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American Airlines plans to make sweeping changes to its AAdvantage loyalty program next year. When the changes go into effect in March 2023, it’s going to be tougher to earn American Airlines Gold elite status.
As a small consolation, the airline is adding a milestone reward for flyers who haven’t earned elite status yet, similar to JetBlue’s new Perks You Pick.
These changes are to be expected as American makes further tweaks to its loyalty program, which underwent a major overhaul and introduced Loyalty Points in 2022. Rather than earn elite status based on miles flown, American made it possible to earn American Airlines Loyalty Points without even setting foot on an airplane — but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here are the biggest changes coming to the American Airlines AAdvantage loyalty program in 2023.
Tougher Gold elite status requirements
Inflation and higher priced airfares sadly don’t mean a faster route to elite status. Just as airfares have mostly increased, American has also increased the number of loyalty points needed to earn its Gold tier of elite status by 33%.
Happily, though, the higher tiers won’t change. Here are the new thresholds:
Aadvantage Status tier
Previous Loyalty Points needed
New Loyalty Points needed
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
New Loyalty Point Rewards
American Airlines currently lets its members select a Loyalty Choice Reward like Admirals Club day passes or bonus AAdvantage miles when they reach Platinum Pro status.
The rewards were first called “elite choice rewards,” but American renamed them as “Loyalty Choice Rewards” as part of its October 2021 program update announcement. The naming committee at American Airlines has some commitment issues, as the name has once again changed, this time to “Loyalty Point Rewards.”
And with the fresh name comes easier opportunities to earn such rewards.
Now, you only need to earn 15,000 Loyalty Points to unlock your first reward, which has been renamed Loyalty Point Rewards. That means you can earn some small recognition for your loyalty, even before you’ve reached AAdvantage Gold status.
For reaching 15,000 Loyalty Points, you’ll receive Group 5 boarding for the membership year and the choice between either:
1. Priority check-in, security and Group 4 boarding for one trip; or
2. Five preferred seat coupons.
American also revealed new Loyalty Point benefits that come as bonus goodies when you’re between tiers of elite status. That’s good for someone with Gold status who might not earn the 75,000 points needed for Platinum status. For example, with 60,000 points, you’ll get Avis Preferred Plus elite status and a 20% Loyalty Point bonus when shopping with select American Airlines partners.
The rewards get even better for folks who exceed the 200,000 Loyalty Points needed to earn Executive Platinum status. For example, once you’ve blown past Executive Platinum status and earned 550,000 points, you’ll get to pick two rewards from options including:
The new milestone rewards continue up to the 5 million Loyalty Points. Consider that encouragement to not stop earning points, even when you’re seemingly on top.
» Learn more: Is an American Airlines credit card worth it?
More earning opportunities for big spenders, and fewer for the cheap ones
Most of the American Airlines changes are better for people who already spend a lot with the airline and earn Platinum status or above.
In more good news for ultra-big spenders, American is removing the previous 75,000 limit on miles that a member could earn on a single ticket.
Because miles for flights are earned based on a combination of ticket price and status tier, sometimes the most elite members who booked expensive airfares were capped at the number of miles they could earn on one flight.
In more bad news for budget travelers, AAdvantage members will now earn just 2 miles per dollar spent on basic economy fares for all tickets issued on or after Jan. 1, 2023, for travel starting March 1, 2023. Tickets purchased and used prior to that earned a higher minimum of 5 miles for every U.S. dollar.
No AAnytime or Saver awards
American Airlines is also getting rid of two types of award flights: AAnytime and Saver awards. These static awards were two of the most affordable fares listed on American's award chart, which made it easy for AAdvantage members to estimate how many miles they would need to book.
Instead, American is moving to fully dynamic pricing for its award flights. The cheapest option will now be Web Specials.
The partner award chart is staying, so flyers booking partner flights with AAdvantage miles will still see static pricing.
Elite status is getting harder to earn across many airlines
American Airlines is hardly the only airline making it tough to earn elite status as of late. Delta, JetBlue and United have also made adjustments to their loyalty programs for 2023 — especially when it comes to qualification requirements.
And still, Alaska Airlines remains the best elite status program for flyers, according to NerdWallet analysis.
(Top photo courtesy of American Airlines)
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card