Can You Buy Elite Qualifying Miles To Make Elite Status with American Airlines?

American Airlines RJ 190

Airlines have been seducing travelers to get them to fly during Covid-19, from deeply discounted flights to offering Covid-19 tests at airports to skirt 14-day quarantine restrictions. Airlines are also tweaking their frequent flier programs to make it easier for travelers to reach a higher tier status, like American Airlines, who offered an incredible program this year. American is one of few airlines that lets travelers buy elite qualifying miles (EQM) to reach elite status for 2021 — but it’s a steep price.

American Lock in Elite Status

Last week, I received an email from American Airlines to “lock in elite status.” This offer was an opportunity to boost my Aadvantage Gold Status to Platinum status, which is valid through January 31, 2022. This opportunity gives the option to buy American elite qualifying miles (EQM) to make status with a combination of AAdvantage miles and cash. However, the minimum spend? $895 or 89.5K miles.

Pay for American Aadvantage status

With American, I presently have 24,643 elite qualifying miles (EQM) flown this year. This means, to reach Platinum, minimum of 30,000 miles, I would need a mere 5,357 miles to qualify. I spent $3,702 elite qualifying dollars, and for the $4,000 qualifier, I would need to spend about $300 to make it as well.

Now, for those 5,357 miles I need, $895 is a lot of money, but it’s not unreasonable. If I didn’t just outright pay, I would have to fly an equivalent of two NYC to LA flights to get those miles, and I only have less than 2 months to do it. American absolutely knows about mileage runs, and how people will make every effort to make status, so they’re not going to make it easy for anyone. The $895 fee to get Platinum status isn’t a deal; American is merely offering convenience.

The other option is spending 89,000 miles to earn status next year. That’s basically three free round-trip flights I would sacrifice.

Or I can combine both miles and money to get to Platinum status. For instance, I could use 41,000 miles + $485.

What would Platinum even get me?

A lot of benefits and comfort, including upgrade privileges (48-hour upgrade window), 60% mileage bonus, complimentary Main Cabin Extra Seats and Preferred seats, 2 free checked bags, priority baggage, priority lanes and one world Sapphire Status. Sapphire is the most compelling benefit. You have access to priority check-in, boarding and standby on international flights, and you get access to Business Class lounges internationally.

American Plantium Status Perks

Is it worth it?

Yes. I like the comfort of knowing I have all these benefits when I fly. I have been a Platinum member with American for many years because these benefits are great, but I only reached Gold this year because I haven’t flown since March 2020.

In comparison of tiers, Platinum gives travelers a lot more love than Gold. Gold is the lowest tier, meaning for upgrades and better seats, you’d be the last to pick (24 hours in advance, if they are not all taken). You do get 40% mileage bonus, but no priority boarding, security or bag delivery or complimentary same-day flight change.

However, due to Covid-19, and the uncertainty of a vaccine or the state of the airline industry for 2021, I’m not sure how often I’ll be flying, whether fare will significantly go up when it’s safe to fly, and I don’t know if I’ll be traveling internationally. So, it’s a big gamble to spend almost $1000 for Platinum status.

Did you buy EQM to make status with American Airlines? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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