American Airlines Elite Status: What You Need to Know

Holding American elite status can help you get upgrades, free checked bags and other perks.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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American Airlines has one of the best elite status programs out there. In fact, the airline tied with Hawaiian Airlines for the silver medal in NerdWallet’s award for best airline loyalty programs of 2022. Only one airline came out slightly higher — that’s Alaska.

But Alaska is primarily an airline for West Coast travelers, while American Airlines has a much broader footprint. In fact, it’s the largest airline in North America in terms of passenger miles. Given its wide coverage, the American Airlines AAdvantage program might be the frequent flyer program of choice for many travelers.

And as a frequent flyer, American Airlines elite status is likely on your mind. After all, elite status means opportunities to earn bonus airline miles, free checked bags, upgrade opportunities and more.

There are four elite status levels in the American Airlines AAdvantage program, which are:

In this guide, you’ll learn how to earn status, what the benefits are, and whether pursuing AAdvantage status is worth it for you.

An entirely new way to earn American Airlines status as of 2022

On Dec. 15, 2022, American announced additional updates to its elite status program for 2023. See what's getting shaken up »

In January 2022, American Airlines completely revamped the way flyers earn status. In fact, you could theoretically earn status without even stepping foot on a plane.

Many airlines have complicated requirements to earn status that include a combination of flying a lot and earning a lot of qualifying points.

So what changed in American's program overhaul? Previously, passengers had to complete a certain number of flights (EQSs), spending (EQDs) and miles flown (EQMs). On top of that jumble of alphabet soup, earning status was sometimes confusing because only “qualifying points” counted toward status (while other types of points didn’t).

Things are less confusing now. Simply earn enough Loyalty Points, and you’ll be crowned with status.

However, there’s almost always a trade-off, and this situation is no different. You’ll need many more Loyalty Points to achieve status than you did in the past. But there are many ways to earn Loyalty Points, which include:

  1. Purchasing something with an American Airlines credit card.

  2. Flying with American, Oneworld or any other American Airlines partner airline.

  3. Dining, shopping and spending money with American’s partners, including AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage eShopping, SimplyMiles and others.

One eligible AAdvantage Mile earned equals one Loyalty Point.

How to earn elite status with American Airlines

American Airlines AAdvantage, like most frequent flyer programs, is free to join; you’ll just have to hand over some personal information like your name and email. So even if you only fly American occasionally, it’s almost always worth signing up.

Once you have a membership, you’ll be able to earn AAdvantage miles. Even if you’re an infrequent flier, miles can be slowly accumulated and redeemed for free flights (just don’t let them expire, which happens if you go two years without any account activity).

With enough miles (which convert to Loyalty Points), you’ll earn elite status which then unlocks perks like seat upgrades, lounge membership and more.

How many Loyalty Points do you need to earn status with American Airlines?

Here’s how many loyalty points you’ll need to get into each status tier:

Status tier

Loyalty points needed to earn

AAdvantage Gold

30,000.

AAdvantage Platinum

75,000.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

125,000.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

200,000.

We broke down each status level by its top benefits, how to earn it, and its actual value. Jump to “American Airlines elite status: is it worth it?” to find out how we calculate the value of benefits and the cost to earn elite status.

AAdvantage Gold: the best benefits, how to earn and if it’s worth it

Gold is the lowest of the elite status tiers, but it’s still useful to those who hold it. Benefits include:

  • Unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades.

  • Complimentary Preferred seats.

  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra at check-in.

  • One free checked bag.

  • Priority check-in, security and boarding.

  • Same-day standby priority.

  • AAdvantage Gold service desk access.

  • Oneworld Ruby benefits.

How to earn: Earn 30,000 Loyalty Points.

Estimated value of benefits: $2,158.

Cost to earn: $7,595.

Bonus miles earned for spending on base flight miles traveled with American or partners: 7 miles per dollar spent (a 40% bonus).

Earning rate per dollar spent on American: 28%.

AAdvantage Platinum: the best benefits, how to earn and if it’s worth it

Platinum is where your status starts to take off, as you’re now in the running for complimentary upgrades to the premium cabin.

Benefits include:

  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra.

  • Complimentary Preferred seats.

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades to the premium cabin.

  • Two free checked bags with priority handling.

  • Priority check-in, security and boarding.

  • Same-day standby priority.

  • AAdvantage Platinum service desk access.

  • Oneworld Sapphire benefits.

How to earn: Earn 75,000 Loyalty Points.

Estimated value of benefits: $7,500.

Cost to earn: $18,987.

Bonus miles earned for spending on base flight miles traveled with American or partners: 8 miles per dollar spent (a 60% bonus).

Earning rate per dollar spent on American: 40%.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro: the best benefits, how to earn and if it’s worth it

Not only does Platinum Pro get unlimited complimentary upgrades on domestic flights when available, but it’s more than likely any available upgrades will go to you. If multiple elite status holders are on the flight, then American gives it to the person with the most Loyalty Points. And since Platinum Pro is among the highest levels of elite status, that upgrade is likely to go to you.

Benefits include:

  • Unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades.

  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra.

  • Complimentary Preferred seats.

  • Three free checked bags with priority handling.

  • Priority check-in, security and boarding.

  • Free same-day flight change and standby priority.

  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro service desk access.

  • Oneworld Emerald benefits.

How to earn: Earn 125,000 Loyalty Points.

Estimated value of benefits: $15,153.

Cost to earn: $31,646.

Bonus miles earned for spending on base flight miles traveled with American or partners: 9 miles per dollar spent (an 80% bonus).

Earning rate per dollar spent on American: 48%.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum: the best benefits, how to earn and if it’s worth it

Benefits include:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades within North America (including award tickets).

  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra.

  • Complimentary Preferred seats.

  • Three free checked bags with priority handling.

  • Complimentary food and drinks in the Main Cabin.

  • Free same-day flight change and standby priority.

  • Priority check-in, security and boarding.

  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum service desk access.

  • Oneworld Emerald benefits.

How to earn: Earn 200,000 Loyalty Points.

Estimated value of benefits: $29,008.

Cost to earn: $50,633.

Bonus miles earned for spending on base flight miles traveled with American or partners: 11 miles per dollar spent (a 120% bonus).

Earning rate per dollar spent on American: 57%.

American Airlines ConciergeKey

American Airlines also has a fifth unpublished, elite status level called ConciergeKey. It’s a secret club of sorts, and there aren’t even any written guidelines on how to earn it (some say you’ll have to spend $50,000 or more on American Airlines flights to get invited to ConciergeKey).

With this ultra-fancy tier of status comes lavish privileges like membership for you and guests to Admirals Club lounges, Flagship Lounge access, a dedicated customer service line and the highest upgrade priority. There are plenty of waived fees, and rumor has it that American Airlines sends customers not only appreciation gifts like chocolates, but even invites them to an annual gathering.

Business class upgrades, lounge access, free trips and more: Other benefits for American Airlines frequent flyers

Other benefits offered to status holders include one-offs or goodies for hitting certain thresholds. Here are the best of them:

Loyalty Choice Rewards grant extra goodies like lounge passes

Those who earn AAdvantage Platinum Pro status or higher and fly at least 30 flights can start earning what’s called “Loyalty Choice Rewards.”

These are extra, one-off rewards given for reaching new thresholds of Loyalty Points. The more Loyalty Points you have, the more choices of rewards you get to pick. Here’s the breakdown:

Reward level

Loyalty Points required

Number of Loyalty Choice Reward options

1

125,000 (plus a minimum of 30 eligible flight segments).

1.

2

200,000.

2.

3

350,000.

2.

4

550,000.

2.

5

750,000.

2.

In short, people with 125,000 points get to pick one toy from an OK toy box. People with 750,000 get to pick two toys from the awesome toy box.

So what kind of rewards can you choose from at each rewards level? Here’s a complete list:

Level 1 – Choose 1

  • 1 systemwide upgrade.

  • 20,000 AAdvantage bonus miles (or even more if you hold certain American Airlines credit cards).

  • 6 Admirals Club day passes.

  • $200 American Airlines trip credit.

  • Carbon emissions offset.

  • $200 donation to your choice of one of 10 partner charities.

  • One-time 15% off award discount.

  • Gift of AAdvantage Gold status.

Level 2 – Choose 2

  • 2 systemwide upgrades (you can use two of your choices to receive four systemwide upgrades).

  • 20,000 AAdvantage bonus miles (or even more if you hold certain American Airlines credit cards), which NerdWallet values at about $240.

  • 6 Admirals Club day passes.

  • Admirals Club individual membership (though this will take both of your choices).

  • $200 American Airlines trip credit.

  • Carbon emissions offset.

  • $200 donation to your choice of one of 10 partner charities.

  • Gift of AAdvantage Gold status.

  • Choice of 1 Bang & Olufsen premium product (though this will require both of your choices).

Level 3 – Choose 2

  • 1 systemwide upgrade.

  • 25,000 AAdvantage bonus miles, which NerdWallet values at about $300.

  • 6 Admirals Club day passes.

  • Admirals Club individual membership (though this will use both of your choices).

  • $200 American Airlines Trip Credit.

  • Carbon emissions offset.

  • $200 donation to your choice of one of 10 partner charities.

  • Gift of AAdvantage Gold status.

Level 4 – Choose 2

  • 1 systemwide upgrade

  • 25,000 AAdvantage bonus miles, which NerdWallet values at about $300.

  • 6 Admirals Club day passes.

  • Admirals Club individual membership (though this will require both of your choices).

  • $200 American Airlines trip credit.

  • Carbon emissions offset.

  • $200 donation to your choice of one of 10 partner charities.

  • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum status (though this will take both of your choices).

Level 5 – Choose 2

  • 1 systemwide upgrade.

  • 25,000 AAdvantage bonus miles, which NerdWallet values at about $300.

  • 6 Admirals Club day passes.

  • Admirals Club individual membership (though this will use both of your choices).

  • $200 American Airlines trip credit.

  • Carbon emissions offset.

  • $200 donation to your choice of one of 10 partner charities.

  • Gift of AAdvantage Platinum status (though this will take both of your choices).

Million Miler perks

Fly a million miles, and consider yourself American Airlines royalty.

  • Once you’ve flown 1 million qualifying miles, you’ll earn Gold status for the life of the program, plus 35,000 bonus miles.

  • At 2 million, you get lifetime Platinum status and four one-way systemwide upgrades.

  • For every additional million miles you fly, you can earn an additional four one-way systemwide upgrades.

Despite the change in the way elite status is earned, you still need to fly to earn Million Miler status.

Can you buy your way to American Airlines elite status?

In a sense, yes. While you can’t outright hand American Airlines cash in exchange for status, you can earn elite status through spending on things that aren’t necessarily flights.

Either use your AAdvantage credit card for your everyday spending, or shop with American Airlines partners, and you’ll rack up Loyalty Points.

Spending on American Airlines AAdvantage credit cards

Most AAdvantage credit cards earn 1 base mile per $1 spent on eligible purchases (though some earn 0.5 base miles, while others earn an even-better 1.5 or 2 miles). One base mile equals one Loyalty Point toward elite status.

Even if your credit card earns bonus miles for certain categories (for example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® earns 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and gas stations), you’ll still only earn one base mile off that purchase. So, a $10 dining purchase would net you 20 miles toward your next free flight, but only 10 miles count toward elite status.

Welcome bonus offers on credit cards also won’t count toward elite status.

Shop with American Airlines partners

When you shop with American Airlines partners, you can earn Loyalty Points. Understand the terms of each program, as you’ll typically have to either link your AAdvantage account to the company you’re booking through by handing over your membership number to them, or you might have to shop through a link accessed via American’s site. Partners vary, but usually include:

  • American Airlines shopping programs: American Airlines Vacations, AAdvantage eShopping, AAdvantage Dining, SimplyMiles.

  • Hotels: bookaahotels.com, Hyatt, Marriott International, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Vacations, RocketMiles.

  • Rental cars: aa.com/car, Avis, Budget, Payless, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, National, Sixt.

  • Cruises: bookaacruises.com.

  • Retail partners: Shell, NRG Energy, Reliant Energy, Xoom, Miles for Opinion.

How long do you hold American Airlines elite status and how do you requalify?

American Airlines AAdvantage members qualify for status based on the 12-month period starting on March 1 of each year. Then, status lasts through March 31 of the following year.

What about expiring AAdvantage miles?

AAdvantage miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity, but you don't necessarily have to fly to remain active. That means you have to have earned or redeemed at least one mile within that two-year window. You can certainly do that by flying on American, either earning miles for a flight purchased with cash or redeeming miles to book that flight for free.

Though, there are tons of easy ways to maintain activity without actually flying, such as participating in American’s dining rewards program.

How are upgrades determined on American Airlines?

Upgrade priority is based on the number of Loyalty Points earned. So, the more points you earn, the higher are your chances of getting upgraded. For example, if you’re a Gold elite with 30,000 Loyalty Points, but there’s another Gold elite on the same flight who earned 45,000 Loyalty Points, that person will have upgrade priority over you.

What are American Airlines miles worth?

According to our valuations, American AAdvantage miles are worth about 1.5 cents each. When thinking about the value you could extract from your miles, a good rule of thumb is to use your miles on redemptions that meet or exceed that valuation.

Great ways to extract even more value from your American miles include using them on Web Specials, particularly those in first and business class cabins. If you’re booking regular MileSAAver awards, off-peak award rates also provide great opportunities for spending even fewer miles on certain routes.

How to status match with American Airlines

There are a few status matching opportunities with other loyalty programs, which allow you to claim American status, even if you’ve never set foot on an American airplane ever in your life.

Oneworld Alliance

Earning AAdvantage elite status also gives you perks when flying with the other Oneworld airlines, which include Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Qatar Airways.

If you have Oneworld elite status, you automatically have American Airlines elite status and vice versa. Here’s how status transfers between the two programs:

American Airlines elite status level

Oneworld elite status level

Gold.

Ruby.

Platinum.

Sapphire.

Platinum Pro.

Emerald.

Executive Platinum.

Emerald.

ConciergeKey.

Emerald.

With Ruby status, you’ll enjoy priority check-in and standby. Sapphire level adds on priority boarding, security and partner lounge access. Emerald gives you access to additional lounges and an extra bag allowance.

JetBlue and American Airlines also have deepened their code-sharing relationship and passengers on both airlines can now benefit from elite qualifying perks when traveling on either carrier.

World of Hyatt

American Airlines has a partnership with Hyatt hotels that gives you benefits with both brands. Link your account by entering your World of Hyatt number when logged into your American Airlines account.

Once linked, you get the following benefits:

  • Earn 1 AAdvantage bonus mile per qualifying $1 spent at Hyatt.

  • Members of the ultra-elite ConciergeKey status tier get World of Hyatt Globalist status.

  • AAdvantage Platinum members and higher can earn World of Hyatt elite status more quickly.

American Airlines elite status: Is it worth it?

The value of American Airlines AAdvantage elite status depends on factors including how often you fly, how much you use the perks and the value you place on upgrades. If you never check bags and are mostly fine sitting in economy, then it might not have as much value as it does for people who fly all the time and always check bags and pay for cabin upgrades.

That said, we performed a comprehensive analysis of the status perks to assign a dollar value to elite status. (Note that because American Airlines recently changed its elite status program, this table valuation is based on the old method of earning elite status.)

Elite level

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate

AAdvantage Gold

$2,158.

$7,595.

28%.

AAdvantage Platinum

$7,500.

$18,987.

40%.

AAdvantage Platinum Pro

$15,153.

$31,646.

48%.

AAdvantage Executive Platinum

$29,008.

$50,633.

57%.

The value of benefits includes variables including the cost to otherwise check bags and the estimated value of upgrades. Perhaps the biggest variable in that number is the elite earning rate.

While Members (which is your tier automatically granted by joining) earn just 5 miles per dollar spent on American, you earn bonus miles once you climb the elite status ladder. Gold members get a 40% bonus, while Executive Platinum members get an incredible 120% bonus. Consider it the airline version of "the rich get richer." Since those miles can then be poured into more free flights, the higher tiers of status have an especially high value of benefits.

Of course, status doesn’t come for free. Before making it your mission to earn the highest tier of status, realize that — unless someone like your employer is paying for these flights for you — earning status comes at an enormous cost, whether it’s paying for airfare or paying the annual fee on airline credit cards.

Earning elite status at American Airlines isn’t easy, but the many thousands of dollars in value it offers to frequent travelers can be worth it. And even if you don’t earn elite status, joining the AAdvantage program still makes sense for people who fly on the airline occasionally, as you’ll earn miles that can slowly accumulate enough to book a free flight.


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