Are you new to flying American Airlines? In most cases, you’ll need to pay your dues by taking plenty of trips before you could join the ranks of those with elite status in the American AAdvantage frequent flyer program. But thankfully, there are two shortcuts that you can use to avoid spending months at the back of the plane while you earn your elite status:
1. The elite status challenge program
In some ways elite status doesn’t make sense. An airline wants to earn the business of frequent travelers, but it won’t give them any special perks until they’ve flown with it for at least 25,000 miles. But to give travelers an incentive to switch to American, it has two unpublished offers that represent a fast track to elite status. You can accept a challenge to receive AAdvantage Gold status by earning 7,000 elite qualifying miles (EQMS) within 90 days and paying a $120 fee. Or, you can obtain a challenge to receive AAdvantage Platinum status by earning 12,500 EQMs in 90 days and paying a $200 fee.
To qualify, you must earn EQMs by flying on American, Finnair, British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, or Qantas. When flying on American, you earn one EQM for each mile flown on most economy class fares, with 2x for many discounted business and first class fares, and as much as 3x for full fare business and first class tickets. When flying on one of the eligible partners, the EQMs you earn will be based on your fare class and can be less than one EQM per mile flown on discount tickets.
To sign up for one of these offers, you can contact American Airlines at 888-697-5636.
2. Earning EQMs through a credit card
American Airlines offers several credit cards that earn AAdvantage miles, but only one card is offered to new applicants that allows you to earn EQMs toward elite status. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 10,000 EQMs each calendar year when you spend $40,000 (unfortunately, these 10,000 EQMs don’t count toward the elite status challenges above). Other cardholder benefits include an Admirals Club lounge membership for not just the primary cardholder, but for all authorized cardholders as well. Furthermore, you can bring your immediate family members or up to two guests into an Admirals Club lounge with you.
As a cardholder, you also receive priority check-in, security screening and boarding as well as a free checked bag for yourself and up to eight others traveling on the same itinerary. Citi will even reimburse you for the $100 Global Entry application fee or the $85 TSA PreCheck application fee. This card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 within three years of account opening, enough for two roundtrip economy class tickets within the continental US or Canada. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.
Holding elite status in the American Airlines AAdvantage program means better service, better seating, first class upgrades, and bonus miles. By obtaining and completing an elite status challenge and earning additional EQMs through the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard, you can ensure that you have the best possible experience every time you fly American Airlines.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.