Recently, American Airlines revamped how you’ll qualify for elite status within the program, and one of the biggest changes was the added option to earn Loyalty Points through credit card spending. Starting in 2022, it will now be entirely possible for you to earn American Airlines elite status exclusively through credit card spending.
But does it make sense to do so? Let’s find out!
American Airlines Elite Qualifying Levels
First things first, we have to run through what it will take to qualify for each level of American AAdvantage status moving forward.
Here’s how many Loyalty Points you’ll need to earn to each level of elite status as of 2022:
Hot Tip: If you need a refresher, here is a look at the benefits you receive at each level of American AAdvantage status.
Credit Cards That Earn Loyalty Points
Every co-branded American Airlines card from both Barclays and Citi earns Loyalty Points, including business cards. Here is the full list:
Hot Tip: If you’re not sure which card is right for you, here is a look at the best American Airlines-branded cards.
How Many Loyalty Points Do You Earn From Credit Card Spend?
With each co-branded American Airlines card, you’ll earn 1x Loyalty Point for every $1 spent, with the exception of the AAdvantage Aviator card that earns just 1x Loyalty Point for every $2 spent.
This means you’d need to spend $30,000 on your card in order to achieve Gold status, $75,000 to achieve Platinum status, $125,000 to achieve Platinum Pro status, and a whopping $200,000 in order to reach top-tier Executive Platinum status.
Running the Numbers
Assuming your goal is to reach top-tier Executive Platinum elite status, you’re going to need to spend $200,000 on one or more American Airlines credit cards. In order to determine if it makes sense for you to do so, we need some points of comparison. In other words, could you spend that money on another card and receive more value?
|American Airlines Cards||Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card|
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Citi® Double Cash Card ||Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||The World of Hyatt Credit Card|
|Amount of Spend||$200,000||$200,000||$200,000||$200,000||$200,000||$200,000||$200,000|
|Non-Bonused Points Earned per $1||1x||2x||1.5x||2x||2.625% cash-back*||1x||1x|
|Value of Points Earned (Based on Our Valuations) ||$2,800||$7,200||$6,000||$4,000 in cash-back||$5,250 in cash-back||$2,600||$3,000|
|Elite Status Earned||Executive Platinum Status||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Southwest Companion Pass (reached after 125,000 qualifying points)||Hyatt Globalist status (reached after $140,000 spend)|
|Other Benefits Earned||Companion Certificate on select AA cards||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Category 1-4 Free Night Award|
*Requires Platinum Honors status in the Bank of American Preferred Rewards program ($100,000 in deposits)
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the comparable options but should serve as a guide to help you realize what you could get by putting that spend needed to reach Executive Platinum status elsewhere.
Is It Worth It?
Well, the answer to that question is going to depend almost entirely on how much you value American Airlines Executive Platinum status.
One important assumption here is that it might take you most of the entire year to hit the $200,000 in spend threshold, and because of that you’ll have to make trade-offs. If you’re a business owner that has high 5-figure to low 6-figure monthly expenses, then you could reasonably afford to spend your way to American status without forgoing many other options. But for the rest of us, sacrifices have to be made.
Let’s run through a few of our examples here:
AAdvantage Status vs. Capital One Miles
Since we value the 400,000 Capital One miles you’ll earn at $7,200, and the 200,000 American miles you’ll earn at $2,800, you have a net difference of $4,400. If you don’t value American Executive Platinum status more than $4,400, then you’d be better of putting that spend on one of the Venture cards.
AAdvantage Status vs. Cash-back
At the low end, you could earn $4,000 in cash-back for $200,000 in spending using a card like the Double Cash card. However, you could boost that up to $5,250 if you’re a Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards member with Bank of America.
After deducting the $2,800 in value you’ll receive from the American miles you’ll earn, that is a net difference of $1,200 at the low end and $2,450 at the high end. Now keep in mind that these aren’t the perceived value of miles, this is cold hard cash.
Think of it this way — if someone gave you the option to purchase Executive Platinum status for $1,200, would you say “yes?” Would you purchase it for $2,450? If the answer is “no,” then you’d be better off opting for the cash-back.
AAdvantage Status vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards
Putting that $200,000 in spending on the Freedom Unlimited card would earn you 300,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which we value at $6,000, assuming you’re able to pair it with a card that provides access to transfer partners like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
With that, unless you value American Executive Platinum status more than $3,200 ($6,000 minus the $2,800 value of the American miles you’d earn), then you’d be better off putting this spend on the Freedom Unlimited card.
AAdvantage Status vs. World of Hyatt Status
What if you put that spend on the fan-favorite World of Hyatt card instead? Our valuation of the points you’ll earn is quite close ($2,800 vs. $3,000), but after hitting $140,000 in spend, you’d reach Hyatt Globalist status and you’d receive a free Category 1-4 certificate for spending $15,000 on the card.
Assuming you had to choose between one or the other, would you rather have American Executive Platinum status or Hyatt Globalist status?
AAdvantage Status vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards Status
If you’re an American flyer this may feel like a ridiculous example, but assuming you live near an airport that offers plenty of nonstops for both American and Southwest flights, it could be a worthwhile comparison.
After all, after $125,000 in spend, you would receive the Southwest Companion Pass that allows you to bring a companion for free on all paid and award flights with Southwest. If you’re someone that does the majority of your traveling with a significant other, there is a good argument to be made that you’d get significantly more value out of the Southwest Companion Pass than you would from American Executive Platinum status.
Bonus: AAdvantage Status vs. Hitting Sign-up Bonuses
Just for fun, here is a bonus comparison where instead of putting $200,000 in spend on one card or another, imagine instead that you used some of that spend to hit the sign-up bonus across multiple cards.
Assuming the average minimum spend requirement for a sign-up bonus is $4,000, $200,000 would equate to 50 card sign-up bonuses throughout the year. This is, of course, a completely ridiculous expectation, as just about anyone would have a near-impossible time getting approved for 50 new cards over the course of a year.
A much more reasonable expectation would be 12 new cards throughout the year, or 1 new card per month. Assuming that the average value per welcome bonus was at a conservative $800, that would add up to $9,600 in value for those bonuses throughout the year.
Ultimately, it makes little to no sense to spend your way to American Airlines status if you aren’t already flying with American Airlines quite often. Otherwise, you’ll be getting hardly any value at all out of the benefits.
Chances are, if you’re someone who values elite status with American, then you probably are already flying the airline fairly often. Given that, it makes the most sense to spend your way towards status as a supplement to the Loyalty Points you’re already earning through flying, without relying on credit cards alone to get you there.
The information regarding the AAdvantage® Aviator® Blue Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold Mastercard®, Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, Capital One Venture X card, Capital One Venture Rewards card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.