Why I haven’t made a requalification plan for American Airlines elite status yet
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I’ve already planned out how I’ll earn status with several programs in 2022. For example, I already have plans for earning Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status and World of Hyatt Globalist status. Likewise, I have a general idea of how I’ll get the remaining miles I need to requalify for Asiana Diamond.
But frankly, I haven’t made a concrete plan for how I’ll requalify for American AAdvantage status under the new Loyalty Points scheme.
The American Airlines AAdvantage program will use Loyalty Points for elite qualification starting in March. But although member activity in January and February will count toward earning Loyalty Points for 2023 status, American Airlines hasn’t been transparent with its members about how some activities will earn Loyalty Points in practice.
Here’s a closer look at the primary reasons I’m not actively working to earn Loyalty Points now and don’t yet have a plan for how I’ll earn American Airlines status for 2023.
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I don’t need the double-dipping opportunity
American is letting activity in January and February count double — once toward your 2021 elite qualification year under the current program, and again toward your 2022 elite qualification year under the new Loyalty Points program.
As a result, some travelers think now is the perfect time to double dip with American Airlines. And I agree — if you fell a bit short in the 2021 qualification year, it’s nice to have a few extra months to qualify for the status you want. And you can also get a head start on qualifying under the new Loyalty Points program.
But I already requalified for American Airlines Executive Platinum elite status at the end of 2021, and I’m not close to earning more elite choice rewards. I’m not motivated by the double-dipping aspect — especially since AAdvantage hasn’t clearly told its members how some activities will earn Loyalty Points.
You won’t earn Loyalty Points for every American mile you earn
The AAdvantage program has a flashy website set up for its new Loyalty Points program. The website proclaims, “Earning AAdvantage® status just got simpler” and says 1 eligible AAdvantage mile equals 1 Loyalty Point.
However, it’s not so simple. The information bubble in the above graphic notes “Eligible AAdvantage® Miles include all base miles you earn, as well as elite bonus and cabin bonus miles you earn from flying. See FAQs for exclusions.”
And until you scroll to the frequently asked questions section at the bottom of the webpage, you might not realize that many ways you can earn American Airlines miles won’t be eligible for Loyalty Points. The website notes the following miles won’t be eligible for Loyalty Points:
- Bonus miles earned from special promotions.
- Miles from buy, gift or transfer transactions.
- Conversion of another program currency to AAdvantage miles.
- Accelerators or multipliers on American Airlines credit cards (as such, you’ll earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on all purchases).
- Sign-up or spending bonuses on American Airlines credit cards.
Some of these exclusions are clear. For example, if you sign up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and earn its sign-up bonus (currently 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening), you’ll only earn 5,000 Loyalty Points. After all, sign-up bonuses aren’t eligible and, even though the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card earns 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, you’ll only earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on all purchases.
However, one exclusion isn’t so clear, and frankly seems like a catch-all for anything AAdvantage decides it doesn’t want to let members earn Loyalty Points on: “bonus miles earned from special promotions.”
It’s still unclear if and how some partner activity will earn Loyalty Points
The frequently asked questions section of the Loyalty Points website explains clearly how flights and credit card spending will earn Loyalty Points. However, AAdvantage is much less transparent regarding earning Loyalty Points with partners.
For example, “all base miles earned from spending with Loyalty Point-qualifying partners” will earn Loyalty Points. However, the Loyalty Points website states that “base offers vary by partner,” and many partners don’t mention base miles or Loyalty Points.
It’s unclear precisely what counts as base miles when making purchases with most partners. Here are some examples.
A clear example: Rocketmiles
You can earn American Airlines miles when you book through Rocketmiles. Luckily, Rocketmiles has updated its website to state:
New in 2022: unless specified, AAdvantage® base miles earned through this promotion/offer count toward Loyalty Points and AAdvantage® status (members will earn 1 Loyalty Point for every AAdvantage® base mile earned.) AAdvantage® bonus miles (such as bonus for first-time or repeat users) do not count towards Loyalty Points, AAdvantage® status, or AAdvantage® Million Miler(SM) status.
So, since Rocketmiles carefully distinguishes AAdvantage base miles from bonus miles in its fine print, you can presumably tell which miles will earn Loyalty Points.
Several unclear examples: Car rentals, American Airlines Vacations and AAdvantage eShopping
Unfortunately, not all partners have updated their websites or are careful in their terms.
For example, consider the 500 bonus miles you can earn when booking a rental of three or more days through aa.com/car. This site is a Loyalty Point-qualifying partner, but the fine print on this site notes, “Unless specified, AAdvantage miles earned through this promotion/offer do not count towards elite status qualification or AAdvantage Million Miler status.” It’s unclear how members would earn Loyalty Point-qualifying miles when booking a car through aa.com/car unless bonus miles are Loyalty Point-qualifying with this partner.
Additionally, consider American Airlines Vacations, which AAdvantage also lists as a Loyalty Point-qualifying partner. It’s unclear whether you’d earn Loyalty Points on a package’s bonus miles (such as the 1,000 miles for booking online) or whether you’d only earn Loyalty Points on the flights.
After all, the latter wouldn’t encourage members to book through American Airlines Vacations, since there are other ways to earn Loyalty Points when booking hotels and car rentals. But if the bonus miles aren’t Loyalty Point-qualifying miles, I don’t understand why AAdvantage would explicitly list American Airlines Vacations (but not other online travel agents) as a Loyalty Point-qualifying partner.
Additionally, the Loyalty Points website notes that you can earn Loyalty Points based on multipliers through AAdvantage eShopping. But the website is unclear whether (and if so, how) purchases that earn a higher-than-usual promotional multiplier or bounty will earn Loyalty Points.
To make matters worse, the Loyalty Points website notes, “Loyalty Points earned from eligible activity during January and February 2022 will appear in your account in early March 2022.” So you won’t know if and how purchases and activity during these two months will earn Loyalty Points until March.
It’s certainly possible that the base miles you see for purchases with Loyalty Point-eligible partners when looking at your account activity will be Loyalty Point-eligible. But it’s also possible that AAdvantage will go back and reclassify base and bonus points for activity in January and February when calculating Loyalty Points. We’re testing a variety of purchases and activities here at TPG and will let you know how everything posts in March.
Some travelers are working to maximize their Loyalty Points earning right now. For example, just last week, TPG’s Scott Mayerowitz wrote an article about an American Airlines shopping portal deal that he hopes will earn him 1,500 Loyalty Points. But, as he notes in the article, he isn’t sure whether any (or all) of the miles he’ll earn through this offer will qualify for Loyalty Points.
Even so, some American Airlines members are attempting to stack promotions aggressively. For example, some members have been buying wine, bonsai trees and more in the hope they’ll earn American Airlines miles, Loyalty Points, Amex Membership Rewards and/or statement credits. In some cases, even ignoring the potential to earn Loyalty Points, members may get more value back than the cost of their purchase.
But, as with any stacking promotion, there’s always the risk that something will go wrong. For example, the shopping portal might not provide rewards if you don’t click through its link or make an ineligible purchase. And if you want to stack rewards from the AAdvantage shopping portal with SimplyMiles, you’ll need to skip other online shopping portals that might be more lucrative.
So, if you’re considering a stacking promotion that you wouldn’t do without earning Loyalty Points, I’d recommend waiting. After all, once March arrives and Loyalty Points show up in member accounts, we’ll better understand which promotions are likely to earn Loyalty Points.
I’ve enjoyed the perks of American Airlines Executive Platinum status since 2016, so I wouldn’t take losing this status lightly.
But for now, it’s impossible to determine how many Loyalty Points you’ll earn with some partners. I’m waiting until at least March to make any serious plans to requalify.
Although I could credit my Oneworld flights to another program, I expect I’ll end up pushing to qualify for at least American AAdvantage Platinum Pro elite status. But I’ll still have about a year to do so even once we have a better idea this March of how purchases with certain partners earn Loyalty Points.
Featured photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.
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