What is an AA Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD)?

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An Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) is a dollar amount spent with AA or one of its partners that qualify for earning elite status with American Airlines. EQD's are awarded as such:

EQDs are awarded based on ticket price (includes base fare plus carrier-imposed fees, but excludes government-imposed taxes and fees) on American Airlines-marketed flights.

That seems simple enough. However, there's some complexity to how AA EQDs are calculated.

Why and How Many AA EQDs Do I Need?

EQDs were introduced to ensure that earning American Airlines elite status required you to spend a minimum amount of money with American and partner airlines. To earn status, you need to meet a minimum EQD threshold. Plus you need to either fly a specific number of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) or complete a number of Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS).

Typically, you need to earn the following to earn elite status:

Status TierElite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
Gold3,00025,00030
Platinum 6,00050,00060
Platinum Pro 9,00075,00090
Executive Platinum15,000100,000120

However, due to the global situation with COVID-19, AA has modified the requirements for 2021 to the following:

Status TierElite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs)Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs)
Gold2,00020,00020
Platinum4,50040,00040
Platinum Pro7,00060,00070
Executive Platinum12,00080,00095

Earning EQDs on American Airlines

For flights on American Airlines, you earn EQD based on your ticket's price — excluding taxes and fees.

American Airlines will show you how many EQDs you'll earn before you complete a booking. For example, this flight cost $198 to book. However, you'll only earn 144 EQDs from the booking:

AA will show the EQD earnings on the trip confirmation page

If you didn't note the EQD before booking, you'll need to check the cost summary. The fare and any carrier-imposed fees are eligible for EQD earnings. But, taxes are excluded. From this cost summary, you can expect to earn 142 EQD:

You'll earn AA EQD based on your base fare before taxes

International flights are a bit more complicated since there are often carrier-imposed fees. In this case, you would earn 800 EQDs (400 from the base fare and 400 from the carrier-imposed fees).

Add your base fare plus carrier-imposed fees to get the AA EQD earnings

Related: A Complete Guide to American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Status

Earning EQDs With AA's Partner Airlines

Earning on partner flights is straightforward as long as you purchase an eligible fare and you are flying an eligible route. You will earn EQDs as a percentage of the total miles flown. The actual percentage earned will depend on your ticket's fare class. Note that this is different than the cabin or service class — as there are different fare classes within business class, premium economy, and so forth.

Take a return trip on British Airways from Atlanta (ATL) to London Heathrow (LHR) in premium economy. The total distance flown is 9,420 miles, according to one online calculator. (AA and other calculators may produce slightly different results.)

According to American's British Airways partner-earning page, there are two levels of earning for BA premium economy. If your ticket class is W, you will earn 22% of miles flown as EQDs. That's a total of 2,702 EQDs for this trip.

On the other hand, if you have a lower class fare (E or T), then you will only earn 20% of miles flown for a total of 1,884 EQDs.

British Airways AA EQD earning chart

Note that the difference in earnings would apply even though you could be sat in the same seat on the aircraft in both cases. However, these EQD earnings are the same whether you pay $1,000 or $4,000 for the booking.

Other Ways To Earn AA EQDs

Fortunately, you can earn more EQDs by meeting qualifying spending requirements on select co-branded AA credit cards. You can EQDs for spending on the following AA credit cards.

2021 EQD Waiver

AA has introduced an EQD waiver for 2021. If you spend $30,000 or more on an AA co-branded credit card in 2021, AA will waive the EQD requirement to reach Gold, Platinum, or Platinum Pro elite status. The waiver does not apply to the top-tier Executive Platinum status, where you will still have to earn 12,000 EQDs.

The waiver applies to spending on the following cards:

If you hold multiple AA cards, you can combine the spending to reach the $30,000 threshold to trigger the waiver. AA will combine the expenditure from the cards issued by Citi and Barclay's to reach the spending threshold.

Our Take

If you fly around a lot, then the AA advantage program offers some excellent value. Elite status brings some great perks and benefits. However, hitting elite status — especially meeting the EQD requirement — can be challenging. But, with some planning, the use of credit cards, and a waiver in 2021, reaching EQD goals in 2021 should be achievable.

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Comments

  • If I book a ticket through British Airways, using BA flight numbers, but the flights are operated by AA, will my EQDs be based on the flight miles or the dollars spent?

    • Flight miles. AA only considers the airline flight number – not the ticketing airline or the operating airline – for crediting AAdvantage miles, EQM, and EQD.

  • Does the cost of upgrading your seat count towards EQDs? From main cabin seat to preferred seat for example?

    • No, EQDs are earned on the ticket price, minus taxes and carrier-imposed fees. Other payments you make to American Airlines—like checked-bag- or seat-assignment fees—do not count towards EQDs.

  • ANNETTE HAYNES says:

    Good to read this explanation of a rather complicated calculation. it wasn’t always this complicated, it seemed to be easier only a few years ago. I guess it was introduced to save us all realising that we were losing something along the way. So hard to meet the requisite levels and obviously made even more difficult by the current restrictions to travel. Looking forward to being able to travel once aga

  • leonardo barbieri says:

    I was not aware that AA had introduced an EQD exemption for 2021. I do not have an associated credit card, but I will find out which bank in Argentina applies and I will count on this blog for those who are based in my country. Thanks

  • Love the breakdown! I had always wondered if it was difficult for non-business travelers to achieve some level of elite status with AA but seeing the “and/or” statements above helps break it down. However, are there really only 2 co-branded credit card options to help potential travelers earn status? Also, a great follow-up to this would be a breakdown of the benefits of earning elite status.

  • mark davis says:

    is there anyway to get an alert as to which restaurants are given AA mile credits in any given day in my area?

  • EQDs are always the most difficult to earn if you book economy fares. I will have difficulty meeting the EQD requirements for Executive Platinum this year. The credit card waiver does no good as I will meet the EQD threshold for platinum pro. But I guess this is how they separate the top elites from all the others. (With Concierge Key being an entirely separate situation).

  • linda Falat says:

    what a great program

  • Good answers to a sometimes mysterious question of what is and what isn’t an EQD!

  • Basically only business travels will qualify for higher status tiers…

  • Spending $12000 in order to reach the Executive Platinum status during the pandemic is a VERY tall order.

  • Thanks. Just seems that American makes it a little harder than some other airlines to reach/keep status. Who knows, maybe as travel ramps up, maybe American along with other airlines will figure out a simpler system that is also fair to both the airline and the customer. One can hope!

  • Continues to be disappointing for being penalized as a smart shopper and finding good deals on long haul flights.

  • Anthony Bebko says:

    The RED Aviator Card no longer has the EQD earning benefit. I filled out the application only to find out it was discontinued : (

  • Evelio Astray-Caneda III says:

    If I book using my Citi Thank You points to pay for the flight, do I earn EQDs? I think the answer is yes, but double checking as I am “thisclose” to Plat Pro and trying to make sure I spend enough.

    • Hey Evelio, yes, you should earn EQDs, but you should be aware that some bookings through bank travel portals post as AA “Special Fares”

      I really don’t know for sure, but reports on FlyerTalk say Citi ThankYou bookings do post as special fares, so you want to make sure your ticket will get you to platinum pro under the Special fares earning linked above.

      Here’s the FT thread.

  • Very good simple clear explanation of what this all is about (EQDs? etc) and why I should care or should not care.
    The AA website is so confusing with no basic explanation. Now I get it.
    Thank you.

  • arran wallace says:

    this is a good summary..
    for me as an elite status chaser-what it means in effect is that getting the eqd on aa/reqd spend on other airlines
    is becoming more important as compared to getting miles which have now been completely devalued in the amount you
    can earn on each ticket..
    interesting times!

  • This is a good explanation of how their miles work. I just don’t like the idea that you now have to spend a minimum amount now that it’s gone revenue based. A sign of the times I guess.

  • Nice summary. Reward Program keeps become more difficult to redemption. Def not spending that much time on AA when there are so many better options.

  • Yea AA should really offer a EQD waiver.

  • Howie,
    As you say, that huge loophole was closed. Fortunately, you are helping us find other sweet spots that do exist regarding accrual and redemption of miles. Without this site, who of us would have the time to look for them all? Thanks for your hard work.

  • If they brought back the ability to earn miles towards lifetime status through credit card spend that would be very interesting. Unfortunately though those days are long gone and it will never happen.

  • This EQD for credit card spend is out of reach for pretty much everyone except huge business spenders, and at that point it’d probably be better to use a a different card for category bonuses.

  • I agree that status is addictive and I did find myself only wanting to fly on American so I could achieve the status. And it has been helpful during irregular operations etc. I’d rather put my spend on a flexible points card rather than one of my AA cards so I guess I’m going to have to earn my EQD by actually spending on tickets.

  • thanks for the info

  • I don’t understand why Citi’s AA cards don’t offer EQDs when Barclay’s AA cards do.

  • Thanks, helpful

  • All this for the elite is SO confusing! Thank you for trying to explain it all.
    do they have something online that can display the dollars while you’re booking something? Or a calculator?

  • Great FAQ!

  • I might be mistaken on this but was there a Citi card that offered EQDs?

  • Sometimes other Oneworld frequent flyer program will have more sense for people leaving in the US because the don’t need Elite Qualifying Dollar for the same perks.

  • Your language above “EQDs were brought in by AA to ensure that their elite passengers have spent a reasonable amount of money with them and partner airlines.” clarifies this quite a bit. Thank you.

  • Thanks. I never really thought about getting ‘status’ on any one airline, as I switch to whoever is giving me the best deal or offer at the time, but it’s worth looking into.

    • The trouble is once you have got status with one airline it becomes addictive. You will find yourself only considering flights with that airline or its alliance partners. You will start justifying to yourself that it is worth the extra for the status miles. You will then start to find yourself flying round about routings just for the extra status miles. It is a slippery and expensive slope, but it is fun as well!

  • As someone with no real brand loyalty to airlines, just whomever offers the best bonus and flights I want to take, I never see myself being able to take advantage of hitting these tiers. Still, good to know.

  • It is really good that there is a way to get EQDs through credit card spend. Unfortunately though I don’t think there are any cards outside the US that give EQDs.

  • Thank you for clarifying these definitions.