I’ll be honest, stepping into a points and miles game with Greg the Frequent Miler and Nick Reyes feels a little like playing Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes…at the same time (if you don’t follow American Football, let’s just say it’s daunting). How could this average Midwestern dude keep up with two titans of the industry, guys who earn 500,000 Membership Rewards for buying a car and use miles to hang out with Richard Branson on his private island without breaking a sweat?
I’m already a One World Emerald and do almost all of my domestic travel via Alaska, so I wasn’t terribly interested in the status in and of itself. I fully expected this first reveal to be a post of shame, to be the token “well, he gave it a shot” guy on the FM totem pole. But, you know what they say: “you can take the gamer out of the game, but you can’t take the game out of the gamer.” Or something like that.
The results of the first two months are in and surprisingly:
AA Loyalty Posts & Tools
If you’re interested in earning American Airlines elite status without flying (or wondering why others are interested), these posts will help:
- Introduction (What’s happening? How can you earn AA status without flying? Why should anyone care?): AA’s Loyalty Point Pursuit game: Earn status w/out flying
- Cheat sheet (what works, what doesn’t): How to earn American Airlines Loyalty Points without flying.
- Keep score: AA Loyalty Game Scorecard
As of today, March 6th, 2022, I’ve earned 39,405 Loyalty Points and have another 5,800 points pending. I’m 31.5% of the way towards my goal of earning 125,000 AA Loyalty Points with another 4.6% of the goal pending. I’m fairly thrilled at the progress so far, as I’ve made it over 1/2 of the way to Platinum and 1/3 of the way to Platinum Pro in two months. This gives me a full year to get the other 85,000 points I need to get to Platinum Pro, or just over 7,000 pts/month. This seems very doable.
I’m also feeling very good about my Cost Per Point (CPP). When figuring out my “excess cost” on a deal, my basic formula is:
- Actual Cost – What I would have paid for the deal without miles – Amex/Citi/Chase offer + 2.2% Cashback (because of the Nearside debit card) = Excess Cost
I try to be pretty ruthless with the “what I would have paid for the deal” metric: $3 per bottle of wine including shipping, $4 per meal for meal kits. It’s what would be such a good deal that it would be a no-brainer to try it. The one exception is giftcards.com, where I just factored in the 2.2% cashback missed, activation/liquidation of Visa Gift cards and shipping as excess cost.
Using this formula (which some will disagree with), my current average cost per point/mile is .38 cents. The Byte deal helped this out a ton as it was profitable before even considering miles gained. I’d be a buyer of AA miles at .38 CPP, without even considering Loyalty Points, so getting the combination is the extra gravy on the potatoes.
What Deals Worked?
I consider myself extremely lucky, as all of deals that I signed-up for tracked appropriately and earned both Loyalty Points and redeemable miles (*rubs rabbit’s foot*). Here’s a full list:
- Spot & Tango: 3,430 Loyalty Points (2,500 via AA eShopping; 930 via SimplyMiles)
- Byte: 4,650 Loyalty Points via Simply Miles
- Lathwaites: 3000 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
- Bright Cellars: 3,000 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
- Naked Wines: 3,700 Loyalty Points (2,500 via AA eShopping; 1,200 via SimplyMiles)
- Winc: 2,500 Loyalty Points (1,500 via AA eShopping; 1,000 via SimplyMiles)
- Marketwatch: 1,000 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
- SunBasket: 4,700 Loyalty Points (3,700 via AA eShopping; 1,000 via SimplyMiles)
- Vinesse: 2,000 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
- Green Chef: 2,200 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
- Motley Fool (so far?): 9,725 Loyalty Points (7,400 via AA eShopping, 2,325 via SimplyMiles)
Deals to be determined
- Gift Cards.com: 3,600 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping [hasn’t posted yet, filed a ticket and was told it would post…we’ll see]
- Blue Apron: 2,200 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping [hasn’t posted yet]
It might be beginner’s luck, or maybe I’m a little too fond of wine deals. Regardless, it’s on like Donkey Kong and the competition’s only going to get more intense moving forward. Greg won’t be workcationing in California every month (I think?) and Nick is stockpiling old cell phones and SIM cards so that he’s fresh and ready for the next round of Verizon deals.
My goal is to average about 10,000 points a month to account for foibles along the way and give me some extra time. That’s not a heavy lift and I feel confident that Platinum Pro is in my future. But I can feel the AA-shaped target on my back…can I continue to keep pace with Nick and Greg? Stay tuned…