities with non-flying partners did not help you earn status.
That said, any activity that you complete with the aforementioned non-flying partners (shopping and dining portals, hotels, rental cars, etc) will count toward your Loyalty Points balance, starting from Jan. 1, 2022.
Even though the program doesn’t officially launch until March 1, these activities that post to your AAdvantage account in January and February will be converted into Loyalty Points in early March.
My American elite status strategy
Personally, I ended 2021 with 109,195 elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) and over 18,000 elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs), which helped me requalify for Executive Platinum status.
That said, I plan on using the two-month double-dipping opportunity to earn an additional 11,000 EQMs to qualify for the first tier of additional Executive Platinum rewards, which includes a pick of two additional systemwide upgrades, 40,000 bonus miles or a gift of Gold status.
Going forward, I’ll also shift most of my online shopping spending to American’s eShopping portal, and begin looking for offers on the SimplyMiles platform that I can save to my American credit card. Then, I’ll look for merchants that are both the eShopping and SimplyMiles portal for another double-dipping opportunity.
Depending on my travel patterns in the first half of the year, I’ll reevaluate my status qualification to see if I should shift some credit card spending to an American card to help me close the gap to elite status.
If you’re taking to the skies in January and February, all qualifying flights will count toward both your 2021 status metrics and will be added to your Loyalty Points balance when it launches in March.
Even if you’ve stopped flying due to the omicron variant, all non-air activities completed in January and February — purchases with shopping and dining portals, partner hotels and more — will give you a two-month head-start to earning Loyalty Points.
Plus, if you have a cobranded American credit card, all your spending that posts to your AAdvantage account in January and February will count towards your Loyalty Points balance.
All told, there’s no better time to do business with American Airlines than now.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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