Is American Airlines Raising The Number Of Loyalty Points Required To Earn Status Next Year?

Citibank is surveying potential changes to its premium American AAdvantage credit card which comes with Admirals Club lounge membership. Generally they appear to be looking to raise the card’s $450 annual fee, and begin charging for authorized user cards (since those cards also grant lounge access). In the surveys I shared they’re playing around with partner offers – such as statement credits from Hyatt, Lyft, Avis, and DoorDash – to see whether those help them raise the card’s annual fee even higher.

Buried in the notes about benefits the card would offer for additional Loyalty Points after $40,000 and $90,000 spend in a year is a reference to a higher number of Loyalty Points associated with American Airlines Gold and Platinum status.

Here are the current number of Loyalty Points for each published status level:

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

You earn loyalty points not just flying American Airlines, but also spending on their co-brand credit cards, shopping through their portal, as well as numerous other partner transactions. And Citi is either hinting at higher requirements, phrasing their proposed card benefits inartfully, or misunderstanding the program that they’re promoting.

Here’s what survey language says,

40,000 Loyalty Points earns you AAdvantage Gold status…. At 90,000 Loyalty Points, you’ll have earned AAdvantage Platinum status

American may well raise status-earning thresholds. It is not too late to do so for 2023 since they’ve changed the status-earning year and it will not begin until March 1. A change to status levels is not clearly the case as a result of Citi’s language, though it’s suggestive, and it would not be surprising. The program is new and may need tweaking.

When the new program was rolled out, American said they expected the new program to mean more elites, especially at the lower tiers. It generates revenue from partners who buy Loyalty Points, and it encourages customers to collect AAdvantage miles to earn status – finally creating a reason to use AAdvantage co-brand cards for ongoing spend. This plan may be working too well if, as Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja reports, 65% of new status members in New York are achieving it on credit card spend. Pushing thresholds up would accomplish two things,

  • Force members to lean harder into partners like Citibank in order to earn status
  • Limit the number of members at each tier, controlling costs and allowing the program to more consistently fulfill benefits

Raising thresholds, though, would also discourage members who no longer found those thresholds within reach. Nonetheless, the levels almost have to go up at some point as a result of inflation alone. Buying the same items costs more money, charged to the credit card and purchased through the portal, and that means more Loyalty Points. Over time we’d expect a revenue-based program to increase its requirements roughly in line with inflation, at a minimum.

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 read that as spending $40,000 on the card earns you 40,000 loyalty points which entitles you to Gold status (since 40,000 loyalty points is greater then the tier threshold of 30,000 loyalty points), and that $90,000 in spend on the card earn you 90,000 loyalty points which entitles you to Platinum status (since 90,000 loyalty points greater than the their threshold of 75,000 points for Platinum status).

    I think they are trying to encourage people to reach the tier thresholds by showing them the status they would earn by having spent to reach those tier thresholds.

  2. “65% of new status members in New York are achieving it on credit card spend. ”

    I don’t think this means that 65% of new status members have LP only from credit cards, and no LP from flights. I think it means that 65% have a status they would not otherwise have, if they had no credit card LPs. So, for example, 20K from flying and 11K from the credit card to get Gold. Which is probably exactly what AA wants.

  3. Oh Alan, so negative 🙂

    This program is on fire as it is out pacing DL and UA enrollment and user survey results are high. We have flown 6 times this year (mostly trans con and London) and pushed all spending to the cards and are at Ex Plat (which is great for my wife since she will be traveling more next year).

  4. It would be like BA or Virgin raising the number of tier points to achieve tier status. Does sound right. And, seems quite odd that AA would be rethinking this given that we are only several months into the new system. I agree with JC1.

  5. If true, this would be the 5th straight year where AA announces a change in spend thresholds. Zero consistency to the game anymore

    Time to start crediting to another OW airline for sapphire/flagship access. Have a feeling it will take fewer flights and way less spend/games than what AA wants, plus get lounge access as a bonus

  6. Imagine corporate employees are mostly required to spend on corporate cards and while flying continues to increase, online meetings are becoming more ordinary and will likely continue. So how will this encourage AA flying since not likely to go above platinum or platinum pro. It could drive customers away from AA. I fly mostly international as EXP and SWU are important. I will not achieve EXP status at renewal based on loyalty points. While Profitable for AA customers may choose to switch to UA or BA for oneworld recognition.

  7. No no no..
    The $40k and $90k of spend are the Tiers (Tier 1 and Tier 2) to get a 10k Loyalty Point boost

    The current $40k is there (and similar boosts exists on the Barclays cards) and the $90k one is new.

    The language is once you get to this level of spend and unlock the loyalty point boost you get all these benefits. The number of LP correlate to a pretty high EQD equivalent spend already.

    If AA is worried about too many elites from partner spend, they would reduce the earn rate of Loyalty Points from certain partners. I see no point for them doing that. A credit card holder gets most of the benefits of Gold already, with the upgrades being the differentiator. Upgrades don’t cost the airline anything as they plan to sell for a TOD upgrade first. Most large credit card spenders are going to struggle to get to 30 segments to unlock loyalty choice awards .

  8. It looks like they are taking priority check-in and priority screening away too.

    This is positive if authorized users also receive full admirals club memberships. I am vehemently opposed to the coupon book, though. I wish the AA executive card would mirror the United Club card in earnings and benefits. Even a throwback to when the United Club card earned 1.5 miles per dollar.

  9. JC1 is correct, It’s pretty obvious they are saying what level of status you will be getting with that spend based on the current tier levels, not a new base tier level.

  10. Delta started this but all the airlines should just leave it. Status means less and less. It’s very difficult to get gate upgrades and that is the main benefit most want. Status costs them very little so why punish the loyal ranks.

  11. @ Gary — For 0 Loyalty Points, I can be Platinum and still buy all my first class tickets on my AMEX card. Sounds like a much better plan than spending $90,0000 on an AA credit card.

  12. I believe they should be careful of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, especially in regards to the high-level CITI card.
    Some of us have longer memories than others; I still remember CITI gutting its card of benefits other than the Admirals Club — and seemingly, getting away with it.
    Not sure up to ten additional members is appropriate, but a spouse absolutely should be included, else, I will likely bin the card and pay to enter the Admirals Club, knowing I have OW lounges when I travel internationally (OW Emerald).
    As it is, I am likely done with my Amex Platinum card on renewal. It’s just too expensive for benefits that don’t work. Their Centurian clubs are an absolute joke that I just don’t bother with any more. PHX on 10/1 was still crammed (and these weren’t business travellers either)with what looked like an emptied out homeless encampment. 8-person slow moving line for a drink, empty food trays and no cutlery. I went back to the AC.
    Premium cards need to provide REAL premiums for the fees they expect.

  13. When I took the Citi survery managed by Chadwick Martin Bailey back in June, when you clicked to take the survey – it ask you to answer qualification questions for the survey to activiate.

    You had to agree to keep all informatin confidential and not post it on websites and forums. Answering no would have kicked you out and not allowed you to take the survey.

    Looks like several, including Gary, violated that agreement. I guess Citi could cancel your Exec card.

  14. AA just massively devalued the earn rate on Avis and Budget rentals from a guaranteed min of 500pts per rental to a new points per dollar spent with no min gty.

    On a $49 one day rental that’s an 80% devaluation.

    They can easily do the same at any time with virtually no notice. What a game!

  15. I TOTALLY agree with the comments on here:

    ~ At least a SPOUSE should be allowed to enter with me. I spend ALOT with Citi. Give that 1 thing when my spouse travels with me 1-3 times a year. 1 AU should be FREE.

    ~ They are mentioning a BONUS you get at those spend levels, not the “new” requirement.

    ~ If CITI starts a coupon book, I’m jumping ship. PERIOD.

    I have both World Select and Executive Card with CITI. They had better watch out or I’ll move my spend to AMEX or Chase.

  16. I’ve been Ex Plat for years but sadly will not qualify any more. I don’t have the personal spend and don’t have the time to run after all the extra ways to put miles on the cards. Unfortunate. I am lifetime Platinum, thankfully – it would be nice for those of us with lifetime status if we could start annual earnings from that level.

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