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American Airlines ditches physical elite status cards, luggage tags

Sept. 25, 2020
3 min read
American Airlines ditches physical elite status cards, luggage tags
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There are many perks of airline elite status.

Some of the most lucrative ones include space-available complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, lounge access when traveling internationally and more. Top-tier elites even get upgrade certificates that can be applied to bump up to long-haul business class.

When achieving elite status, many flyers are naturally excited about their accomplishment. And what better way to celebrate than by adding a bag tag prominently displaying your status to your carry-on?

Well, from now on, you won't be receiving a bag tag or physical membership card when achieving elite status with American Airlines.

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Instead, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the airline (and first reported by Gary Leff), AAdvantage elites who qualify for status will now receive a digital membership welcome kit. This online pamphlet will outline the benefits of your status, provide you with the elite-only reservations phone number and congratulate you on your achievement.

American will continue sending physical mailers for its top-tier, invite-only status, ConciergeKey, as confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Some elites will surely be upset that they can't wear their status on their bags. But with reduced demand for travel, there's less flying going on nowadays.

Photo from The Points Guy archives

The pandemic is likely also the reason why AA decided to forgo sending out these mailers. As the airline looks to cut costs and reduce cash burn, sending physical mailers is a substantial line item.

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Related: The complete guide to American AAdvantage elite status

Aside from the missing bag tags, American's move doesn't have too many other implications. You don't need a physical AAdvantage membership card to earn miles or access AA lounges. However, gaining entry to some international partner lounges might have been easier with your physical card. Either way, pulling up your status on the latest version of the AA app should be enough to get you entry.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The other part of the travel journey that might be disrupted is the check-in experience. The airport kiosks can use the physical membership card to look up your reservation. Without the cards, you'll need to either enter your AAdvantage number or reservation record locator to pull up your flight. But now that the future is touchless, most elites will likely end up checking in with their phones, bypassing the kiosks all together.

If you're a newly-minted AA elite or recently requalified (at the reduced thresholds), don't wait by the mailbox. Your membership kit is waiting for you online.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff)

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees