American Airlines Announces 5 Sets Of Choice Benefits For Elite Members

American Airlines AAdvantage elite status is now earned based on “Loyalty Points” – miles generated by a variety of activities from flying to credit card spend to online shopping and other partner engagement.

Generally the miles you earn from flying (from 5 to 11 miles per dollar, depending on status) and the base miles from other activities (like one mile per dollar spent on an AAdvantage credit card, or even as much as 40 miles per dollar earned through their shopping portal) are added to determine elite status. In most years the earning period will be March through February. However this year you have January 2022 through February 2023 (14 months) to earn elite status:

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

“Choice benefits” which have included things like bonus miles or confirmed international upgrades though require crediting at least 30 flights to an AAdvantage account. These benefits are earned at the 125,000 point level and above:

  • 125,000 points (Platinum Pro qualification)
  • 200,000 points (Executive Platinum qualification)
  • 350,000 points
  • 550,000 points
  • 750,000 points

As Zach Griff was first to flag, American has announced what these choice benefits are, and they are very similar to 2021.

125,000 Point Level (Platinum Pro)

At 125,000 Loyalty Points and a minimum of 30 flights, members can choose one of the following:

  • 1 systemwide upgrade
  • 20,000 bonus miles (25,000 for co-brand cardmembers)
  • 6 Admirals Club passes
  • $200 trip credit
  • Gift gold elite status
  • 15% award discount
  • $200 donation to an American Airline partner charity
  • Carbon offset

Generally speaking most carbon offsets don’t do much (they can even wind up increasing carbon emissions) and I haven’t done due diligence on American’s partner here. Regardless that and the $200 donation do not make sense to me – you should be able to generate more than $200 in savings from other choices, and then if you wish you can make a donation yourself to your own preferred charity, and even potentially receive a tax deduction for it.

Gold status isn’t worth a lot generally, it’s mostly a giveaway level with benefits like checked bags and boarding that come with the airline’s credit card.

I’d focus on the systemwide upgrade, bonus miles, or award discount.

  • I value AAdvantage miles at 1.3 cents apiece making bonus miles worth $260 – $325 (depending on whether you have an AAdvantage credit card)

  • A systemwide upgrade can certainly be worth more than that, saving you just as many miles plus a big cash co-pay compared to redeeming miles for an upgrade. But systemwide upgrades can be hard to use (American is really tight with advance confirmable upgrade space on desirable flights) and they do expire, while the validity of miles can be extended and used in more ways.

  • Though I think a 15% award discount can be underappreciated. If you have enough miles and redeem at premium prices the savings here can be huge. For instance American often charges 195,000 miles each way for business class between the U.S. and Sydney. A roundtrip award for two passengers might run 780,000 miles. That’s exorbitant, but consider that a 15% discount would then save you 117,000 miles!

In all likelihood I’ll wind up claiming the 15% award discount, but not that you’ll have at least a year to choose – you can hold back until you know what you’ll make the most use out of.

200,000 Loyalty Point Level (Executive Platinum)

At 200,000 Loyalty Points and a minimum of 30 flights, members can choose two of the following:

  • 20,000 bonus miles (30,000 for co-brand cardmembers)
  • 2 systemwide upgrades
  • 6 Admirals Clubs passes
  • $200 trip credit
  • $200 donation to an American Airline partner charity
  • Admirals Club membership (this counts as 2 choices)
  • Gift gold elite status
  • Carbon offset
  • Bang & Olufsen product(this counts as 2 choices)

The Bang and Olufsen products used to be one choice, but now require spending both choices at this level. And the major difference from last year is that there’s no longer an option for 10,000 elite qualifying miles (which might have been, perhaps, 20,000 loyalty points under the new scheme).

Generally here I’d select systemwide upgrades, though if you aren’t going to use those miles would be the default – though if you don’t have the premium Citi cobrand that comes with club access and you aren’t a Concierge Key member that gets it free an Admirals Club membership would be next-best.

350,000, 550,000, and 750,000 Point Levels

At each of 350,000, 550,000, and 750,000 Loyalty Points and a minimum of 30 flights, members can choose two of the following:

  • 25,000 bonus miles (no cobrand bonus)
  • 1 systemwide upgrade
  • 6 Admirals Clubs passes
  • $200 trip credit
  • Admirals Club membership (this counts as 2 choices)
  • Gift gold elite status
  • Gift platinum elite status (this counts as 2 choices)
  • $200 donation to an American Airline partner charity
  • Carbon offset

Platinum status is valuable for free extra legroom coach seats at booking and lounge access on international flights when traveling in economy. It might help a spouse travel better when they’re traveling solo (though I’d really like it if American considered adopting Air Canada Aeroplan-style ‘status passes’ to gift status for a day or trip.

If giving a family member status doesn’t make sense then a single systemwide or bonus miles works here, Concierge Key members should take the miles and Executive Platinums who travel internationally frequently and buy coach tickets should take the systemwides.

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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Comments

  1. LOL, I’m going for the carbon offset benefit. In fact, it’s the only reason I plan to fly 30+ segments and hundreds of thousands of miles is so I can help save the planet through the “Miles for our Planet” donation and carbon offset benefits. I only hope that gas that I buy from Flying J and BP via Simplymiles will put me over the top on this plan. #virtuesignal

  2. Does the 15% award discount apply only to the member who earned it or all on the itinerary.? I think I know the answer but am hopeful I’m wrong.

  3. We have not chosen our EXP benefits for 2021 as yet. One choice there is 10,000 EQM, and I read that this will become 20,000 LP come March. From what I see here, though, this will be the last year that there is such an offering. Might be more useful in a standard 12 month qualification year versus the current 14 month year. Oh well.

    Cheers.

  4. Hmmmmmm….seems like a downgrade as for receiving Systemwide Upgrades. In 2021 I received 4 SU’s (i.e., 2 round trips) when I reached Ex. Plat, and then 2 more when I reached 120,000 EQM and again with 160 EQM. I might make 200 EQM by the end of February for 2 more. Now, going forward, it appears that I would only be able to receive 4 SU’s when I qualify for Ex. Plat, (at 200,000 Loyalty Points) and then only 1 SU if I earn another 150,000 Loyalty Points, which appears to me that I would have to spend more $$ than the cost to fly and receive an additional 40,000 EQM’s for which I would receive 2 SU’s.

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