Earning American Airlines AAdvantage elite status typically requires flying tens of thousands of miles (thus earning Elite Qualifying Miles) and spending thousands of dollars on airfares (earning Elite Qualifying Dollars). But, for this year only, American is giving a reprieve from the latter of these requirements. AAdvantage members can earn an EQD waiver on American Airlines by spending $30,000 on co-branded credit cards in 2021.
However, not all tiers of AAdvantage elite status are eligible for the EQD waiver, and there are other important limitations to keep in mind. So, we'll show you how the EQD waiver on American Airlines works, plus what you need to know about earning one.
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While there aren't many limitations on this American Airlines EQD waiver, it's important to pay attention to the few restrictions on this opportunity that do exist.
No waiver for Executive Platinum status
American Airlines will waive the EQD requirement for AAdvantage Platinum Pro, Platinum or Gold elite status holders. However, you won't be able to get an EQD waiver for Executive Platinum elite status — the highest tier — regardless of how much spending you put on an American Airlines credit card.
Limited to the primary cardholder
Many American Airlines co-branded credit cards allow cardholders to add authorized users. Any purchases made by authorized users will count toward the EQD waiver but only for the primary cardholder. Authorized users are not able to spend toward their own EQD waiver.
Spending must post to your account by Dec. 31, 2021
In order to qualify, your purchases need to post to your credit card account by Dec. 31, 2021. Be aware that some purchases may take a few days to post, such as online purchases, which may not charge your account until shipping. Try not to cut it close at the end of the year.
When determining how much you have spent toward the $30,000 goal, don't just add up all of the charges to your account. Only certain types of transactions are eligible for the EQD waiver.
Ineligible transactions include:
Checks that access your credit card account.
Items and services returned for credit.
Interest and account fees.
Purchases of foreign currency.
Wire transfers (and similar cash-like transactions).
Gaming chips (and similar betting transactions).
» Learn more: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles
Credit cards eligible for the EQD waiver on American Airlines
The good news is that all Citi/AAdvantage and all AAdvantage Aviator credit cards are eligible for spending toward the American Airlines' EQD waiver.
Even better, you don't have to spend all $30,000 on one card. You can combine spending across multiple American Airlines co-branded credit cards to reach the $30,000 threshold. That means you can spend on AAdvantage credit cards you already have, as well as spend on new credit cards that you sign up for during this year.
If you want to double-dip on your spending — working both toward the EQD waiver and a sign-up bonus — here are some of the American Airlines credit cards offering one:
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee in full within the first 90 days.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®: Earn up to 75,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles: Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Earn 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card.
How to get even more perks while earning the EQD waiver
If you're planning to spend your way to the EQD waiver, you might as well score other American Airlines perks along the way. Depending on which cards you have, you can earn Elite Qualifying Miles, a flight discount or even a companion certificate.
Earn Elite Qualifying Miles
To earn AAdvantage elite status, you need to earn either a set number of EQMs or Elite Qualifying Segments in addition to the EQD waiver. There are two AAdvantage co-branded credit cards that can get you a jump-start on your EQM earnings.
You can earn up to 10,000 EQMs by spending on the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®. Earn 5,000 EQMs for making $20,000 in qualifying purchases in a calendar year. Then, earn another 5,000 EQMs once you spend another $20,000 in purchases.
Also, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® customers can earn 10,000 EQMs after spending $40,000 in purchases within a calendar year.
Earn a flight discount on American Airlines
If you're looking to get a discount on future travels, you might want to focus your spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. Cardholders can earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount by spending $20,000 in purchases in a cardmember year.
Spend your way to companion certificates
If you plan to take an expensive domestic economy trip on American Airlines with a companion, you might want to focus your spending on one of two Barclays credit cards that offer cardholders the ability to earn an American Airlines Companion Certificate.
The first is the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®. If you spend $20,000 in purchases in your cardholder year, you'll earn a companion certificate good on domestic economy American Airlines flights. You can bring up to two companions with you on a paid flight for a fare of just $99, plus taxes and fees.
Or, if you have a small business, you can earn one companion certificate by spending $30,000 in a cardholder year on a AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®. This version of the companion certificate is only valid for one companion on domestic economy flights, and the fare is also $99 plus taxes and fees.
» Learn more: Your guide to the American Airlines award chart
The bottom line
As travel begins to recover this year, American Airlines flyers may find it hard to earn enough EQDs through flying. Thankfully, potential AAdvantage elites have a golden opportunity to spend toward an EQD waiver in 2021.
Unfortunately for aspiring Executive Platinum elites, this opportunity is limited to Platinum Pro, Platinum and Gold elite status. However, you can spend on any Citi or Barclays credit card — potentially earning sign-up bonuses and other perks as your spending reaps additional benefits.
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:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card