American Airlines elite status benefits

A few credit cards allow you to earn valuable elite benefits on American Airlines faster

AAdvantage elite status benefits

#

Joining the American AAdvantage program is the best way to earn miles for free flights nearly anywhere. You can unlock even more perks if you pool your loyalty with American Airlines and earn elite status. The American AAdvantage program offers an array of valuable benefits you can get for free as an elite status member including – but not limited to – complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, priority boarding and lounge access.

While you can earn elite status with American just for flying with the airline or its partners, a handful of cobranded American Airlines credit cards can help you reach elite status faster. Before we dive into those details, however, let’s go over the tiers of status with the American AAdvantage program and what it takes to reach them.

American Airlines elite status tiers

Gold
Platinum Platinum Pro Executive Platinum

How to qualify

25,000 EQMs and $3,000 EQDs

or

30 EQSs and $3,000 EQDs

How to qualify

50,000 EQMs and $6,000 EQDs

or

60 EQSs and $6,000 EQDs

How to qualify

75,000 EQMs and $9,000 EQDs

or

90 EQSs and $9,000 EQDs

How to qualify

100,000 EQMs and $12,000 EQDs

or

120 EQSs and $12,000 EQDs

Base-point rate

7 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

8 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

9 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

11 miles/dollar

Benefits

  • Complimentary automatic upgrades on flights 500 miles or less based on availability
  • 24-hour upgrade window
  • 50% off main cabin extra seats
  • Complimentary preferred seats
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership

Benefits

  • Complimentary automatic upgrades on flights 500 miles or less based on availability
  • 48-hour upgrade window
  • Complimentary main cabin extra and preferred seats
  • 2 free checked bags
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership
  • Complimentary lounge access with American on qualifying international flights and with oneworld partners

Benefits

  • Complimentary automatic upgrades
  • 72-hour upgrade window
  • Complimentary main cabin extra and preferred seats
  • 2 free checked bags
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership
  • Complimentary lounge access with American on qualifying international flights and with oneworld partners

Benefits

  • 4 one-way systemwide upgrades (with the ability to earn 4 more per year)
  • Complimentary automatic upgrades
  • 100-hour upgrade window
  • Complimentary main cabin extra and preferred seats
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership
  • Complimentary lounge access with American on qualifying international flights and with oneworld partners

Qualifying for elite status with the American AAdvantage program

There is no single requirement you can meet to earn status with the American AAdvantage program; you must meet at least two requirements within a single calendar year. You need to collect a combination of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQDs) and either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) to meet the threshold for a status upgrade. In case you’re foggy on the difference between a Qualifying Segment, Mile and Dollar, here are the definitions for you:

  • Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs): EQMs are calculated on the miles flown based on the airline and the booking code used for the flight.
  • Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs): EQSs are calculated on the number of segments flown with American or its partners.
  • Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs): EQDs are based on the ticked price of purchased American Airlines flights and flights marketed through the airline.

As an example, to qualify for Gold status, you would need to spend $3,000 on American Airlines flights plus fly either 30 qualifying segments or 25,000 qualifying miles within a year.

Shortcuts to American elite status

  • Get a cobranded American AAdvantage credit card – Unfortunately, you cannot earn elite status with the American AAdvantage program just by signing up for a cobranded airline credit card. However, several American cards can help you reach elite status faster. Options include:
    • AAdvantage AviatorRed and Aviator Business MasterCard accounts can earn up to $3,000 in EQDs by spending $25,000 on qualifying net purchases during the calendar year. This can help you reach your EQD requirement significantly faster.
    • The AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard (which is not accepting applications) offers 5,000 EQMs for every $20,000 you spend annually. You can also earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 within a year and another $3,000 in EQDs after spending $50,000.
    • The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers 10,000 EQMs every time you spend $40,000 on your card within a calendar year.
  • Elevate your status – If you have elite status with the American AAdvantage program already, you can elevate your status via the American Airlines website, provided a promotion is currently running and you qualify for it. While offers vary, you are typically asked to pay a hefty fee to upgrade to the next tier of status, such as $1,195 to boost your status from Gold to Platinum.
  • Sign your company up for Business Extra –The American AAdvantage program offers a special program for businesses called Business Extra. This program allows businesses to earn a separate type of rewards – Business Extra points – for each dollar they spend with the airline. Businesses can cash in their points to pay for upgrades, AAdvantage Gold status for employees or even Admirals Club memberships.

Is American AAdvantage elite status worth it?

If you fly with American Airlines or their partners frequently enough, it may be well worth it to focus on earning status this year. Doing so can help you pool your miles with one airline for more free flights, but it can also help you secure important perks that can make travel more affordable or convenient.

Before you focus on earning elite status with the American AAdvantage program, consider whether these perks are important to you:

  • Free checked bags – Depending on your status level, you can qualify for one to three free checked bags per flight. Since checked bags typically start at $25, this perk is worth $50 or more per person per round-trip flight.
  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades (based on availability) – Having elite status with the American AAdvantage program helps you score free automatic upgrades on flights with the airline. If you have AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status, however, free upgrades are only available on flights of 500 miles or less.
  • Elite mileage bonus – Each tier of status with the American AAdvantage program lets you earn more miles per dollar that you spend with the airline and its partners.
  • Priority check-in at the airport – Skip the long lines at the airport and dash through the priority check-in line instead.
  • Priority baggage delivery – American Airlines will place Priority tags on your bags so that they are the first delivered to the baggage claim area, to save you from waiting forever for your bags to show up.
  • Same-day standby and same-day flight changes – All four tiers of elite status offer free same-day standby, which allows you to change to standby on another flight in case your plans change at the last minute. Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum offer free same-day flight changes as well.
  • Award processing charge waived – Having elite status with the American AAdvantage program means having all award processing charges waived.
  • Elite status with partner airlines – Elite status with the American AAdvantage program translates over to oneworld partners. This means you’ll receive many of your elite status perks when you fly with American’s partner airlines.
  • Discounted Admirals Club membership – Elite members at all levels qualify for a discount on Admiral Club membership – which gives you unlimited access to Admiral Club lounges.
  • Complimentary lounge access on American Airlines and oneworld partners – Without purchasing an Admirals Club membership, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members are eligible for free Admirals Club access on qualifying international routes. They also receive free lounge access on American’s oneworld partner airlines.

We would note that a few of these perks – including free checked bags and Admiral Club access – are also available through the AAdvantage Executive Elite Mastercard. While it takes a rigorous amount of spending and flying with American Airlines to earn elite status, the Executive Elite Mastercard only requires you to pay a $450 annual fee. If you want to qualify for airline perks with less flying required, applying for the Executive Mastercard could be a good option.

See Related: What are American Airlines miles worth?, Which American Airlines credit card is best for you?, Best ways to earn AAdvantage miles, Best ways to redeem AAdvantage miles, American Airlines partners, Admirals Club membership, Booking a flight with AAdvantage miles


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.


Updated: 09-23-2018