American Airlines Loyalty Points Game Update: Halfway through, who’s in front?

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Remember the AA Loyalty Games? At the beginning of this year, American Airlines started using a new way for AAdvantage members to earn elite status.  Elite Qualifying Miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars were gone and, in their place, members began earning elite status simply by amassing Loyalty Points (LP).  What piqued our interest most about this change was that Loyalty Points were earned not just by flying but also through credit card spend, shopping portals and more.

At the same time that they announced these changes, AA also extended the elite status qualification window. In 2022, we would have 14 months to earn enough points for elite status (January 2022 through February 2023) but in future years we’d have just the usual 12 months (March through Feb). It was the perfect year for the AA Loyalty Games

The goal was simple: each of us would try to earn enough Loyalty Points to reach AAdvantage Platinum Pro status, but with a key restriction: the value of the redeemable miles and Loyalty Points earned must outweigh the fees and rewards not earned due to passing up other options. After a couple of months, we revealed our initial results and, surprisingly, I was in the lead.

But that was five months ago. Since then, the cost of travel has gone bonkers, the AA eShopping Portal has slowed down and some of the initial deals we were excited about where slow to post (or worse, getting clawed back). Not to mention, we also started the 3Cards3Continents challenge and card draft, so everyone was busy booking their dream trips.

We’re now halfway through the 14-month earning period, so it seems like the perfect time to check in and see how everyone is doing. While the order hasn’t changed since March, the competition is definitely heating up.

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:

AAdvantage elite status Gold Platinum Platinum Pro Executive Platinum
Loyalty Points Required 30K 75K 125K 200K
Mileage Bonus 40% 60% 80% 120%
Preferred Seating Y Y Y Y
Main Cabin Extra Seating Upgrade at Check In Y Y Y
Domestic First Class Upgrade 24 hour window 48 hour window 72 hour window 100 hour window
Upgrade on Alaska Airlines N N Y Y
Free checked bags 1 2 3 3
Loyalty Choice Rewards* 0 0 Choose 1 Choose 2
OneWorld Status Ruby: Access to biz class check-in, preferred seating Sapphire: Access to OneWorld Business Class lounges Emerald: Access to OneWorld First and Business Class lounges
* Loyalty Choice Rewards are granted only after completing 30 or more qualifying flight segments during the elite membership year
Loyalty Choice Rewards 125K Loyalty Points 200K Loyalty Points 350K Loyalty Points 550K Loyalty Points 750K Loyalty Points
# Choices 1 2 2 2 2
Systemwide Upgrade 1 2 1 1 1
Bonus Miles 20K1 20K2 25K 25K 25K
Admirals Club One-Day Passes 6 6 6 6 6
Admirals Club individual membership N/A Y requires 2 choices Y requires 2 choices Y requires 2 choices Y requires 2 choices
$200 AA Trip Credit Y Y Y Y Y
Carbon emissions offset Y Y Y Y Y
$200 Charity Donation Y Y Y Y Y
One-time award rebate 15% N/A N/A N/A N/A
Gift AAdvantage status Gold Gold Gold Platinum requires 2 choices Platinum requires 2 choices
Bang & Olufsen premium product N/A Y requires 2 choices N/A N/A N/A
1) AAdvantage® credit card members receive an additional 5,000 bonus miles for a total of 25,000 miles 2) AAdvantage® credit card members receive an additional 10,000 bonus miles for a total of 30,000 miles
 

Greg’s Progress

Greg shot out of the gates after New Year’s, racking up miles and Loyalty Points with abandon through obscure portal deals on dog food and bite aligners (it was an exciting time). At the beginning of March, which was his last update, he was sitting at about 16% of his goal of 125,000 Loyalty Points by the end of February 2023. He concluded,

I’m tracking pretty well towards my goal, but with very little room to spare.  I feel like I need to kick it up a few notches going forward!

Here’s what’s happened since:

Greg’s sitting just over 1/3 of the way towards his goal of Platinum Pro

Just over halfway through our 14-month earning period, Greg has 49,299 Loyalty Points, about 85,000 miles short of the 125,000 LP’s needed for Platinum Pro. While not exactly a disastrous showing, it definitely makes the remaining climb just a bit steeper than when we all started back in January.

In Greg’s defense, he’s been Frequent Mileing like no one’s business, work-cationing all over the US, touring through the Death Valley-like heat of Central Germany and doing battle with ANA’s round-the-world chart for his 3Cards3Continents dream trip. He’s been a busy guy.

Given all that, I have to wonder what he has left for the stretch run of the Loyalty Games. AAdvantage Platinum status only requires 75,000 points and there’s no shame in stopping there.

Well, almost no shame.

We told him he could take the bag off, but Greg was feeling a little sheepish about his Loyalty Games progress

Nick’s Progress

Nick started even faster than Greg when the Loyalty Points earning began on January 1. After two months, he was sitting at just over 38,000 Loyalty Points, thanks in large part to some Verizon “half clawbacks” that took his redeemable miles and left his LP’s. That was more than enough for American Airlines AAdvantage Gold status…and more than halfway to the 75,000 Loyalty Points needed for Platinum status. Wowza!

So how have the next five months fared for Nick?

Nick is currently sitting at 69,700 Loyalty Points, just shy of AAvantage Platinum. While his pace has slowed some (how could it not?) he’s still on track for Platinum Pro and has actually closed the gap between us, compared to March.

Some of Nick’s highlights have been

  • Bask: 4 deals for a total of 330 miles
  • Avis: 1,000 LP for a 6-day rental in Malta
  • Verizon Business: 14,900 LP
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 4,608 from GiftCards.com
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 1300 from the Wall Street journal trial
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 216 from Chewy.com purchase (an item for a relative’s dog)
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 3 deals for 273 LP from LuLus.com (wife bought some dresses)
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 1200 from signing up for Discovery+ (stacked with Chase Offer)
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 499 from Lowes.com (from buying a new air conditioner)
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 57 from Hanes.com (I seriously don’t know)
  • AAdvantage eShopping: 6200 miles reinstated from Verizon prepaid
  • Hyatt dual accrual: 615

Nick has found a good, if somewhat haphazard, fountain of LP’s with various Verizon deals and actually had another 6200 LP’s reinstated from an earlier clawback dating to when he hit a prepaid deal hard earlier in the year. In addition to the 69,700 LP’s he has right now, Nick also has some miles/points due from his European trip in June ..but they’ve been slower to post than molasses on a winter’s day. Once they do finally post he’ll be across the AAdvantage Platinum threshold and on the home stretch towards Platinum Pro.

Nick’s confident, you can see it in his fedora. You might even say he’s got some swagger.

Tim’s Progress

As of today, August 5th, 2022, I’ve earned 82,080 Loyalty Points and have another 9,710 points pending for an expected total of 91,790 LP’s.  I’m 65.7% of the way towards my goal of earning 125,000 AA Loyalty Points with another 7.7% of the goal pending.  I’m feeling good about the progress so far, as I’ve made it almost 3/4 of the way to Platinum Pro halfway through our 14 month earning period.  This gives me 7 months to get the remaining 32,210 points that I need to obtain Platinum Pro, or just over 4,500 pts/month.

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 may disagree with), my current average cost per point is .35 cents.  Probably the best find in the last few month is that, at times, it can be very good for points-earning when Giftcards.com deals get cancelled (as astute observers of my scorecard will notice).

Which Deals Worked?

As always, these are just my DP’s and some earnings might be YMMV.

  • 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: 9,725 Loyalty Points (7,400 via AA eShopping, 2,325 via SimplyMiles)
  • Gift Cards.com: 3x Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
  • Blue Apron: 2,200 Loyalty Points via AA eShopping
  • Dell.com: 10x/5x/3x through AA eShopping portal for Xbox gift cards.

You can find details about most of the above deals in our cheat sheet.

The competition is fierce, to say the least

What’s next?

I think that I took everyone (including myself) by surprise when I was leading after the first round of the Loyalty Games. As I said then, “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?”

Well, I’m not surprising anyone now. I can feel the AA-shaped target on my back and Nick’s fedora is nipping at my heels. If I hadn’t found a couple of well-timed deals, he may have passed me already.

But there’s a wrinkle that will make the final round of the AA Loyalty Games even spicier. There’s another member of the FM team who originally said he wasn’t playing but then suddenly dropped a bomb in our laps, sending us a clear message: not only is he playing, but he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

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Josh

I’m at 105,500.

But ah dang the Verizon business 14900 ended at the end of July

Last edited 2 days ago by Josh
Eliza

Do segments flown on award tickets count towards the 30 segments for Loyalty Choice Rewards?

Troy

Yes
any tips on getting a lot of segments for low cost or on rewards?
I’ll be getting Exec Plat (and therefore could opt for 1+2+2=5 SWUs) and will only naturally get probably 12-16 segments, so wondering if it’s worthwhile to manufacture.

Last edited 4 days ago by Troy
Advanced Surgical

I’m at 980,362. When does it end?

Aloha808

How many flights are you guys at? I remember Nick saying that he wanted to hit 30 flights in order to get the platinum pro choice benefit.

Spud

I am at about 185k loyalty point but only 11 flights. Can I still get EP at 200k without having the 30 segments?

Nick Reyes

Yes, you can still get EP, you just won’t get the systemwide upgrades (those require 30 segments).

Nick Reyes

I definitely didn’t say that I wanted to hit 30 flights — I remember talking about how the question was whether or not it was worth focusing on flying American in order to earn the 30 segments and that since I live near a small airport, I’m generally looking at a minimum of 4 segments for any round trip, so if I flew American for stuff like the Chicago Seminars and a couple of conferences like that, I could conceivably be close enough to 30 to maybe consider a little segment running. But I remember being unconvinced about whether or not that was worth it. I remain pretty unconvinced.

If I remember correctly, I think I said that it made sense to me to go after status this year because it’s relatively easy (especially with having 14 months). Then, maybe next year I would try to requalify if it continues to be easy to do so and then maybe I’d consider doing 30 segments next year since I would presumably have a decent shot at upgrades on those 30 segments given that I’d have a high level of status. So to me, part of the play in going after status this year is to make it more comfortable next year *if* I decide to try for 30 segments. That remains a big “if”.

Aloha808

Cool, thank you for the insight! You’d be paying cash for the flights next year then?

Grant

I’m tied for last with 0 loyalty points but whose counting?

Biggie F

Whoa … You guys are still getting Hyatt dual accrual. Stopped for me earlier this year. Foolishly, I thought it was dead. Any one out there know how to re-hook AA and Hyatt?

Nick Reyes

Not sure why you thought it was dead — Hyatt and AA have an ongoing partnership. When I Googled “link hyatt and aa”, this link came up and it looks like that’s what you need: https://world.hyatt.com/content/gp/en/rewards/american-airlines.html

Biggie F

Thanks. And indeed I am (was) still linked. So now I have to figure out who to start with (Hyatt? AA?) for getting the AA miles for my paid Hyatt stays in 2022.

Sigh.

Timothy

You gotta have elite status with both AA and Hyatt for the dual earning

Last edited 3 days ago by Timothy
Matt

Can you elaborate on the canceled GCC deals at all?

Vince

I am not sure but he might be implying that LPs posted despite the order being cancelled. Looking at the sheet Tim posts no cost for the “amount ‘wasted’ on earning AA points” as he does in subsequent purchases. Also I believe there is a monthly limit on how much in purchases can be made with giftcards.com/earning redeemable miles, I am not sure if that limit extends to LPs

M Khan

Not sure this is spoon feeding to much – but being up in Canada, I’m still familiarizing myself with some of the online retailers in the States – but I’m assuming if one were to place an order for an egift card – chances of cancelling them is nil? Only an option if placed for a plastic gift card?

Ivan Y

Somewhat related to this discussion, are there any quick ways to get 10-20K AA miles for a 1-1.5 cpm? May need a little bit extra for an award booking.

loungeabuser

If I don’t mind spending some money for EXP , what’s the best way to get 200k points in one fell swoop? (I recall the 86 Bonsai tree deal but I think that’s no longer available.)

Troy

159,403 Loyalty Points for me, with a negative cost per point thanks to 5 Verizon lines that I profited handsomely off of transferring into Xfinity Mobile.
Gold since March 1
Platinum since March 6
Platinum Pro since May 12
Mic drop

Reno Joe

Now, wait a second. Are these the same guys who avoid American Airlines if it is at all possible?

Christian

So is Nick trying for the 30 segments to get Loyalty Choice Rewards? I’m trying to hit 350,000 LP’s for the year (255K now) in conjunction with 30 segments so I can unlock the comparative treasure trove O rewards but admittedly, mustering the last 10 segments may require a few segment runs. I’m not sure it’ll be worth trying again but it’s sure refreshing to pursue status in a way that’s fun again. It’s almost like IHG six or eight years ago.

Nick Reyes

@Reno Joe I don’t know as though I’ve said that I avoid American Airlines if it is at all possible, but I definitely don’t usually go out of my way to fly them. I think it’ll be cool if I’m able to get some sort of cool first class lounge access at some point because of these games we play and/or an upgrade. But mostly this is just fun.

@Christian – no, I’m not actively trying to get 30 segments. I’ve only flown the one segment this year on AA (MXP-JFK last month). I don’t have plans to fly any other segments on AA this year at this point.

Josh

Agreed, having the ability to get flagship lounge access with status on an international trip is totally worth it (even when not flying F/J)