I had written off American Airlines’ new Loyalty Points, and frankly, the airline until I found this way to cheaply and quickly earn status and points.
Loyalty Points Switch From Advantage
In the last five to ten years, the American Airlines AAdvantage, no Advantage, sorry, Loyalty Points has gone from status accrued through miles and segments flown, to money spent directly on airfare. Required spending levels began at a staggering $10,000 on flights only (no taxes, fees, nor ancillary charges) and rose to nearly double that in five short years.
As covered here (and everywhere else) Loyalty Points replaced that program but so disincentivized new entrants to the program that starting from scratch and earning status solely from flying on American Airlines would now cost more than $27,000 to earn Executive Platinum.
Through all of the program changes, the crack management team at American Airlines Loyalty Points still couldn’t find a better naming convention than Gold and three variances of “Platinum.”
It “simplified” the program stating that “almost” every point earned is redeemable and counts toward status qualification but excluded Aadvantage credit card offer sign-up bonuses. Rest assured, cardholders will still earn for credit card spending, just not the initial lump-sum bonus and some bonus categories won’t count but you’ll always secure base miles, sorry, old habits die hard, you’ll earn Loyalty Points for the base amount.
Where the loyalty program gets stronger is in transactional partners like Aadvantage eShopping (online shopping portal) which earlier this year had an unbelievable incentive awarding an aadvantage mile earned (this was right before it switched to Loyalty Points) for 0.42¢/per point. Earning through the Aadvantage Dining program is another quick way to accrue lots of points toward status for meals members were already going to buy.
The membership year started later than usual for the program this year beginning in April as opposed to January.
Despite being loyal to the carrier for nearly half my life and accruing more than half a million miles with the airline (I wasn’t always an elite flyer), I jumped ship long before Loyalty Points were introduced. The announcement did nothing but affirm my decision.
Until this week.
Earning Through A Forgotten Channel
Until a recent post in a Facebook group popped up, I had forgotten RocketMiles altogether – written them off years ago as I favored Hyatt and Hilton loyalty and chase lifetime status. There’s a new Facebook group dedicated to finding Loyalty Point earning opportunities.
Quick primer on Rocketmiles: Rocketmiles is a third-party hotel booking site. They make a commission for every room they sell and because the rates do not have to honor hotel status benefits nor accrue status, the commission rates are higher. RocketMiles shares a significant portion of that commission in the form of miles or points of the booker’s choosing from a selection of participating programs.
In the past, these points would not have counted for American Airlines’ status as the points earned were redeemable miles. However, with the change to Loyalty Points, these count the same as buying an airplane ticket.
Here are some great examples of how many points can be accrued through RocketMiles for a single stay.
There are better deals, these are just some of the quick results I was able to secure. Your search may result in more or fewer Loyalty Points and as the rate is connected to the commission RocketMiles will make, the points will fluctuate with the cost of the hotel and the commission paid.
In my cursory searches, 30,000 Loyalty Points could be accrued for just over $1,000. Why is that important? Because entry-level Gold status begins at that amount. For that amount, flyers become eligible (though unlikely to receive) domestic upgrades, free checked bags, priority seating with extra room, and a higher earning rate on flights.
Similarly, Executive Platinum could be secured for between $5,000 and $7,600 depending on the deals found. But what is the value proposition of those statuses and points accrued?
|Status Level||Loyalty Points Earned||Value of Loyalty Points||Complimentary Upgrades||Lounge Access / Baggage Fee Waiver||Upgrade Instruments||Total Value|
For these valuations, I considered the cost of upgrades if purchased through the former “sticker” 500-mile upgrade system and likelihood of them clearing. For checked baggage fees, I assumed how much a mostly casual flyer would garner from the first two levels and a slightly more advanced flyer for Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum levels.
Additionally, I applied the cost of confirmed upgrades ($350 + 25,000 points – though I didn’t include the spending of those points in my equation) for upgrades and $50 for oneworld Airlines lounge access based on just a couple of visits.Both of these higher levels have “elite choice rewards” and in this example, I have assigned both of those choices to eVIPs or systemwide upgrades.
Executive Platinum appears to be the highest return on investment however, that would also require a significant amount of spend and lots of nights in hotels. Even at the base level, Gold, there is a great return on investment.
For those that have a few business-funded hotel stays, Gold status is a no-brainer. Even for very casual travelers, Gold is a great option simply because it offsets so many fees and eliminates the cost of seating assignments. For those who are on the road enough to earn Executive Platinum status – even on their own dime, this method would still involve significant hunting for the right opportunity and would sacrifice the potential for Hilton Diamond status (through 30 stays or 60 nights) or 2/3rds of Hyatt Globalist status.
I’m unwilling to sacrifice either of those hotel statuses in favor of this method, but I will likely grab Gold with some opportunistic stays and see value all the way to Platinum.
What do you think? Will you use this method to get free or nearly free status on American Airlines? Do you have a better method?