Skip to content

These lucky travelers are about to earn American Airlines elite status without leaving home

July 09, 2020
4 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

One of the best ways to fast track to elite status is by participating in a challenge.

Once you've enrolled in a status challenge, you'll typically be given status for a few months. During this time you're required to fly a prorated number of flights (and spend a fraction of the normal amount) to secure status throughout the rest of the year.

Travelers who were in the midst of participating in a status challenge when coronavirus halted travel faced an issue: They couldn't complete their challenges due to the myriad of stay-at-home and quarantine orders.

Each U.S. airline approached this situation differently. Today, we're the first to exclusively report that American Airlines will become the most generous of the big three U.S. carriers in how they're handling status challenges.

For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

For those who got close to earning status

If you were enrolled in an active challenge on March 31, with an end date of April 1 or later, there's a good chance that your AAdvantage account was updated with elite status through Jan. 31, 2022.

If you completed at least 80% of the elite qualifying dollar (EQD) requirement of your eligible challenge, your account will be automatically updated with the full status that you were working toward. That's great news for those who were close to completing a challenge but couldn't cross the finish line.

This is by far more generous than both Delta and United. Both airlines are requiring that customers restart their challenges when they're ready to travel again, assuming they weren't fully completed.

Of the major U.S. carriers, Alaska Airlines was the most generous since it granted full elite status through Dec. 31, 2021 for anyone enrolled in a challenge, regardless of how much flying they'd done.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Only time will tell if any of the other carriers decide to match American's move.

An American Boeing 737 in Miami (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

A fresh start for everyone else

American is also welcoming back members who didn't meet 80% of the EQD requirement. These members will be given a new challenge opportunity. Sadly, none of the original progress will roll over, so you'll need to start from scratch. The updated challenge opportunities will be communicated "soon."

An American Airlines spokesperson confirms that many of the challenges will have lower thresholds than the ones before the pandemic. Additionally, a majority of the offers will be reverse challenges, so members can enjoy the benefits of temporary status while working toward their goals.

Either way, it certainly stings if you were really close to the 80% threshold and just missed it by a few dollars.

Related: Complete guide to coronavirus and airline elite status

Details of the new status challenge offer

Each affected customer will have a new, unique challenge offer, which will be communicated directly from the AAdvantage team. Depending on when the new offers are released, travel will have hopefully resumed across the board, making it easier to earn towards the goals.

American Flagship First (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

This is the latest move in a string of updates to the AAdvantage program. It all started when the carrier extended all currently valid elite status through Jan. 31, 2022. As part of the news, AA also introduced an offer for booking a Vacations package, as well as a promotion to earn lifetime Million Miler status through credit card spend. Additionally, the carrier debuted an automatic mileage reinstatement feature, which makes it easy to cancel awards online and get your miles back instantly.

Though these are primarily customer-friendly adjustments, American made some negative changes too. It removed its beloved legacy award search tool. The Fort Worth, TX-based carrier also updated its award fee structure, which removed some of the flexibility of Saver and AAnytime awards.

Nonetheless, for those who were in the midst of completing a status challenge, this new policy will likely bring good news, depending on how much money you spent with the carrier through Mar. 31. If you were at 80% or more of the way through your EQD requirement, you'll be elite through next year. If not, you'll have reduced thresholds to hit in a new challenge.

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more