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2017 brings new hurdles to qualify for AAdvantage elite status, and along with them, American is adding ways to meet them with credit card spending.
For 2017 elite status, you’ll need to earn enough Elite Qualifying Miles or Segments AND enough Elite Qualifying Dollars, which represent how much you spend on airfare with American Airlines and partners each year. So you’ll have to both fly enough and spend enough on American and partner flights to earn elite status.
Here are the requirements:
And here’s how the credit card earning works to fast track your way to status.
There are two cards that can earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) – the Citi Executive AAdvantage ($450 annual fee) and Barclaycard Aviator Silver ($195). If you already have a Citi Executive AAdvantage or Barclaycard Aviator Silver you’re familiar with this, and nothing has changed here.
If you decide to hold both cards, you can earn up to 20,000 EQMs a year via credit card spending: 10,000 EQMs via the Executive AAdvantage and 10,000 via the AAdvantage Aviator Silver.
You’ll have to spend $80,000 a year on your credit cards to earn the full 20,000 EQMs, but it’s possible. The Executive AAdvantage includes Admirals Club membership for its $450 annual fee, while the Aviator Silver has a $195 annual fee and an annual companion certificate.
Note: If you want an Aviator Silver, you’ll need to first apply for and open an Aviator Red card ($95 annual fee). Once you’ve had your Aviator Red for 60 days, you can request an upgrade to the Silver.
Now that Elite Qualifying Dollars (the amount you spend on airfare) is a requirement for reaching all elite levels, American is adding a way to earn some via your credit card spending.
American will only let you earn Elite Qualifying Dollars if you have one of the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator credit cards.
There’s no option to earn Elite Qualifying Dollars with a Citi card.
Here’s how that works…
There are four different Aviator cards that earn EQDs – the Red (which is the most common card, with a $95 annual fee and free checked bag), Blue (with a lower fee but no free checked bag), Business, and Silver (with a $195 annual fee and an annual companion certificate, plus the ability to earn BOTH EQMs and EQDs).
Just be aware you can’t earn Elite Qualifying Dollars from both a Red and Silver account. You must earn it entirely with one card type, so you can only earn up to $6,000 EQDs via card spending each year.
For example, you can’t spend $25,000 on an Aviator Red card and $50,000 on an Aviator Silver to earn $3,000 + $6,000 EQDs. You’re capped at $6,000 EQDs from putting $50,000 on the Aviator Silver.
That’s a little different than earning Elite Qualifying Miles via card spending, where you can stack the EQM earning from both the Barclaycard Aviator Silver and Citi Executive AAdvantage.
And again, if you want an Aviator Silver, you need to first open an Aviator Red account and after 60 days you can request an upgrade to the Silver.
Putting all the thresholds together, here is what you need to spend on AAdvantage credit cards to earn PQMs and PQDs:
(these are total amounts you earn from the spending, so for example, $40,000 on an Aviator Silver gets you two 5,000 EQM bonuses that equal 10,000 total).
If you max out the spending to earn bonuses across all the cards ($50,000 on an Aviator Silver and $40,000 on an Executive AAdvantage, which nets you 20,000 EQMs and $6,000 PQDs), here’s how much you’ll need to earn from flying to reach each AAdvantage elite tier:
Of course, its unlikely you’re going to spend enough on credit cards to earn the max possible EQMs and EQDs from card spending, but that’s an illustration of how far you can take it.
More likely you’re going to fall into one of two camps. You’re either short on EQMs, in which case the Executive AAdvantage and Aviator Silver will get you up to 20,000 EQMs.
Or you’ll be short EQDs in which case a basic $95 a year Aviator Red card will get you up to $3,000 in EQDs and the pricier $195 Silver will get you up to $6,000 in EQDs.
But you can use any of the spending combinations above to bridge your elite qualifying gap.
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