The Guide to AAdvantage Gold Elite Status

There's only one route to AAdvantage Gold status, but the perks are worth it once you get there.
Anya Kartashova
By Anya Kartashova 
Published
Edited by Meg Lee

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When it comes to air travel and loyalty programs, being a free agent means that you aren’t a prisoner of a single frequent-flyer scheme. However, sticking with one airline has its perks, such as potential upgrades, free checked bags and all kinds of preferential treatment at the airport.

If you fly American Airlines and are looking to pursue elite status, you might want to know what those perks are and how to get them.

The American Airlines AAdvantage program has four status tiers:

Each tier has added perks, but it all starts with AAdvantage Gold. Here’s how to get AAdvantage Gold status and the kind of benefits you can expect from being an entry-level elite member of the AAdvantage program.

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AAdvantage Gold benefits

AAdvantage Gold is the first status tier above the general loyalty program and includes the following perks:

  • Bonus earnings on rewards: AAdvantage Gold members earn 7x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines flights.

  • Complimentary preferred seats: Whether you want some extra legroom or simply prefer to avoid the middle seats, AAdvantage Gold members have access to a free seat selection that includes preferred seats.

  • Oneworld status: As an AAdvantage Gold member, you receive Oneworld Ruby status, which gets you access to business-class priority check-in lanes, preferred seating and priority on wait lists and standby lists.

  • Priority boarding: Board an American Airlines aircraft in Group 4.

  • Priority lanes: Access to priority check-in and security lanes at the airport.

  • Same-day standby priority: If you’d like to switch a flight, AAdvantage Gold members (and up to eight travel companions) have standby access to another flight 24 hours before departure time at no cost.

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades: Get upgraded to the next cabin of service on American-operated U.S. domestic routes (including Hawaii), as well as on flights from the U.S. to: Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America. One companion is eligible for an upgrade as well. Upgrades clear up to 24 hours to departure for AAdvantage Gold elites. Complimentary upgrades are now also available to AAdvantage Gold flyers on award tickets.

  • Upgrades on Alaska Airlines flights: It’s also possible to be upgraded to first class on flights operated by Alaska Airlines as early as 24 hours before departure. 

  • Waived baggage fees: Check the first bag for free on American Airlines flights.

How to get AAdvantage Gold

For better or for worse, American Airlines AAdvantage has simplified its status qualification requirements and now has only one qualification method — Loyalty Points. The more points you earn, the higher tier you reach. AAdvantage Gold status is the first elite level of the program.

Earn enough Loyalty Points

The new way to reach elite status in the AAdvantage program is by earning Loyalty Points.

You have to earn at least 40,000 Loyalty Points to qualify for AAdvantage Gold. The 12-month earning period starts on March 1 and ends on Feb. 28 (or Feb. 29 if it’s a leap year) of the following calendar year.

You’ll earn Loyalty Points with the following activities:

  • Flying American Airlines or its partners, including Oneworld carriers and non-alliance partners.

  • Spending on an AAdvantage credit card.

  • Shopping and dining with other American partners.

In other words, flying isn’t the only way to reach status in the AAdvantage program. You can earn Loyalty Points by making online purchases through the AAdvantage eShopping portal or SimplyMiles, participating in AAdvantage Dining, booking partner hotels or renting a car with eligible car rental companies.

How much is AAdvantage Gold status worth?

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best airline elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. airline loyalty programs deliver to flyers. Here's how American’s AAdvantage program did.

Elite level

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

AAdvantage Gold

$2,846.

$9,877.

29%.

AAdvantage Platinum

$7,426.

$18,519.

40%.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

$15,030.

$30,864.

49%.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

$28,894.

$49,383.

59%.

Keep in mind that these values won’t be the same for everyone. If you don’t check bags or have to compete with top-tier elites for upgrades on busy routes, you might not squeeze much juice from the AAdvantage Gold status. However, if you’re able to use all the benefits each time you fly, then the status should create more value for you.

What else do you need to know?

No status matches available

If you’ve been thinking of qualifying for the AAdvantage elite status the quick and painless way, we’ve got some bad news for you. American Airlines doesn’t offer any status-matching opportunities, meaning you have to qualify the hard way.

However, occasionally, you’ll be able to complete a status challenge and qualify for elite status with American Airlines.

Achieve Million Miler status

If you’re all in on American Airlines and reach a special milestone of flying a million miles with the airline or its partners, you’ll retain the AAdvantage Gold status tier for life. You’ll also receive 35,000 AAdvantage miles as a bonus for becoming a million miler.

How long does AAdvantage Gold status last?

Once you qualify for this elite level, you’ll be an AAdvantage Gold until March 31 of the following qualification year.

For example, if you earn the necessary 40,000 Loyalty Points and reach AAdvantage Gold on Sept. 13, 2023, you’ll continue holding the same status level until March 31, 2024, unless you qualify for a higher tier during that time.

AAdvantage Gold recapped

There’s only one way to qualify for status with American Airlines — you must earn at least 40,000 Loyalty Points.

As an AAdvantage Gold member, you can take advantage of several entry-level benefits when flying American and other Oneworld partners, including free checked bags, bonus earnings on redeemable miles, access to preferred seats, and unlimited complimentary upgrades on select routes.

(Top photo courtesy of American Airlines)


How to maximize your rewards

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Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

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4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

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Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
4.6
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x

Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

100,000

For a limited time, earn 100,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $10,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

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Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

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