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When American Airlines replaced its existing status qualification system with Loyalty Points, there was plenty of speculation as to the impacts. Who would gain and who would lose? Would earning status be easier or harder? Regardless of personal circumstances, all AAdvantage members had a shot to play the game of collecting Loyalty Points throughout the year. Now that the dust has settled and we're fully transitioned to American’s Loyalty Points game, it's worth taking a closer look at what it's like to play.
Basics of the American Airlines Loyalty Points Game
Part of the beauty of the American's Loyalty Points system is its refreshing simplicity: Earn AAdvantage miles to earn Loyalty Points toward elite status. Loyalty Points requirements for each tier of American Airlines status are as follows:
- Gold: 40,000 Loyalty Points
- Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points
- Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
- Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points
There is a long, long list of ways to earn Loyalty Points – ways to play the game – some of which are more effective or efficient than others. Focusing on these approaches to the game simplify earning status with American Airlines. In fact, you can sometimes earn status without even stepping foot on a plane.
American Airlines Shopping Portal
If you're not using a shopping portal when you make online purchases, you're likely leaving points and miles on the table. Further to that point, AAdvantage members earn 1 Loyalty Point for each base miles earned through the American Airlines shopping portal. Importantly, there are regular offers to earn 10x or more miles on purchases with select retailers. Savvy shoppers can rack up Loyalty Points quickly with their purchases.
Typically, I check websites such as CashBackMonitor before making purchases online. I do this to make sure I don't forgo big portal rewards elsewhere. Sometimes, a retailer might only offer 1x rewards on purchases through American's shopping portal. But it could be 10x or more through another portal such as Rakuten.
Another way to earn Loyalty Points without flying comes from SimplyMiles. It's available to anyone with a Mastercard and works similarly to other card offer programs. Instead of earning cash back or transferrable points, SimplyMiles users earn American Airlines miles in addition to Loyalty Points. Signing up for the program is easy, and it links automatically to your AAdvantage account. Available offers rotate regularly and must be activated before being used. Be sure to check offers frequently to make sure purchases earn the most Loyalty Points possible.
Loyalty Point Stacking Opportunities
Luckily, the two opportunities described above do not exist in an either-or situation. Instead, you can combine the two and create extra earnings. There are approximately 100 SimplyMiles offers at a time and hundreds of retailers on the AA shopping portal. This creates plenty of chances for stacking in the Loyalty Points game. Let's take a look at an example:
On the American Airlines shopping portal, LensCrafters is offering 8 miles per dollar.
That same retailer appears on the SimplyMiles offers page, giving users the opportunity to earn 2.5 miles per $1.
Combining the two offers would consist of activating the SimplyMiles offer then navigating through the American Airlines shopping portal and paying for a purchase with the Mastercard registered in your SimplyMiles account. Instead of just 1 or 2 miles per $1, you'd earn 10.5. Plus, you'll earn the same number of Loyalty Points as the number of base miles earned here (basically, this excludes limited-time bonus offers).
And since you have to pay with a Mastercard in SimplyMiles, it's worth highlighting that American Airlines co-branded credit cards in the U.S. are Mastercards. You'll earn another 1 Loyalty Point per $1 spent here (from your credit card itself), further increasing your stacking in the Loyalty Points game. That's 11.5 Loyalty Points per $1 spent.
Even more opportunities exist to be rewarded on purchases. However, these chances to earn won't be in the form of Loyalty Points. Instead, you'll get cash back. Still, any possible way to reduce the net cost of a purchase counts. Amex Offers, Chase Offers, and Citi Merchant Offers all stack with American Airlines shopping portal opportunities. Plus, Citi Merchant Offers enjoy the added benefit of stacking with SimplyMiles offers, as well.
Super stack situations
If the stars align, you can find situations where a shopping portal offer stacks with a SimplyMiles offer and a Citi Merchant Offer. This triple stack, or super stack, opportunity has the capability to make the value of AA miles you earn higher than the cost of acquiring them. In addition, the Loyalty Points earned become the cherry on top. Those kinds of situations are quite rare. Typically, when all of these offers line up, the earnings/savings combo is substantial.
An example always helps highlight the opportunities, so let's take a look at one in particular. The Farmer's Dog, a dog food subscription service, can be found on all three of the AA shopping portal, SimplyMiles, and Citi Merchant offers right now:
You can find The Farmer's Dog on the AA shopping portal (above) and SimplyMiles (below).
You'll also get cash back from Citi Merchant Offers:
I don't have a dog. But I did go through the sign-up process for an imaginary dog to find out the approximate cost of a purchase.
The subscription service starts with a two-week taste test. After this, a subscription renewal kicks in. The price below does reflect a special 50% discount that was automatically applied on the website:
Considering the super stack opportunity described above, my test order has a net cost of $16.78. It would earn 945 American Airlines miles. The rough “cost” of the miles earned under this scenario is 1.78 cents apice, which is lower than the cost of purchasing miles directly from the airline on most days. Better yet, if you need dog food, you're getting that, too. Loyalty Points earned through the transaction then become a further added bonus.
Other Options to Earn Loyalty Points Quickly
While many other options exist to earn Loyalty Points, hotel stays offer the chance to earn large quantities of Loyalty Points at a time. Rocketmiles and AAHotels both provide travelers the chance to earn thousands of Loyalty Points (and AA miles!) for hotel stays across the globe.
To provide a personal anecdote, I recently had a two-night stay in Venice and wanted to stay on the main island by the grand canal. Without stashes of Marriott points for somewhere like the Gritti Palace, I opted to find an independent property that would reward me in the form of Loyalty Points/AA miles. It helped with a final push toward the next status tier and yielded 12,000 redeemable AA miles in the process. My account was credited on the day I checked out of the hotel.
Co-branded credit card spending
While not exactly a revolutionary tactic, credit card spending lets game players add an additional 1x (in most situations) Loyalty Points on purchases. This includes these opportunities discussed. Although one would lose out on opportunities to earn a higher points rate on spend using other credit cards, those seeking everything possible to reach the next status tier might consider spending on an AA co-branded card to get over the finish line. Big spenders might also be able to reach top-tier Executive Platinum status just through credit card spending alone!
Signing up for American Airlines co-branded credit cards and meeting any minimum spend requirements is the fastest way to earn American Airlines miles. To be clear, you'll earn Loyalty Points on the spending activity to earn the welcome bonus, but you won't earn Loyalty Points from the bonus itself — just the promised bonus miles.
Playing the American Airlines Loyalty Points game makes it possible to earn top-tier American Airlines status without stepping foot on a plane. Game players can get the most out of their efforts by searching for super stack situations, such as a combination of multiple Loyalty Points-earning avenues intersecting and combining with Citi Merchant Offers. Other chances to stack deals help, as well. Stacking deals could be a combination of the American Airlines Shopping Portal and SimplyMiles, or it could look like one of those two combined with a cash-back opportunity.
Even for those who don’t fly with American Airlines or its Oneworld partners regularly, AA status still can be rewarding when combined with status match opportunities. You can try to earn that desired status “organically.” But gaining status by playing the Loyalty Points game and then executing a status match to your desired airline might be an easier way to earn status with that desired airline.
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