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  • American Airlines has officially launch Loyalty Points, a new currency that earns AA elite status.
  • You can earn Loyalty Points from flying, credit cards, surveys, hotel stays, and more.
  • I plan to earn American Airlines Platinum status effortlessly after booking a week-long vacation I’d have made anyway.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best travel rewards credit cards.

In total honesty, I don’t care that much about American Airlines elite status. But if American Airlines is handing it out to travelers who rarely even fly, I may as well earn it in my spare time.

American Airlines has officially launched “Loyalty Points,” a brand new way to earn status. There are a lot of tricks to earning the status quickly — many of which take significant time and brainpower. While others spend hours each week monitoring shopping portal bonuses and stacking credit card offers to purchase obscure items and subscriptions they’ll almost certainly never use, I’ve got a better way. It involves tweaking a vacation plan or two, but it’s way easier.

Here’s my plan to leisurely achieve AA elite status while hardly ever patronizing the airline. Once I earn it, perhaps I’ll focus on flying them a bit more.

My target: American Airlines Platinum Status

Here’s a quick rundown as to what comes with each American Airlines elite status tier. These aren’t all benefits, but they’re the notable ones.

I’ve decided to go for Platinum status. It’s attainable, and it’s got fun benefits like access to Oneworld business class lounges, two free checked bags, and complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats at the time of booking. Depending on how easily I achieve it, I may aim higher.


Annual Fee


$99, waived for first 12 months


Regular APR


15.99% – 24.99% variable


Recommended Credit Score


Good to Excellent


Annual Fee


$99, waived for first 12 months


Regular APR


15.99% – 24.99% variable


Recommended Credit Score


Good to Excellent

More Information

  • The information related to the Citi®/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent at gas stations and restaurants
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn a $125 American Airlines Flight Discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your cardmembership year and renew your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • Enjoy preferred boarding on American Airlines flights
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% – 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

I may dabble in these methods, but I’ll do so sparingly. I’ve got better things to do.

Credit card spending

I’ve got three American Airlines credit cards: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
, and AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard®
.

If you have a co-branded American Airlines credit card, you can earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent. For example, if you hold the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll earn:

  • 2 miles (and 1 Loyalty Point) per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 2 miles (and 1 Loyalty Point) per dollar at eligible restaurants and gas stations  
  • 1 mile (and 1 Loyalty Point) per dollar on all other eligible purchases

As you can see, even if you’re spending in a bonus category, you’ll only earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar. In other words, there’s no real way to accelerate your Loyalty Points earnings via credit card. There are two exceptions:

  • The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
    offers 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 on purchases during the qualifying status year
  • The AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®
    offers 5,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $20,000 on purchases, another 5,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 on purchases, and another 5,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $50,000+ during the qualifying status year

Because I have the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red Mastercard®, I may ask Barclays if I can upgrade my card to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®. This way, if I happen to meet one of these spending thresholds, I’ll get a helpful stash of Loyalty Points.

Note that if you don’t have a way to generate lots of spending, swiping an AA credit card will hardly move the needle for you. Best to put more of your focus on other strategies.

Read more: The best credit cards for American Airlines flyers of 2022

SimplyMiles and the AAdvantage eShopping portal

You can earn bonus miles and Loyalty Points with American Airlines’ proprietary shopping portal. More than 1,200 stores participate.

Read more: Online shopping portals are an effortless way to earn bonus cash back and travel rewards — here’s how they work

For example, current deals include up to 4 miles per dollar at Home Depot and 7 miles per dollar at Sam’s Club. If you do any meaningful shopping online, you could easily pick up several thousand Loyalty Points for everyday purchases you’d have made anyway.

Add to the mix the AAdvantage SimplyMiles program, which are targeted offers that can be attached to your Mastercard. You’ll earn bonus miles when you use your registered Mastercard at select merchants.

In short, you can potentially “triple dip” to quickly earn miles and Loyalty Points. Simply enroll your American Airlines credit card in the AAdvantage SimplyMiles program and register your card for purchases that align with AAdvantage eShopping deals.

Read more: Your credit card could get you cash-back discounts or bonus rewards on your shopping — here’s how to find and activate these offers

Now, when you complete a deal through the AAdvantage SimplyMiles program with your American Airlines credit card, you’ll earn:

  • 1 mile and 1 Loyalty Point per dollar from spending on your American Airlines credit card
  • Bonus miles and Loyalty Points for spending through the AA shopping portal
  • Bonus miles and Loyalty Points for achieving a SimplyMiles offer

Flying American Airlines and partners

You’ll earn Loyalty Points at the same rate you earn redeemable American Airlines miles for your American Airlines flights. When buying airfare with AA, you’ll earn:

  • Member — 5 miles (and 5 Loyalty Points) per dollar
  • Gold status — 7 miles (and 7 Loyalty Points) per dollar
  • Platinum status — 8 miles (and 8 Loyalty Points) per dollar
  • Platinum Pro status — 9 miles (and 9 Loyalty Points) per dollar
  • Executive Platinum status — 11 miles (and 11 Loyalty Points) per dollar

The more you pay for your ticket, the more Loyalty Points you’ll earn. Unless you’re flying American Airlines a lot anyway, that’s an expensive way to earn elite status.

However, you can potentially earn Loyalty Points much cheaper by flying American Airlines’ partners. That’s because the miles and points you’re awarded aren’t based on the cash value of the ticket. Instead, you’ll earn based on:

  • The distance you fly
  • The cabin you book
  • Your American Airlines elite status

Here’s an example — let’s assume that:

  • You have no American Airlines elite status
  • You purchased a full-fare economy (Y) flight round-trip between Chicago and the Maldives on American’s partner, Qatar Airways
  • The flight cost $1,100
  • You elected to earn AA miles instead of Qatar miles

Because the number of miles you earn is based on the distance you fly, you’d earn 18,302 miles and Loyalty Points for this trip. That’s more than 16 miles/Loyalty Points per dollar. Had you flown American for the same trip, you’d have earned 5 miles/Loyalty Points per dollar, for a grand total of 5,500.

Because of this potentially higher earning rate, it could even be worthwhile to jump on a super cheap American Airlines partner flight just to produce Loyalty Points.

The main event: Book hotels through Rocketmiles

This is, in my opinion, the hands-down most powerful weapon to earn American Airlines elite status — and it’s my main focus to attain elite status.

Here’s how Rocketmiles works: You’ll receive a specific number of American Airlines miles based on the hotel you choose and your travel dates. It’s possible to earn up to 10,000 miles per night!

Whatever mileage figure the hotel is offering, you’ll receive that number both in redeemable miles and Loyalty Points. In other words, if your desired hotel earns 5,000 miles per night, you’ll get 5,000 AA miles deposited into your account and 5,000 Loyalty Points toward elite status.

I took a (very quick and crude) look at hotels I’d be willing to stay at during my upcoming travels. Let’s look at some examples that exhibit the potency of Rocketmiles.

To be clear, it’s almost never worthwhile to book Rocketmiles stays for the sole purpose of earning American Airlines elite status. You’ll only do well with this strategy if you can shoehorn them into travel you already planned to make.

Kinzie Hotel, Chicago

For my desired travel date, Kinzie Hotel costs $216.13 per night.

Rocketmiles checkout page for Kinzie Hotel in Chicago



Rocketmiles


This is the exact same price as booking direct — but when booking through Rocketmiles, I’ll get 5,000 American Airlines miles. Here’s what that means:

Subtracting the value I’ll receive from the redeemable miles I’ve earned, my hotel stay costs only $146.13. That means I’ve effectively paid 2.92 cents per Loyalty Point.

Dusit Princess Residence — Dubai Marina

The Dusit Princess Residence — Dubai Marina is an even better deal than above, costing just $211 per night and offering 6,000 American Airlines miles

Rocketmiles checkout page for Dusit Princess Residence - Dubai Marina



Rocketmiles


I’ll earn:

  • 6,000 redeemable miles, worth $84 in flights (per Insider’s valuations)
  • 6,000 Loyalty Points

Again subtracting the value of earned redeemable miles, this night costs effectively $127. The value I’ve paid for Loyalty Points is then 2.12 cents.

Two Maldives options

The Maldives is notorious for being cripplingly expensive. However, prices are much more digestible when your focus is on American Airlines elite status. You can literally earn Platinum status for a reasonably priced week-long five-star vacation through Rocketmiles.

For a week-long stay at Sun Island Resort & Spa, I can earn American Airlines Platinum status instantly.

Rocketmiles checkout page for Sun Island Resort and Spa



Rocketmiles


Seven nights here cost $3,013.20 after taxes and fees — but I’ll earn 70,000 miles:

  • 70,000 redeemable miles is worth $980 in travel (per Insider’s valuations)
  • 70,000 Loyalty Points immediately qualifies me for Platinum status

Subtracting the value of earned redeemable miles, this week-long luxury stay will effectively cost $2,033.20. For this stay, I’ve paid 2.9 cents per Loyalty Point.

Even better, here’s a seven-night stay at Robinson Noonu, an all-inclusive property in the Maldives. The price tag for this week of luxury is significantly higher at $4,335.28.

Rocketmiles checkout page for Robinson NOONU



Rocketmiles


I know that sounds out-of-the-question expensive, but it’s actually pretty tame for the Maldives. My wife and I booked the St. Regis Maldives on points a few years ago — paying zero dollars for the hotel — and we still spent $2,300 on food during our five-night stay. Restaurant prices are absolutely ridiculous, and you’ve got no choice but to pay them.

Read more: I’m never using points to stay in the Maldives again — here’s why I’ve changed my booking approach to this bucket-list destination

All this to say, an all-inclusive week for seven nights isn’t a bad deal — especially when you earn tens of thousands of airline miles and Loyalty Points, too.

Here’s what I’d get from this stay:

  • 61,000 redeemable American Airlines miles, worth $854 (per Insider’s valuations)
  • 61,000 Loyalty Points

Subtracting the value of earned redeemable miles, this vacation costs effectively $3,481.28. I’d be just 9,000 miles away from earning Platinum status. And if I used my American Airlines card to pay for the reservation, I’d earn another 4,335 miles and Loyalty Points — putting me just 4,665 points away from Platinum Status.

I fully intend to book a vacation like this later in 2022. It may not be the Maldives, as there are similar deals in many major cities.

Pair Rocketmiles with Capital One Venture cards


Regular APR


16.99% – 23.99% Variable


Recommended Credit Score


Excellent


Regular APR


16.99% – 23.99% Variable


Recommended Credit Score


Excellent

Pros

  • Excellent welcome bonus and miles earning
  • Premium perks including airport lounge access and statement credits
  • Visa Infinite benefits including travel and shopping protections

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Annual travel statement credits only apply to Capital One Travel purchases

Read Our Review
Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

More Information

  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening, equal to $1,000 in travel
  • Limited-time Offer: Receive up to $200 back in statement credits for vacation rentals charged to your account within your first year
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, plus unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Escape the airport crowd and recharge before your flight with unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at the Capital One Lounge and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more – you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

For a seriously cheap vacation and effortless American Airlines elite status, you can use Rocketmiles in tandem with a Capital One miles earning card. You can redeem Capital One miles to offset any purchases that code as travel — Rocketmiles bookings included.

For example, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening. After you earned this bonus, you’d have 120,000 total miles. This offer disappears on March 14, 2022.

Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each toward erasing travel purchases — so you could get $1,200 in free Rocketmiles hotel stays from this card bonus and miles earned from the minimum spending requirement.

Other notable Capital One bonuses include:

Bottom line

Time is money. I don’t have the bandwidth to keep on top of shopping portal deals and targeted credit card spending offers to inexpensively manufacture AA Loyalty Points for unwanted items or promotional trials that I’ll have to cancel a month later.

Instead, I plan to utilize Rocketmiles along my 2022 travels. I fully expect to achieve Platinum elite status with very little effort on my part — and without spending money on things I don’t want.

I also may open the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card to offset some of my hotel spending this year and further reduce the out-of-pocket cost to achieve American Airlines elite status.

Featured credit cards from our partners

Regular APR

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Credit Score

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