American Airlines Revolutionizes How You Earn AAdvantage Elite Status

Long gone are the days of “a mile flown is a mile earned” when you fly a U.S. airline. For the past several years, elite status has been earned mostly based on the amount you pay for your ticket (thus earning you more elite points) rather than the miles you fly. But now, American Airlines is taking its elite status in an entirely different direction that boils down to: “A mile earned is a Loyalty Point earned.” Let us explain.

Starting in 2022, American is abandoning its multifaceted elite status requirements for a somewhat simple — but revolutionary — way of earning elite status: Loyalty Points.

New way to earn AAdvantage elite status: Loyalty Points

Starting Jan. 1, American Airlines will eliminate elite qualifying miles, elite qualifying dollars and elite qualifying segments. Instead, earning elite status comes down to just one aspect: Loyalty Points.

Unlike EQMs, EQDs and EQSs, you won’t need to reference earning charts and a map to calculate Loyalty Points. Instead, you simply earn 1 Loyalty Point for almost any AAdvantage mile you earn. Note there are some key exceptions to that general rule that we cover below.

New AAdvantage elite status requirements and timing

To earn AAdvantage elite status in 2022, you’ll need to earn:

  • 30,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Gold.

  • 75,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Platinum.

  • 125,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Platinum Pro.

  • 200,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Executive Platinum.

Changes to AAdvantage elite qualification period and membership year

American Airlines is also changing the time period for earning elite status. Rather than being based on a calendar year, your AAdvantage elite status will be based on your elite earnings from March 1 to Feb. 28 of the following year.

American Airlines is also changing the elite status membership period. Starting now, AAdvantage elite status is valid through March 31 of the following year — instead of Jan. 31 of the following year. So if you’ve already earned AAdvantage elite status in 2021 (for 2022), you’ll get to enjoy that status through March 31, 2023, under the new rules.

To transition to this new earning year, American Airlines is extending all current elite status through March 31, 2022. Also as part of this transition, AAdvantage members will get a 14-month elite earning period from Jan. 1, 2022, to Feb. 28, 2023.

There’s also good news if you’re struggling to qualify for AAdvantage elite status in 2021. American Airlines is extending the 2021 elite status earning period through Feb. 28, 2022. That means that any elite qualifying miles, dollars and segments that you earn in January or February 2022 will count toward your 2021 AAdvantage elite status progress (your earning will also count toward the 2022 qualification period, meaning you will be allowed to double-dip your earnings).

Earning Loyalty Choice Rewards

In 2021, AAdvantage members earn Elite Choice Rewards when reaching Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elite status. Starting in March 2022, American Airlines is rebranding these elite status perks as Loyalty Choice Rewards and changing how they are earned.

Instead of just being tied to when you earn elite status, you’ll need to fly a minimum of 30 flights on American Airlines or its partners to earn Loyalty Choice Rewards. Once you do, you’ll unlock benefits upon reaching five different reward levels:

  • 125,000 Loyalty Points — the Platinum Pro elite status requirement.

  • 200,000 Loyalty Points — the Executive Platinum elite status requirement.

  • 350,000 Loyalty Points.

  • 550,000 Loyalty Points.

  • 750,000 Loyalty Points.

Perks will include bonus AAdvantage miles, systemwide upgrades and Admirals Club memberships. American says that it will “share more details in the future” on exactly how Loyalty Choice Rewards will work.

Earning AAdvantage Loyalty Points through flying

As with any good frequent flyer program, you’ll earn elite status credits when flying. However, how you earn Loyalty Points depends on whether you book your flights through American Airlines or one of its partners.

Loyalty points when booking through American Airlines

AAdvantage members will earn 5 Loyalty Points for every dollar spent on American Airlines airfare (excluding taxes and government fees). If that sounds familiar, that’s because you currently earn a base of 5 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on American Airlines airfare.

Importantly, American Airlines basic economy flights will also earn Loyalty Points. Under the current system, basic economy flights don’t earn elite qualifying miles, dollars or segments.

Elite members will earn Loyalty Points even faster. That’s because the bonus miles that AAdvantage elites earn will now count as Loyalty Points. After factoring in this elite bonus, you’ll effectively earn the following rates when booking American Airlines airfare:

  • General member: 5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent.

  • Gold elite: 7 Loyalty Points per dollar spent.

  • Platinum elite: 8 Loyalty Points per dollar spent.

  • Platinum Pro elite: 9 Loyalty Points per dollar spent.

  • Executive Platinum elite: 11 Loyalty Points per dollar spent.

Flying on partner airlines

AAdvantage members will also earn Loyalty Points when flying on partner airlines. As with flying on American Airlines, your Loyalty Point earnings are based on your AAdvantage earnings.

Currently, JetBlue is the only AAdvantage partner where you earn miles based on the amount you spend. So on JetBlue flights, you’ll earn a base of 5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent, and even more if you have AAdvantage elite status.

For flights on Oneworld partners, you’ll earn Loyalty Points based on your AAdvantage mileage earnings. These earnings typically depend on the fare class you book and the distance of the flight. As with flights on American, elite status bonus miles also count toward Loyalty Points.

Note that American Airlines specifically references that Loyalty Point-qualifying airlines include “flights marketed by American Airlines, Oneworld airlines, and JetBlue.” So it seems that AAdvantage mileage earnings on American’s other non-alliance partners (e.g., Hawaiian or Etihad) won’t qualify as Loyalty Points.

Other ways to earn AAdvantage Loyalty Points

With a few exceptions, you previously couldn’t earn AAdvantage elite status through anything other than flying. That’s about to change rather dramatically. Just like with earning Loyalty Points through flying, you’ll also earn Loyalty Points when you earn AAdvantage miles through credit cards and through AAdvantage partners.

Earning Loyalty Points through American Airlines credit cards

You’ll generally earn 1 Loyalty Point for every dollar spent on an American Airlines co-branded credit card. This includes spending on all Citi/AAdvantage cards, all Barclays Aviator cards and all AAdvantage credit cards.

Note that some AAdvantage co-branded credit cards offer bonus miles in certain categories. For example, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card earns 2 miles per dollar spent at grocery stores. However, Loyalty Point earnings are based on the base mileage earning rate, so you won’t get Loyalty Points for that extra grocery bonus dollar. Likewise, credit card sign-up bonuses or spending bonuses also don’t qualify as Loyalty Points.

However, certain cardholders will be eligible to earn a Loyalty Point bonus starting in 2022:

  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®: Earn up to 15,000 additional Loyalty Points by spending a total of $50,000 in eligible purchases.

Earning Loyalty Points through other partners

You will also earn Loyalty Points through other types of AAdvantage-earning partners. This includes shopping through the eShopping portal or SimplyMiles, or dining through AAdvantage Dining.

However, American Airlines is “still working through the details” with some of its partners. So it’s currently unclear if AAdvantage mileage earning opportunities like Bask Bank, AA Vacations, rental car partners, AA’s Hyatt partnership or charitable donations will qualify as Loyalty Points.

What activity doesn’t earn Loyalty Points?

Generally, you earn a Loyalty Point for every AAdvantage mile earned. However, there are some key exceptions. Here are the types of activities that do not earn Loyalty Points:

  • Bonus miles earned from special promotions.

  • Buying, gifting or transferring miles.

  • Government taxes, fees and other charges associated with buying a ticket that don’t count toward earning AAdvantage miles.

  • Transferring points from another loyalty program (e.g., Marriott or Citi).

  • Bonus miles on purchases made on AAdvantage credit cards.

  • New account bonuses, welcome bonuses or spending bonuses on AAdvantage credit cards.

If you want to earn AAdvantage elite status

Starting in 2022, earning AAdvantage elite status is going to be very different from what frequent flyers are used to. Rather than worrying about flying enough miles and spending enough dollars, the focus shifts to how many qualifying AAdvantage miles you can earn through flying, credit card spending and American’s other partners.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

This post was originally published on Nerd Wallet

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