American Airlines Rolls Out Offers To Buy Higher Elite Status For Cash

Every year, for many years – perhaps two decades – American Airlines offers the opportunity to buy status to members who haven’t quite requalified, and in recent years has offered an opportunity to buy up to the next level as well.

The offer is back this year, at around the same time, but just feels different. Didn’t requalifying for status based on your flying this year? Your status is being extended anyway. So the only relevant question is whether you want to buy up to a higher level.

One AAdvantage member without current elite status was offered Gold for $1500. A current Gold member I heard from was offered Platinum status for $1095. American lets you buy status with miles instead of money, at a penny apiece in value, so the buy up to Platinum would have cost 109,500 miles.

Specific prices vary, and sometimes change (usually the price of buying back status has fallen in the past as you wait and perhaps fly more during the rest of the year). Overall offers seem expensive, but can actually make sense under certain conditions. Check if you have an offer here.

  1. How much status benefits are worth to you?
  2. How much you’ll use those benefits next year?

My general rule is that if you’re going to fly more in the coming year than when you earned your status, you’ll likely get good use of the benefits.

And a buy up offer has the virtue of not requiring you to spend time or money mileage running to earn the higher status. Whether a paid status offer is worth it compared to flying to earn status (mileage run), you need to factor not just how expensive it would be to fly the miles required for status but assign a value to your time as well.

Paid offers can even work out to be less expensive than flying and spending enough to earn status (depending on how far away from status you are), even with this year’s reduced requirements:

Qualifying metric Executive Platinum Platinum Pro Platinum Gold
EQMs 60,000 45,000 30,000 15,000
EQSs 60 45 30 15
EQDs $9,000 $6,000 $4,000 $1,500

Remember that $1500 offer for Gold? Someone that hasn’t flown at all this year would still need to spend $1500 on airline tickets and actually fly. So the buy up offer is the better deal, even if someone without status who hasn’t flown may not be likely to value status in the first place.

As a general matter I don’t think these offers are worth it for most people. First-tier benefits are largely replicable with just a credit card, and it can be cheaper to buy the benefits you’ll use on an a la carte basis – save the cash and spend money for better seat assignments, for instance.

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. They do this every year (along with DL) and every year I look at how much they want and say ” no way ” . My Gold status along with my wife’s Platinum (normally EXP but well who is really traveling) will suit us fine for the coming year.

  2. It’s all worthless. There are no extra seats so you won’t get bumped up to first class unless you are a Platinum Elite member. It makes no sense to pay any money to be a gold member now

  3. Why pay for gold when you can just pay $99 for the citi or barclays credit card and get better perks.

  4. Yeah, my offer is $295 for gold, although I can fly one or 2 more domestic flights and just earn it anyway. Seems pointless, though. I still can’t even get into the lounge if Im first class on a domestic flight, gold doesn’t help either. I’ll stick with remembering I’m too poor to reach that tier anytime soon

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