Starting in 2022: How to qualify for American elite status from credit card spending alone
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Starting in 2022, American Airlines will make it possible to earn elite status entirely through cobranded credit card spending.
As announced on Oct. 25, American Airlines is completely overhauling how AAdvantage members will achieve elite status next year and beyond. Various elite-qualifying metrics such as miles, segments, and dollars will fade into the past. Instead, the main metric going forward will be “Loyalty Points.”
TPG’s Zach Griff detailed many of the changes in-depth, but flying will be only one of several ways to earn Loyalty Points with American, 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, to a certain extent. But it’s been rather limited.
Starting next year, though, spending on a wide range of the airline’s cobranded credit cards could get you all the way 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 credit cards.
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Qualify for status with credit card spending in 2022
Loyalty Points required for status
Beginning in 2022, this is how many Loyalty Points you’ll need to earn status at each tier.
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:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®.
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.
- AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.
- American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card.
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 issuer.
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 are excluded from earning Loyalty Points.
It’s pretty simple to see how you can earn status from spending alone — or a combination of credit card spending, flying and/or 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).
Bonuses for select AAdvantage cards
Select AAdvantage 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.
AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard cardmembers: Between Jan. 1, 2022, and Feb. 28, 2023, spend $20,000 in eligible purchases and cardholders 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.
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. However, your Loyalty Points from card spending won’t appear on your AAdvantage account until March 2022.
Speaking of which, 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. That’s good news for those making a push for status late in the year. 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, which could in turn, help boost your Loyalty Points in 2022.
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.
What about requalifying for 2021?
First things first: Requalifying for status this year (for the 2022 status year) isn’t changing. The Loyalty Points system within the AAdvantage program doesn’t kick in until next year.
For 2021, American Airlines has two pathways to requalify for AAdvantage elite status. So, on top of reduced qualification requirements, existing American Airlines AAdvantage elites can also requalify by spending $15,000 on an AAdvantage cobranded credit card through Nov. 15, or earning 2,000 elite-qualifying dollars through Dec. 31.
If you want to take either of these pathways to requalify, you don’t need to register. Simply spend $15,000 on your card or earn 2,000 EQDs — either within the specified time frame — to get your status extended.
However, you can only use the two pathways for easy requalification if you held elite status with American Airlines on Jan. 1, 2021. As such, members who snagged status through limited-time status challenges and new elite members aren’t eligible. Further, there is no way to earn elite status or upgrade your status tier with this promotion.
Also, note that Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members who requalify through one of these two pathways for easy requalification aren’t eligible for Elite Choice Rewards (soon to be called “Loyalty Choice Rewards”). You must earn status the “old-fashioned” way in 2021 to unlock these perks. Thankfully, American is offering lower elite-qualification requirements this year in response to the pandemic, so that might not be too hard.
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. While many elite flyers will probably use some combination of credit card spending and traditional flying to hit their tier of choice, remember that, in order to fully enjoy the rarefied benefits of Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status, you’re still going to have to do some flying.
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.
Featured photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock.com.
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