Start now: Qualify for American Airlines elite status from credit card spending alone

Jan 7, 2022

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information. You can now start earning towards 2023 status through cobranded American Airlines credit cards. 

Starting this year, American Airlines will make it possible to earn elite status entirely through cobranded credit card spending.

As announced in October 2021, American Airlines is completely overhauling how AAdvantage members will achieve elite status in 2022 and beyond. Various elite-qualifying metrics such as miles, segments, and dollars will fade into the past. Instead, the primary metric going forward will be “Loyalty Points.” The qualifying year will also shift from the calendar year to begin on March 1 of every year, with a special period of January-February, 2022 offering some interesting opportunities to rack up more qualifying activity.

TPG’s Zach Griff detailed many of the changes in depth, but the short version is: Flying will be only one of several ways to earn Loyalty Points toward elite status with American Airlines, and cobranded credit card spending will take on a new prominence.

That’s notable for several reasons. Some other airlines — including Delta, Southwest, and United — already award certain cobranded credit cardholders with elite-qualifying activity based on their card spending. American Airlines has, too, but it’s been relatively limited.

Now though, spending on a wide range of the airline’s cobranded credit cards could get you to elite status on its own. Just note that you will still have to fly 30 segments per year to unlock key benefits at higher tiers like Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can qualify (or requalify) as an American elite member through the airline’s credit cards and why now is the crucial time to get your spending strategy in place.

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Qualify for status with credit card spending in 2022

American Airlines plane at a gate
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Loyalty Points required for status

First, a reminder of how many Loyalty Points you’ll need in a qualifying year in order to achieve each tier of AAdvantage status.

Status tier Loyalty Points required
Gold 30,000
Platinum 75,000
Platinum Pro 125,000
Executive Platinum 200,000

Cards that qualify

All Citi AAdvantage and Barclays AAdvantage Aviator credit cards are eligible to earn Loyalty Points, while those with AAdvantage cards issued outside the U.S. should inquire about specifics with their bank. Some of the most popular cobranded American Airlines cards include:

The information for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select and AAdvantage Aviator cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.

How you earn Loyalty Points

You’ll receive 1 Loyalty Point for each base AAdvantage mile earned. In practice, that means 1 AAdvantage mile and 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent with any of the cards above. Unfortunately, sign-up bonuses, limited-time spending offers, and category multipliers — for instance, if you earn 2 miles per dollar on dining with your specific card — are excluded from counting toward Loyalty Points accrual.

It’s pretty simple to see how you can earn status from spending alone — or a combination of credit card spending, flying and other qualifying activities.

For instance, you could earn AAdvantage Gold Elite status by spending $30,000 on one of the American Airlines cobranded cards within the qualifying year.

The same could be said for even top-tier Executive Platinum status and $200,000 in spending (though without flying 30 segments during the qualifying year, you’d miss out on the Loyalty Choice Rewards — more on those below).

The timing matters

Previously, the elite-qualifying metrics reset on Jan. 1 each, and you’d have between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 to qualify for the following year’s status. Going forward, the elite-qualification period will last from March 1 through Feb. 28 of the following year.

However, for 2022, you’re going to have 14 months (instead of 12) to earn 2023 elite status — from January 2022 through February 2023, since January and February of 2022 are considered “double dip” months.

You now have two more months to achieve status for 2022 under the outgoing elite-qualifying miles, segments and dollars system. In addition, your earnings in the first two months of this year will be added to your Loyalty Points balance when the revamped program launches on March 1. Note, your Loyalty Points from card spending won’t appear on your AAdvantage account until then.

Speaking of timing, AAdvantage credit card spending will count toward Loyalty Points based on when the activity posts to your AAdvantage account. That could take up to a few billing cycles. For instance, the mileage activity from holiday shopping with an AAdvantage card in late December might not post onto your account for several weeks into the new year. Thanks to this two-month grace period, though, that could help boost your Loyalty Points in 2022.

Related: 11 things you might’ve missed in American’s massive loyalty program update

Bonuses for select AAdvantage cards

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Select AAdvantage credit cards have historically offered an additional boost to elite-qualifying miles and/or elite-qualifying collars, both of which are being phased out later in 2022. Instead, you’ll soon be able to get a Loyalty Points bonus after hitting certain spending criteria.

Here’s what that looks like.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: This card actually offers what could be an incredible opportunity to double dip on spending toward status. Previously, the card awarded members who spent $40,000 on purchases in a calendar year with 10,000 elite-qualifying miles (EQMs). Going forward, cardholders who spend $40,000 in a qualifying year (March 1 – Feb. 28) will earn 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points.

For this year only, though, cardholders can actually count their spending in January and February 2022 toward their EQM balance from 2021 and toward earning those bonus Loyalty Points for future status. In other words, purchases made with this card during this two-month period will count toward earning EQMs and Loyalty Points for both 2022 and 2023 status.

AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard: This card is another solid choice for status-seekers. Until now, the card has offered $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) toward status to those who spent $50,000 on purchases in a calendar year, but this has been extended through Feb. 28, 2022 for this year as American shifts its elite-status year.

Also, between Jan. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023, cardholders who spend $20,000 in eligible purchases will earn 5,000 additional Loyalty Points. Then, you’ll get 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. That’s up to 15,000 potential Loyalty Points. Let’s say you did hit that amount of spending — you’d end up with 65,000 Loyalty Points, which is more than enough for Platinum status and nearly all the way to Platinum Pro.

Related: American completely revamps how you earn elite status with new ‘Loyalty Points’

What you don’t earn from credit card spending alone

Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status holders receive “Loyalty Choice Awards,” such as systemwide upgrades, which are not granted unless you also fly 30 segments with American or qualifying partners in the elite-status year. So if you are going for the top tiers of status and want to enjoy the attendant benefits, you’re still going to have to do a fair bit of flying each year.

Bottom line

Although certain American Airlines cobranded cards provided elite-status boosts based on spending, the revamp of the AAdvantage program and its elite-qualification requirements in 2022 means that credit card spending will play a much more important role for many of the airline’s most loyal customers, and now is the time to formulate your strategy for maximum impact.

While many elite flyers will probably use some combination of credit card spending and traditional flying to hit their tier of choice, remember that, to fully enjoy the elevated benefits of Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status, you’re still going to have to travel some with the airline and its partners.

For those simply looking to get to Gold or Platinum, though, the ability to earn elite-qualifying Loyalty Points based on everyday spending is sure to be a welcome change that might even help them attain a higher tier of status than they might have been able to before.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh and Eric Rosen.

Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy. 

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