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:
- 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
|AAdvantage elite status||Gold||Platinum||Platinum Pro||Executive Platinum|
|Loyalty Points Required||30K||75K||125K||200K|
|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|
|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|
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.