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.

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