AAdvantage 2017 Changes: EQD Credit Card Fast Track & Concierge Key Formalized

A few months back American announced some changes to the AAdvantage program for 2017, including the introduction of a fourth elite tier (Platinum Pro, which requires 75,000 elite qualifying miles), the addition of a revenue requirement for status, adjusting upgrade priority, the addition of upgrades on award tickets for Executive Platinum members, and more.

Well, today American is announcing some other changes to the AAdvantage program for 2017. But don’t worry, unlike many of the other changes, they’re not actually bad, and some of you might even like them.

american-elite

Get an EQD fast track through credit card spend

Starting in 2017, earning status will require both earning a certain number of elite qualifying miles, and also earning a certain number of elite qualifying dollars. Essentially you’ll need to spend an average of 12 cents per flown mile (pre-tax) in order to qualify for a status tier, which is high.

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

The big question has been whether there would be an option to get that revenue requirement waived through credit card spend. For context:

  • With Delta, all elite qualifying dollar requirements can be waived by spending $25,000 on a Delta Amex Card
  • With United, elite qualifying dollar requirements can be waived for Silver, Gold, and Platinum members by spending $25,000 on a United Chase Card

With American the addition of a waiver like this seemed much less certain. American Express and Delta have a close relationship, and Chase and United also have a close relationship. However, the relationship between Citi and American doesn’t seem to be as strong, as we recently learned when American announced that they’ll have cards issued by both Citi and Barclaycard going forward.

American has just announced that you’ll be able to get a shortcut to status by spending money on American’s co-branded Barclaycard products, as follows:

  • AAdvantage Aviator Red, Aviator Blue, and Aviator Business Mastercard accounts can earn up to $3,000 EQDs by spending $25,000 on qualifying net purchases during the calendar year
  • AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard accounts can earn up to $6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on qualifying net purchases each calendar year; they’ll earn $3,000 EQDs after spending $25,000 on qualifying purchases and another $3,000 EQDs after $50,000 on qualifying purchases

In other words, at most you can earn $6,000 EQDs by spending $50,000 on the AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard.

To answer the logical follow-up questions:

  • It should once again be possible to sign-up for AAdvantage Barclaycard products in January 2017 (there are many existing cardmembers, but they haven’t been taking new applications for a while)
  • As of now there are no plans to offer any EQD waivers or fast track opportunities through Citi cards
  • A member can earn at most $6,000 EQDs per year; in other words, you can’t spend $25,000 on the Aviator Red and $50,000 on the Aviator Silver to earn $9,000 EQDs

The other interesting wrinkle in all this is that starting at some point next year American will change how upgrade priority works. Currently upgrades are prioritized based on status and then by time of booking, while going forward they’ll be prioritized by status and then your 12-month rolling elite qualifying dollar total.

In other words, even if you’d qualify for a status level anyway, it could make sense to spend on a card just to have a higher EQD total, since you’ll receive higher priority for upgrades.

American-Business-Class-A321 - 3
Upgrades will soon be prioritized by your annual EQD total with the airline

Concierge Key will become a formal AAdvantage tier

There has been speculation surrounding this for a while, and it’s now official. Starting in 2017, Concierge Key will be a formal tier in the AAdvantage program. This means that Concierge Key members will get priority (with upgrades, standby, etc.) ahead of Executive Platinum members.

However, as of now there are no other changes in benefits, and there are no plans to publish the qualification criteria for earning Concierge Key.

This is a fair change, and I don’t think it’ll have a huge impact on Executive Platinum upgrades or standby priority, as there aren’t that many Concierge Key members.

For those of you not familiar with American’s invitation only Concierge Key status, see this post for details on the perks.

American-Flagship-Lounge-New-York-04
Concierge Key members have access to American’s Flagship check-in facilities

Bottom line

Frankly I wasn’t expecting to see any sort of credit card EQD fast track opportunity for 2017, so I consider this to be good news. Unfortunately American’s credit card EQD waiver isn’t as good as Delta’s, which lets you waive the revenue requirement for all status levels for just $25,000 of spend.

However, for many this will be better than United’s. United doesn’t let credit card spend count towards the Premier 1K revenue requirement at all, so at least with American you get 25-50% of the way there through credit card spend.

As far as formalizing Concierge Key status goes, that’s only logical, and follows United’s lead. I’m not surprised to see that, and don’t think the impact will be too big for others.

Will you be taking advantage of American’s credit card EQD fast track opportunity?

Comments

  1. Anyone who can hit EXP with $6000 in travel spend I could care less since Ill always be ahead of you on the upgrade list with the new policies going into effect. I spend $30K per year on American and not a dollar on their Credit card. Ill never understand why they would want to give someone a shortcut to status for using their card. Totally against all the revenue crap they have been launching. After selling the miles (and having to account for the miles you get ) and collecting fees, how much do they really make off $25K in spend? $200?? $300? and thats worth giving someone EXP who spent half the $$ flying them as someone else. WOW! As for Concierge Key, I thought it was smart to keep them with EXP since YOU NEVER KNOW how to earn the status!! So now they have copied the other airlines! congrats American! Copy again! and again!

  2. I have the Barclaycard Silver Aviator – can I assume the existing 10,000 EQM after spending $40,000 is still intact? If so, it is good news!

  3. thinking of purchasing a QR fare today during the business class fare sale for flying next year.
    Would this ticket earn EQDs for next year as the flight is next year?

  4. @ Nick — Not sure where you’re getting the “good” from? What I do think is:
    — This is better than them not offering anything, which is what I had speculated would happen last month
    — This is better for top tier elites than United’s system

    Otherwise it’s not as good for Platinum or Platinum Pro members as the systems offered by Delta and United.

  5. Will Barclay’s be issuing the Aviator Silver in 2017 or will that be available only through upgrading from the Aviator Red?

  6. @lucky This is terrible for top-tier elites it dilutes executive platinum. The point of EQD was to weed out people who are spending five cents a mile and earning status.

  7. Anyone know if the Citi Executive Advantage Mastercard will maintain its policy on spending $40K a year gives 10K of EQMs?
    And, btw, I agree with @Ryan.

  8. Ben, thanks for this overview. Two quick questions;

    1. Does payment for an AAdvantage member’s ticket by a third-party qualify for the spend requirement?
    2. Does the Barclaycars provide any EQMs like the 10K for the citi Mastercard?

  9. @ Sarah — It’s the same definition used by other cards, so in other words cash advances, returns, etc., wouldn’t qualify. Otherwise you’re good.

  10. @ Larry H — As far as the first question goes, it sure does. It doesn’t matter who pays for the ticket. The Aviator Silver offers 10K EQMs after spending $40K, and I haven’t heard of that changing.

  11. Curious if we will see another award chart devAAlue when AA adds Premium Economy into the award chart or will they slot this between business and economy?

  12. Am I just being dense – it looks like AA is putting the Citi AAdvantage cards out to pasture, correct?

    You’ll need to meet the EQD requirement for status, but – “At this time, you cannot earn EQDs through your Citi® / AAdvantage® card.”

  13. Thanks, Ben. Please let us know if you hear that Barclaycard is taking new credit card applications from AAdvantage members.

  14. Does anyone know how to calculate their current EQD spend just for reference? I think I would meet it but am not sure since I have work and personal travel with no easy way to add it up. Call AAdvantage Customer Service?

  15. If Citi doesn’t offer the same deal on EQD, it’s hard to imagine keeping it (or acquiring it, signup bonus not withstanding) unless you need an additional 10,000 EQM and can meet card spend of an additional $40K.

  16. There are a lot more CK’s than you think. This will be a big impact out of DCA – where many times I have been upgraded over CKs since there status is same as EXP.

    Now CK becomes a separate status – and a CK can be someone who doesn’t even travel 100K EQM. And now they will be ahead of EXP. And many CKs have been given that status because of corporate contracts – not individual spend.

    Not good in my view for EXPs.

  17. Also – looks like upgrade priority based on rolling 12 months spend has been delayed past Jan 1, 2017. Just says “Later in 2017” now.

  18. @Randy. An AA FA friend told me a few years back that there were around 10,000 CK and 50,000 EXP. I don’t know if those numbers still hold.

  19. I am sooo excited that working for many years for lifetime platinum status got devalued (along with the miles a few months back). FU AA.

  20. @Donna – that number of CK’s is much higher than I would have thought. That is 20% of the number of EXPs. I have been on flights with several CKs.

  21. Most CK members don’t qualify based on spend, they qualify simply by being near the top of global corporate contracts. Also, the two extra SWUs/eVIP upgrades aren’t given anymore.

  22. @Lucky – You said you “consider this to be good news” in your bottom line. Even with your constant caveating of any opinion, a waiver requiring twice as much spend for half the benefit as compared to the competition is not “good news” when the same competition allowed a full waiver on day one.

  23. The ratio of CKs looks spurious to me. I’ve only even been on a flight with another CK a handful of times. They are easy to spot since they are often preboarded, or met at the exit. Sometimes ground staff come onboard to check you are ok. You see EXP tags all the time by comparison. I’d think there are 20x or more EXP than CK.

    In any case, many CK are high spenders, which puts them above EXP on EQD. The others (travel influencers) fly infrequently anyhow, so won’t be taking many upgrades.

    The bigger news is that with EQDs, EXPs are not created equal. Those with a high yearly spend will jump to the top of the line.

  24. I consider this bad news. While I think it is ok to earn miles on credit card spend, I believe elite status should be earned by flying on revenue tickets. I go out of my way to fly AA each year to maintain EXP status. I don’t like that people can fast track by using a credit card.

  25. Lucky (or anyone), am I missing something when comparing AA and One World vs. United and Star Alliance? It appears you earn EQDs for AA on alliance member flights such as QR for example, meanwhile you do not earn ANY EQDs for UA when flying an alliance partner like NH? I know you get miles if it is a United codeshare or booked through UA with ticket code beginning in 016, but otherwise nothing?

  26. RC – that is correct. United is the absolute worst among the US3 on this. Both AA and DL have a (basically identical) formula to deal with the issue of OAL ticket stock. This includes OAL marketed flights on AA metal (not sure about DL). The only positive with UA is that, with some work and push, you can get basically any *A flight plated on 016 stock. AC, on the other hand, has a 014 or metal requirement and is tough to get to work, even using things like the ITA matrix.

    I think this is a decent solution to the issue of whether to allow waivers up through top tier. It cuts down the needed EQD, while not acting as a full waiver. It also helps with the new, pretty stupid, rolling EQD issue.

  27. You have to book through a United booking channel. The easiest way is to build an itinerary on Google Flights that has at least one United segment. You can also do a phone reservation.

  28. I have the Citi MC with the 10K EQM feature after $40K spend. Do all the purchases on the card count towards the EQD “qualified spending” that counts for upgrade priority? Or are AA ticket purchases the only qualified spending?

  29. My gosh @Ryan, if your spending $30K on AA already, why on earth would you need to be on an upgrade list? You talk like a child when you say, and I qoute:

    “Anyone who can hit EXP with $6000 in travel spend I could care less since I’ll always be ahead of you on the upgrade list with the new policies going into effect.”

    Comments like that are childish. Have a tantrum elsewhere and grow a pair!

    “I pity the fool…”

  30. I just was approved for the card – and after calling them I was told that there was no way to earn the EQDs at this point. They only offered extra EQMs. Card isn’t worth much to me if it doesn’t push me over the EQD requirement – that is the only thing I struggle with each year – I fly at least 120K+ in EQMs. Anyone know any different?

  31. @Marc – did you get Aviator Red or Aviator Silver? I think EQD only come with Silver.

    Anyone — as I understand, you need Aviator Red for 90 d, then can ask for upgrade to Silver.
    Does the spend done on Red count toward the annual spend on Silver, or does it reset when you change to Silver? This would impact how aggressively I spent on Red in the first 90 d.

  32. @CTee – I got the Aviator Red. My understanding is that the only way to get the Silver is to start with the Red. When I contacted the representative she said that after I made my first purchase and paid the annual fee that I could request a product change to the Silver. However, the representative could not find any documentation suggesting that you could earn EQDs on either product.

  33. @ CTee – thanks for the link!!

    From the website… “EQDs earned as a result of this benefit will typically be posted to the primary cardmember’s AAdvantage® account 6-8 weeks after meeting the spend requirement.”

    So what happens when you reach the minimum spend in December, 2017? Will the EQDs count for 2017 or 2018?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *