American Airlines announced today that they will have a way to earn elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) by spending on one of their co-branded credit cards. They’re last to the table with program changes and last to the table with a credit card waiver for EQDs.
In case you missed it, there have been massive changes to the program:
- Back in June they announced changes, including a move to revenue-based earning and a new 75,000 mile elite level.
- They reduced the amount of miles you can earn on partner flights, both significantly and almost immediately.
- They decided to keep two credit card providers, both Citi and Barclaycard.
It’s that last bit about two credit card providers that’s relevant today. You’ll only be able to earn EQDs if you hold a Barclaycard-issued AAdvantage credit card. According to today’s announcement:
Customers who are residents of the United States (with the exception of Puerto Rico and the US territories) with AAdvantage® AviatorTM Red, AviatorTM Blue and AviatorTM Business MasterCard® accounts will have the opportunity to earn $3,000 EQDs when you spend $25,000 on purchases during the calendar year.
AAdvantage® AviatorTM Silver MasterCard® accounts will have the opportunity to earn up to $6,000 EQDs when you spend $50,000 on purchases each calendar year, by earning $3,000 EQDs after $25,000 in purchases and another $3,000 EQDs after $50,000 in purchases.
Purchases exclude returned goods and services, cash advances, convenience checks, transferred balances, credits, fees and interest charges.
How Does This Compare With Delta And United?
- Delta offers a full waiver of the Medallion Qualifying Dollars requirement if you spend $25,000 on a Delta SkyMiles credit card.
- United will offer you a waiver on Premier Qualifying Dollars if you spend $25,000, but only up to Premier Platinum, not for 1K status.
That puts American somewhere in between United and Delta in terms of what can be earned with credit card spend. On one hand, $50,000 is a lot of spend to earn $6,000 EQDs. On the other, they do apply to Executive Platinum status.
When You Spend Is Important (Annoyingly So)
Starting in 2017, American Airlines will rank folks for upgrades inside each elite tier based on how many EQDs they’ve earned over the previous 12 months. No, not in a calendar year, a rolling 12-month number. So, when you spend on credit cards (and ultimately earn extra EQDs) may affect where you stand in the upgrade queue. Good times.
Oh, And The Formalized Concierge Key Status. OK, Not Really
Part of the announcement included a mention of upgrade status. It denotes how Executive Platinum members will qualify for free domestic upgrades after Concierge Key members are upgraded. Concierge Key is an unannounced status level that American has had around forever. So far, there haven’t been any formal qualification requirements. There’s not much new info now, other than it appears they’ve published that CK members qualify for upgrades at 120 hours prior to flight time.
Good News? Bad News?
It’s a positive that there will be a way to earn some EQDs via credit card spend. I think the threshold of $50,000 in spend for half the EQDs to earn EXP is a bad value proposition in general. Unless it’s the only way you can earn EXP, that’s a pain. Even then, giving the dilution of benefits at EXP, you may find more value in that $50K spend elsewhere.
It’s worth noting the Barclaycard AAdvantage credit cards are less competitive than some other cards for bonus categories. I’m glad to see American thinking of a slightly different way to offer this benefit than their competitors. Still, I think it’s a tough sell for a decent chunk of elites.
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