See how much it will cost you to boost your American elite status for 2021

Nov 12, 2020

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Although the pursuit of elite status can be illogical, having a particular status level can be worthwhile and beneficial for some travelers. Earlier this year, American Airlines announced that it would grant another year of status to all AAdvantage elites. So, your 2020 AAdvantage status will be valid through Jan. 31, 2022.

But, American Airlines also reduced elite qualification requirements for flyers looking to earn AAdvantage status in 2020. As a result, some flyers decided to work toward achieving a higher status in 2020. Now, if you’ve fallen a bit short of your goal, American Airlines might have an elite status offer for you.

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Check your offer

To see your offer, head to the elite status offer page on American’s site and enter your AAdvantage account information.

See your 2021 American Airlines elite status offer
(Image courtesy of American Airlines)

The offers are unique for each American Airlines AAdvantage member based on:

  • Current AAdvantage elite status level
  • Travel with American
  • Elite-qualifying progress made so far in 2020
  • Other account and transaction-related activity

The offer page lets you know how much you’ll have to pay to lock in status through Jan. 31, 2022. Some AAdvantage members with an offer have reported being able to pay using AAdvantage miles, cash or a combination of miles and money. However, note that your offer may change without notice from time to time.

Related: American reveals elite status changes and exciting loyalty updates

What types of offers are available?

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I don’t have an offer this year since I already qualified for Executive Platinum status. Many travelers may not have an offer since American Airlines granted another year of status to all AAdvantage elites earlier this year.

No TPG staffers reported getting an offer this year. But, readers in the TPG Lounge Facebook group reported seeing the following offers:

  • $1,115 or 111,500 miles for Gold: Currently needs 421 more EQDs
  • $1,195 or 119,500 miles for Platinum: Currently needs 8,176 more EQMs or 26 more EQSs
  • $1,195 or 119,500 miles for Platinum: Currently needs 7,342 more EQMs or 18 more EQSs
  • $1,645 or 164,500 miles for Platinum: Currently needs $3,000 more EQDs
  • $2,335 or 233,500 miles for Platinum: Currently needs 1,500 more EQDs and 1,500 more EQMs or 19 more EQSs
  • $1,395 or 139,500 miles for Executive Platinum: Currently needs 7,900 more EQMs but has trips booked that will earn these EQMs before year-end

These offers value American Airlines miles at one cent each, which is less than TPG’s valuation of 1.4 cents each. However, last year some AAdvantage members were given different rates for their miles. So, don’t assume that your offer will value AAdvantage miles at one cent each.

Some of these offers are really poor. For example, the reader who could pay $1,115 or 111,500 miles to earn Gold status could undoubtedly book a trip for less that would earn 421 EQDs. Of course, some travelers aren’t willing or able to travel yet due to coronavirus concerns.

If you’ve already qualified for Executive Platinum status, or American Airlines doesn’t want to provide you an offer at this time, you’ll see the following:

No offers available
(Image courtesy of American Airlines)

Related: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

Is the offer worth it?

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect travel, paying to secure a higher elite status usually won’t be worth it. I recommend considering the benefits provided by the status and how much you’ll be flying with American and Oneworld partners in 2021 before accepting an offer.

Your offer is based on your current progress toward earning elite status. So, if you have upcoming travel planned before the end of the year, you’ll want to recheck your offer once you’ve completed this travel and the miles have posted. You might find that you’re given a less expensive offer once you’re closer to to the qualification threshold.

If you’re set on earning a higher level of status in 2020, it may be cheaper (and more fun) to take a mileage run. After all, many AAdvantage members may be able to take a trip for less than the cost of their offer. Granted, many of the most lucrative mileage run options aren’t currently advisable due to border closures and travel restrictions.

There are plenty of other reasons why mileage runs are a bad idea, but there are also some arguments for doing a mileage run. For example, elite-qualifying flights flown from Oct. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 will count toward earning status in both 2020 and 2021.

Finally, if you get a reasonable offer that you want to accept, it’s worth deciding whether to pay with cash, miles or a combination of the two. If you have more miles than you can use, you may want to pay with miles. But generally, you’ll get better value redeeming AAdvantage miles for award flights. Plus, if you spend money to qualify through this offer, you’ll earn elite-qualifying dollars that will help improve your upgrade priority.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Bottom line

Most travelers likely aren’t in a position where paying to secure American Airlines elite status through Jan. 31, 2022 makes sense. And, the asking price on some offers is absurdly high. But, if you flew enough in 2020 to almost secure elite status under the reduced qualification requirements, it may be worth accepting an offer.

In the end, if you might be willing to pay for a higher American Airlines elite status, it’s worth checking your offer periodically. You’ll likely get the best offer once you’ve finished your travel on American Airlines for the year.

Finally, remember that some cobranded American Airlines credit cards can help you earn airline elite status. For example, you can earn 10,000 EQMs after you spend $40,000 on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® during a calendar year. These extra EQMs may provide just the elite status boost you need.

Featured photo of business class on American Airlines’ 787-9 by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $700. In addition, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. As of July 23, 2017 this is the only card that offers Admirals Club lounge access so if you are an AA flyer this card might make sense for you.  Aside from lounge access the primary cardholder will receive a Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years, first checked bag free for up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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