78 Bonsai Trees To Earn Executive Platinum Status

A frequent flyer shared their amazement that the purchase of 127 bonsai trees could earn them Executive Platinum status. But it’s actually much easier – and cheaper – than that.

Right now FTD (the florist) earns 20 American AAdvantage miles per dollar, and those count as “Loyalty Points” which determine elite status. However frequently they’ll offer 40 miles per dollar (one such offer just ended). There might even be a SimplyMiles deal for paying with a Mastercard. But even if there’s not, if you pay with an American AAdvantage credit card you’ll earn 41 Loyalty Points per dollar.

You need to spend $4878.05, then, at FTD to earn American AAdvantage Executive Platinum status when they run 40 miles per dollar.

  • Gold: 30,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points
  • Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points
  • Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points

Gold elite ‘costs’ just $731.71 in FTD spend under a 40 miles per dollar offer. And Bonsai trees are $63 apiece (plus tax and shipping). Twelve Bonsai trees to Gold and 78 Bonsai trees to Executive Platinum.

Earning AAdvantage elite status,

  • Is cheaper through online shopping than flying. A new member looking to earn Gold status would need to spend $6000 in airline tickets or $732+tax and shipping in Bonsai trees.

  • An Executive Platinum looking to requalify on flights alone would have to spend over $18,000 in airfare, or less than $5000+tax and shipping in Bonsai trees.

The key is going to be scouring SimplyMiles.com for card-linked offers and the AAdvantage shopping portal (and looking for offers that allow you to stack the two, buying through the shopping portal with a SimplyMiles offer you’ve added to a Mastercard).

Yesterday there was something better and cheaper than Bonsai trees for earning status. It was supposed to last through January 31 but pulled early, joining Motley Fool Stock Advisor for $79 earned 7400 AAdvantage miles and loyalty points. That was buying Loyalty Points at just over a penny apiece or ’94 loyalty points per dollar’ assuming you value Motley Fool stock advice at zero. (You may see the offer at $99, if so leave and return via AAsdvantage shopping or click on one of the other links on the page for the offer to get the $79 price to come back.)

You’ll still need to take at least 30 flights if you want choice rewards (like systemwide upgrades) starting at the Platinum Pro level, but redeeming AAdvantage miles for award travel on American counts for that, too.

This may all seem strange, and most people won’t take advantage of opportunities to earn status at the lowest cost this way. but it underscores the point that activities other than flying are simply higher margin for the airline that traveling in a metal tube between cities. So you earn 5 to 11 loyalty points per dollar spent on airfare (depending on elite status level) and 20 – 40 loyalty points per dollar sending flowers.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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’m confused. Is the Motley Fool offer pulled or not? I do see one offer from your link offering 3700 miles for a year subscription.

  2. Thanks for this article. I think bonsai trees are a perfect gift for flight attendants instead of “job well done” certificate.

  3. I’m throwing so much at the wall right now to see what sticks. I think I’ve potentially earned 20k loyalty points since January 1 assuming everything I think happens does. I have questions about what stacks and what doesn’t, but I think I’m out around $300 plus I get a whole lot of meal ready and subscription kits to use until the Omicron wave subsides.

    I just have to remember to cancel all the subscriptions or else I’m spending a lot more than I needed to!

  4. Longtime AA flyer here and was EP for many years. Now retired and lifetime Platinum w somewhere between 3 and 4 million miles earned. I pretty much gave up on upgrades due to holding back for sale and dilution of Platinum w Platinum Pro added (plus so many easy ways for people to earn status). I fully understand AA’s approach to boost use of their cards and partners. However, this will dramatically increase the number of EP, Platinum Pro and Platinum members so good luck for any of you (even EP) getting upgrades. As I said I gave up and am fine w pre-booking main cabin extra, preboarding and the occasional upgrade but many will be very disappointed.

    Also, if this leads to a huge increase in points in your account (still trying to figure out how loyalty points impact account points – maybe none if loyalty points only replace EQMs) expect devaluations.

    Oh well I’ll adapt and get some value out of my Platinum status and around a million miles I still have in my account.

  5. This game should be fun. Is there a forum or similar online channel devoted to discussing these types of deals? (Flyertalk doesn’t seem like the most efficient channel for this..)

  6. No one knows how these will post.. will only the base spend count towards LP or will it include the bonus as well. I would be careful on spending $1000s of dollars before AA clarifies.

  7. @ZG – I’m not sure what you mean by ‘no one knows’ — the miles per dollar offered through the AAdvantage Shopping Portal count. I even verified with AA that the double the normal rate of miles from Motley Fool would all count as loyalty points.

    There may be a lack of clarity among some websites and forums, but I’ve had several conversations with AA folks about how this works, tried out different scenarios with them, and they’ve confirmed to me in writing.

  8. does that mean those that got in on the millions of Simplymiles are automatically Exec Plat since those may have not all been credited?

  9. Hi Gary, I got in the offer for simply miles donation for $4,000. Credit card closed Jan 3rd. What would count for loyalty points in this case?

  10. As I was saying before, if other activities, like selling bonsai trees or Motley Fool subscription are “higher margin activities”, the banks or shopping portals will figure out how to do this better and cheaper without giving a cut to AA. Right now AA management is trying to “sell pudding” by printing AA miles – lets see how long such a business model lasts.

  11. AA has to do a lot more to ever get my business back. They’ve been awful the past 7 years and I don’t see or hear of any positive changes to sway my opinion.

  12. I can see the headline from USA Today now. “Bonsai Trees Moved to Endangered List as Covid Lockdown results in Hoarding in Massive Threat to the Planet”

  13. “ assuming you value Motley Fool stock advice at zero”

    This is the most accurate valuation I’ve seen in View From The Wing in a while

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