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How to earn 2017 AAdvantage elite status via credit cards

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This article was last updated Nov 09, 2016, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions has since changed, expired, or are no longer available.

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:

  • Gold: $3,000 AND 25,000 EQMs or 30 segments
  • Platinum: $6,000 AND 50,000 EQMs or 60 segments
  • Platinum Pro: $9,000 AND 75,000 EQMs or 90 segments
  • Executive Platinum: $12,000 AND 100,000 EQMs or 120 segments

And here’s how the credit card earning works to fast track your way to status.

Elite Qualifying Miles via card spend

There are two cards that can earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) – the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($450 annual fee) and Barclaycard Aviator Silver ($195). If you already have a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® or Barclaycard Aviator Silver you’re familiar with this, and nothing has changed here.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • Earn 10,000 EQMs after you spend $40,000 in purchases in a calendar year (January – December billing statement).
  • $450 annual fee includes full Admirals Club membership

aviatorsilver

AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®

  • Earn 5,000 EQMs after you spend $20,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • Earn 5,000 more EQMs (10,000 total) after you spend $40,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
  • $195 annual fee includes an annual discount companion ticket

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 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® 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 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® 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 AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll need to first apply for and open an AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® ($95 annual fee). Once you’ve had your Aviator Red for 60 days, you can request an upgrade to the Silver.

Elite Qualifying Dollars via card spend

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 two different Aviator cards that earn EQDs – the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® (which is the most common card, with a $95 annual fee and free checked bag),  and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® (with a $195 annual fee and an annual companion certificate, plus the ability to earn BOTH EQMs and EQDs).

AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®

  • Earn up to $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 in a calendar year

AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®

  • Earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • Earn $3,000 more EQDs ($6,000 total) after spending $50,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • These are on top of the EQMs you’ll earn from spending on the card

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 AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® card and $50,000 on an AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® to earn $3,000 + $6,000 EQDs. You’re capped at $6,000 EQDs from putting $50,000 on the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®.

That’s a little different than earning Elite Qualifying Miles via card spending, where you can stack the EQM earning from both the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® and Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

And again, if you want an AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®, you need to first open an AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® account and after 60 days you can request an upgrade to the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®.

How far can you go?

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 AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® gets you two 5,000 EQM bonuses that equal 10,000 total).

  • $20,000 = 5,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®
  • $25,000 = 5,000 EQMs and $3,000 PQDs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® or $3,000 PQDs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
  • $40,000 = 10,000 EQMs via Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • $40,000 = 10,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® and $3,000 PQDs
  • $50,000 – 10,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® and $6,000 PQDs
  • $60,000 = 5,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®($20k of spending on the Aviator) plus 10,000 EQMs via Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($40k of spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®)
  • $65,000 = 5,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® ($20k of spending on the Aviator) plus $3,000 PQDs ($25k of spending on the Aviator), plus 10,000 EQMs via Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($40k of spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®)
  • $85,000 = 10,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®($40k of spending on the Aviator) plus $3,000 PQDs, plus 10,000 EQMs via Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($40k of spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®)
  • $90,000 = 10,000 EQMs via AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®plus $6,000 PQDs ($50,000 in spending on the AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®, plus 10,000 EQMs via Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($40k of spending on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®)

If you max out the spending to earn bonuses across all the cards ($50,000 on an AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®and $40,000 on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, 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:

  • Executive Platinum: 80,000 flown EQMs and $6,000 flown EQDs
  • Platinum Pro: 55,000 flown EQMs and $3,000 flown EQDs
  • Platinum: 30,000 flown EQMs and $0 flown EQDs
  • Gold: 5,000 flown EQMs and $0 flown EQDs

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 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard® will get you up to 20,000 EQMs.

Or you’ll be short EQDs in which case a basic $95 a year AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® 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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