The Guide to American Airlines Elite Status

Holding American elite status can help you get upgrades, free checked bags and other perks.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Updated
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 placed well in NerdWallet’s annual analysis best airline loyalty programs.

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:

Not to mention a semi-secret fifth level, American Airlines ConciergeKey.

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

Rack up miles or enjoy lounge privileges with our favorite American Airlines cards
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Recent changes to American status levels

Elite status is harder to earn

As of 2023, it's tougher to earn American Airlines Gold elite status — American has increased the number of Loyalty Points needed to earn its Gold tier of elite status by 33%, from 30,000 to 40,000.

"Loyalty Choice Rewards” have been renamed “Loyalty Point Rewards," and several new rewards have been added for those flyers who are between tiers.

Generally speaking, most of the changes are better for people who already spend a lot with the airline and earn Platinum status or above.

Read more about the program updates here.

But now it's easier to spend your way to elite status

American removed 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.

As of March 1, 2023, that miles ceiling is moot, increasing the odds that you can spend your way to higher levels of status.

What is elite status on American?

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).

Loyalty Points aren't exactly the same as miles, but they go together like peanut butter and jelly. That's because one Loyalty Point is earned per one eligible AAdvantag mile. And those Loyalty Points are exactly what you need to become a VIP in the eyes of American. More Loyalty Points means higher levels of AAdvantage elite status. American has four tiers of elite status: AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum.

Your American Airlines status for that year is based on flying and spending with American Airlines partners in a 12-month period starting on March 1 of each year. Once you've earned status, your AAdvantage status is valid through March 31 of the following year.

Here are the four tiers of American Airlines elite status, their top benefits (and value) and how to earn it:

AAdvantage Gold

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 (including award tickets).

  • 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 40,000 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

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 (including award tickets).

  • 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

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 (including award tickets).

  • 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

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.

How to earn elite status with American Airlines

Elite status is earned through Loyalty Points. You earn one Loyalty Point per eligible AAdvantage mile earned. And given how many ways there are to earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, there are plenty of opportunities to in turn earn Loyalty Points.

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:

Elite status level

Loyalty Points

Gold

40,000 points.

Platinum

75,000 points.

Platinum Pro

125,000 points.

Executive Platinum

200,000 points.

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.

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. That includes using your AAdvantage credit card for your everyday spending, or shopping with American Airlines partners, and you’ll rack up Loyalty Points. Learn more about those ways you can spend your way to elite status below:

The best ways to earn Loyalty Points

Ways to rack up Loyalty Points to boost your ranks in the airline's elite status program include:

  1. Purchasing something with an American Airlines credit card.

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

  3. Booking vacation packages through American Airlines Vacations.

  4. Online shopping through the AAdvantage eShopping portal.

  5. Shopping in store with a credit card linked to a SimplyMiles account.

  6. Dining at restaurants that participate in AAdvantage Dining and paying with a linked credit card.

  7. Staying at partner hotels, including Marriott and IHG with a linked American Airlines account.

With enough Loyalty Points, you’ll earn elite status which then unlocks perks like seat upgrades, lounge membership and more. Here's a deeper dive into some of those ways to earn 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 Loyalty Points 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.

Loyalty Point Rewards

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

Loyalty Point 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 Point 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 Point 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).

🤓Nerdy Tip

You don't have to be an elite to earn a Loyalty Point Reward. Once you earn 15,000 Loyalty Points, you’ll receive Group 5 boarding for the membership year and the choice between 1. Priority check-in, security and Group 4 boarding for one trip; or 2. Five preferred seat coupons.

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.

What else you need to know

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 40,000 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 1.7 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.

How to status match with American Airlines

There are a few American Airlines 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 on American, plus access to expedited security lanes and partner lounges. Emerald gives you access to additional lounges and an extra bag allowance.

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.

Is American elite status 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.

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%.

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.


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 2024, including those best for:

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

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

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.

Miles
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

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

70,000

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

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 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
See more cards
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