Claiming My First American Elite Rewards Milestone

A month ago American AAdvantage announced an exceptionally generous 2013 ‘elite rewards’ program offering choices of additional rewards for reaching milestones between the various elite qualifying levels.

Unlike in past years, the offerings are based on miles flown and not just the more revenue-based ‘points’ system and in addition all members are eligible to earn rewards at each milestone rather than just earning rewards for exceeding requalification for their current status level.

Put another way, an Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer) like me can earn rewards after 40,000 and 75,000 miles — not just after 125,000 and 150,000 miles flown.

This afternoon I received an email prompting me to login to the Elite Rewards page to claim my 40,000 mile threshold bonus.

The choices after flying 40,000 miles, earning 40,000 points, or flying 45 segments are:

I actually had a difficult time claiming my reward. I would log in, select my choice, and when I would confirm I was taken back to the login screen — several times. Instead of using Google Chrome, I tried again with Internet Explorer and everything worked fine. I don’t know if I was doing something else wrong earlier, but the request processed with a new browser.

I figure that a 10% discount might save me $50 – $75. That’s real, but not the most valuable choice for me.

As an Executive Platinum I don’t need 500-mile upgrades (since Executive Platinums get complimentary upgrades, while lower tier status levels do not). Others who are regularly trying to upgrade companions with them would, since companion upgrades aren’t free. I thought about grabbing these for future use, as they don’t expire, but I don’t know what will happen post-merger with US Airways — my guess is that they’ll adopt the complimentary upgrade model for all elites and 500 milers will be a thing of the past. Perhaps they’ll convert unused 500 milers into miles, perhaps they’ll just disappear. I don’t see these as a sure-fire store of value.

I don’t need Admiral’s Club day passes. I can redeem Business ExtrAA points (American’s small business program) for these any time I wish. I am a British Airways Gold so get lounge access (next year I will drop to Silver which still gains me that access) and I also have an American Express Platinum card which generates access.

That left miles and luggage delivery. I rarely fly with checked bags, and when I do it’s on long haul international trips for which I wouldn’t often fly American (I redeem for first class on premium international carriers when I can). So I doubt I’d use this savings.

While I do have plenty of miles — probably more than is wise — I still do place some value on them as a future store of value even if it’s only a penny, in which case they would still be my highest valued option although barely once I discount for time (that I’d use the last 10,000 miles a very long time in the future).

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. @Lark I will. I should be ~ 70k around the end of July/beginning of August. I’ve been flying other carriers too (not to mention two Asia award trips in F and a transatlantic award in J/F).

  2. I actually just got my 40k one today too. Had issues confirming as well- got a server error message frequently. I chose the 10k too, easily the best choice.

  3. I have 41K points YTD and it is telling me that I have not reached a threshold. Most of those points were earned flying OW partners, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Any idea?

  4. Hi Gary,
    Re the 500-mile upgrades,can you please explain the
    “complimentary upgrade model for all elites”.
    Michael in YUL.(Life time GOLD)

  5. I am having a bad day. Can’t find the promo code to register for the promo……… please

  6. @Gary. Would you put some info on person not have any status; Is going for status challenge a better option then getting status through regular miles flown? Would those going with status challenge still earn the bonuses of American Elite Status Milestone? Thanks.

  7. Got the email. After some trouble I claimed my 19k miles.
    Got a confirming email but the miles have not yet posted.

  8. Will cross 100K at end of this week; registered; no emails yet! 🙁

  9. I am bummed that it says only miles flown after date of registration apply

    Thanks Progapanda, Ironically, I just got the email today and saw the code.

  10. I am not writing anymore…….need glasses or something.

    Our Elite Rewards program is cumulative, so if you’ve reached Milestone 2, you’ve also reached Milestone 1. The program is also retroactive, so as long as you register by December 31, 2013, you qualify for rewards since January 1, 2013.

    Gary, please delete my posts as they are a waste of space

  11. Out of curiosity, now that you have largely switched over to AA, do you still (also?) maintain status with United or Delta / their alliances?

  12. Silly question, but I don’t think I’ve seen this answered anywhere before. If I am not currently an AA elite, am I then ineligible for these milestones / bonuses?

  13. @Jose – You have to be an AAdvantage member, register for the ELTA3 promotion and accumulate miles on your AAdvantage account. You do not have to start the year as an elite. Just fly enough this year to meet each threshold for the award. Sign into your AAdvantage account online and click on the Elite Rewards graphic on the main AAdvantage Account tab. That will show you what you have to do to earn the rewards.

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