American Airlines Elite Status Clearance Sale

American Airlines will let you buy back your status if you aren’t going to requalify. On the one hand it’s expensive. On the other if you were going to mileage run to reach the status level, this saves you time.

  • I genuinely don’t see the value of buying back Gold at all. Just get an AAdvantage co-brand credit card, and use the cash savings from the buy up offer to pay for Main Cabin Extra seats in advance instead of waiting until check-in.

  • Higher status seems questionable given how much American charges, though it depends on how you value the benefits and how much you will use them next year. If you’re going to be flying more in the future than you did in the year you’re failing to requalify then it could be something to consider.

American may realize their prices are too high, or at least that they have plenty of time to market to members in different ways. If a member doesn’t buy, why not put elite status on a clearance sale?

I’ve been flying American Airlines less this year, and haven’t yet requalified for Executive Platinum status. However I’ll reach that after my next trip which is already ticketed. In mid-November they sent me an offer to buy back my status for $2645.

Now there’s absolutely no way I was going to pay that much even if I wasn’t going to requalify. There’s also no reason to pay it right away, my current status runs through January 31. Why not wait? New information can always come up and affect plans.

  • New trips that would push someone over their status level
  • A change in life circumstance which means more or less travel next year, so the value of the status would change
  • American could decide to make changes to the program that mean status is less valuable

Giving an airline money later is almost always better than giving an airline money right away. Nowhere is that more true than with elite status buy backs — since they’re already discounting off of their initial prices.

I wouldn’t do $2645 but American wonders if I’d do $1895? I won’t but this is better at least.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I got an offer for about $1400 when I was at 98,500 EQMs. I could just buy a first class ticket to a short hop and earn 2000 EQMs like that, so that’s a no. Anyways, my Aviator 5000 EQMs showed up so no point now.

  2. I have a platinum select advantage MasterCard. Does this allow main cabin bookings in advance? Wirh a family of five this is why I’m super keen to retain American platinum.

  3. In October, I got a Platinum offer requiring 12,500 EQMs and $1,500 spend by 1/6. To date, I’m only at 3,847 EQMs and $371 EQDs. I have a trip over the holidays which I could take, but I can’t get the EQMs to work in coach and business class is too expensive. Is there any point in asking AA to extend the qualification date to 1/31?

  4. I don’t fly much so I’m happy with Gold and I only get that from flying business/first class. Back when it was US Air I did pay a decent amount but nothing close to what is mentioned here for top status in order to use the International upgrade. That was worth at least a few hundred to me.

    I couldn’t imagine paying $1800 for status in most circumstances.

  5. if you buy into the EXPLAT you’re going to be at the bottom of all other EXPLAT’s as far as upgrades as there is a formula tat takes into consideration how much you have spent last year, no?

  6. to me, the question about what I would pay to get/extend ex plat would be the price of SWU that I could get. I would definitely pay $350 – $400 for each swu. Maybe more.

  7. They aren’t discounting off your initial offer. The pricing is dynamic and adjusts as you continue to fly and get closer to requalifying organically. So it’s not a sale like you are portraying, it’s a change in the offer. An offer from mid-November when you are 15k EQM short is going to be more expensive than a recent offer when you are say, 3k EQM short. That makes business sense. Now if you wrote this as a “head’s up” to let people to know to wait because their offer might change, it would be useful. However, you wrote this as another dig at AA over their program.

  8. Last year I paid 1400 to retain Exec Plat. I was at about 95,000 and due to a rather major surgery, I knew I could not fly anymore in 2017 after Thanksgiving. Was it worth it? Eh…I found myself buying into first a lot more in 2018 simply because it didn’t cost that much more than economy. My upgrade success on economy tickets was ok, but several times I was #1 on the upgrade list and did not clear. This year I made Exec Plat with about 200 miles to spare. However that was due to double EQMs on those domestic first class flights and 2 roundtrip flights to Europe on partner airlines in business class. Right now I don’t see those Europe flights happening in 2019 (the one trip I have booked I’m using miles) so my likelihood of keeping Exec Plat in 2020 is slim. As I plan my travel for 2019, I am finding that AA is just not practical or feasible for trips to Alaska and Canada, and don’t get me started in trying to get to Croatia on a reasonable routing by using ANY oneworld airline. I think 2019 is the year I become a free agent.

  9. My wife was about 8,000 EQMs short of platinum when her first offer to buy into platinum was for about $1,800, which has now dropped to $695 now that she is 3,000 EQMs short. I was about 11,000 miles short of platinum pro when my first offer to buy into platinum pro was about $1,750, which has now dropped to $1,495 now that I am 6,000 EQMs short. For an $875 first class ticket to visit our daughter and grandchildren my wife easily reaches platinum, and with the same ticket I fall 400 miles short of platinum pro. I will take a short haul coach flight MIA-MCO r/t on a Saturday morning for $293 and I reach pro. We get real value for the $875 tickets (seeing family over the holidays). The only amount paid for no tangible travel value is the $293 I spend for status, plus a true total of 6 hours of my time (travel from home to MIA and back home from MIA) completed by noon on a Saturday. That cost is worth it, but the combined upgrades for us would not be worth the reduced current offer price of $2,190 for both of us.

  10. Your K-Mart logo is silly because, as you acknowledge, the buyback prices are not cheap. They want a high-end price for a pretty low-end benefit.

    Sometimes if you don’t requalify, they eventually comp you the status for a few months (now THAT is a blue light special) and give you an incentive offer to requalify for longer.

    It’s a shame that Gold now has a pretty sizeable spending requirement because, for a normal traveller who doesn’t get to excited about modest upgrades, Gold “works” well for AA travel. You can travel as a Gold without suffering too many of the indignities of modern USA domestic travel and get some useful perks. Access to decent seat assignments is a big one you don’t get with “credit card status.”

  11. Real world example, done today:

    Was short of my EP goal by 848 EQD. I was already at the EQM goal.

    AA initially had an EP buy-up offer of $1495, and then this week it was down to $1195 (Blue Light special!)

    BUT: I found that I could do DEN-PHX-DEN in First on Dec 22 for $932.79, leaving at 12:30 and getting back at 5:30. Which, btw, resulted in EXACTLY 848 EQD ! (… bringing me to exactly $12,000 EQD for the year).

    I saved about $250 overall.

    And yes, I could have saved a day and paid the $1195 (as the value of 4 Systemwide upgrades makes that a no brainer), but by booking the flight I will be getting 9,328 ff miles and 2796 CC bonus miles as well. So a quick 12,124 miles for that 5 hour hop. (… which is more miles that I received for my “Q” class SYD round trip earlier this rear.)

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