American publishes 2013 Elite Rewards — they’re AWESOME!!!!!!

The past several years American has offered Elite Rewards, which are designed to reward those that surpass the threshold needed for earning status. In other words, if you’ve already qualified for Executive Platinum it was something to incentivize you to keep flying American. You can read all about their 2012 Elite Rewards here.

The good news is that Elite Rewards are back in 2013, and they’re hands down better than ever before. First let me summarize them, and then let me go into a rant about why I love this to the point that I’ll sound like a crazed 12 year old girl trying to win a date with Justin Bieber.

Elite Rewards are based on the status you earn in 2013 towards the 2014 elite year. The rewards are as follows (and I’ll bold the rewards that I consider to be the best options):

Milestone 1

Qualification requirements: 40,000 miles or 40,000 points or 45 segments
Rewards: 10,000 bonus miles or three 500-mile upgrades or two Admirals Club one-day passes or free BAGS VIP luggage delivery or 10% discount

Milestone 2

Qualification requirements: 75,000 miles or 75,000 points or 80 segments
Rewards: 20,000 bonus miles or one systemwide upgrade or five 500-mile upgrades or four Admirals Club one-day passes or five single-segment Wi-Fi passes

Milestone 3

Qualification requirements: 125,000 miles or 125,000 points or 130 segments
Rewards: 30,000 bonus miles or two systemwide upgrades or gift of Gold status or Admirals Club membership or 20% discount

Milestone 4

Qualification requirements: 150,000 miles or 150,000 points or 160 segments
Rewards: 40,000 bonus miles or four systemwide upgrades or gift of Platinum status or Admirals Club membership or Global Entry fee waiver

Registration is required by December 31, 2013, and you have to make your selection by February 28, 2014. If you’ve already passed one of the thresholds look for an email in May with your first milestone selection options.

What this means

This is so much more generous than in the past. First of all, this year American is counting elite qualifying miles, points, or segments towards the thresholds. In the past they only counted elite qualifying points towards the threshold. If you’re someone that flies on discounted coach fares you only earn half a “point” per mile flown, so the thresholds were almost unattainable. Not this year.

Furthermore, in the past you’d only earn the milestone bonuses for the highest threshold you passed. The best way to explain this is that you’d only earn the first threshold if you didn’t qualify for Platinum, you’d only earn the second threshold if you didn’t qualify for Executive Platinum, etc. The intent was to give you an incentive to give your marginal business to American, and if you’re qualifying for a higher status level they’re already giving you an incentive to reach that threshold.

In other words, in the past as an Executive Platinum member I’ve only been eligible for the milestones starting at 125,000 points. So if I earned 100,000 elite qualifying points I wasn’t eligible for any bonus.

This year the milestones are cumulative. What does that mean? If you’re an Executive Platinum and qualify with 100,000 miles or points or 100 segments, you still get to choose rewards from milestones one and two. That’s 30,000 miles for free.

If you’re an Executive Platinum that qualifies with 125,000 miles or points or 130 segments, you get to choose rewards from milestones one, two, and three. That’s an additional 30,000 bonus miles for a total of 60,000 bonus miles.

And if you’re an Executive Platinum that qualifies with 150,000 miles or points or 160 segments, say hi to another 40,000 bonus miles, for a total of 100,000 bonus miles. Or if you prefer to mix up your rewards, for example, you could choose 10,000 bonus miles from milestone one, 20,000 bonus miles from milestone two, an Admirals Club membership from milestone three, and four systemwide upgrades from milestone four.

This is literally the most generous Elite Rewards program I’ve ever seen from any airline. If you’re a mileage runner, think of it this way — if you rack up 150,000 miles or points this year, you’re basically earning 267% redeemable miles for all your travel. That’s because you earn 100% of base miles flown, a 100% bonus for being an Executive Platinum member, and an additional 100,000 bonus miles for flying 150,000 miles.


Filed Under: American, Great Deals
  1. I assume this part of the t&c is not true?

    “Activity that occurred prior to registering for the promotion will not be included in qualifying for the bonus or incentive. For more details regarding this promotion, visit “

  2. @ Goosh — That’s just generic language on the registration page which isn’t specific to this promotion. The T&Cs of the actual promotion confirm that previous activity does qualify.

  3. Does it mean we may not see any DEQM promotion soon like end of last year? I’m actually counting on the DEQM system wide promotion like last year to push me over the EXP again..

  4. If you have already reached a milestone, look for your first reward notification email in May. Reward selection will continue through February 28, 2014.

    You must register by December 31, 2013, and choose your reward by February 28, 2014.

    You are welcome to one reward within each milestone for which you qualify.

    We will email you as you achieve each new milestone, notifying you to choose your reward.

    Our Elite Rewards program is cumulative, so if you’ve reached Milestone 2, you’ve also reached Milestone 1. The program is also retroactive, so as long as you register by December 31, 2013, you qualify for rewards since January 1, 2013.

  5. @ AC — I don’t necessarily think that this precludes a DEQM promotion. While I think it’s generally unlikely they’ll offer DEQM due to the merger and them not wanting to inflate elite ranks, I also think that any operational issues will result in such a promo, as we’ve seen in the past.

    So I don’t necessarily think we’ll see DEQMs this year, but I also don’t think it’s any less likely after today’s announcement…

  6. When I first read this, I thought it was basically a hint that it will be indeed 4 instead of 3 elite levels once the merger is finalized between USAir and AA. In the past, the levels were set at 3: Golds had to fly 40k to get the rewards, Plats had to fly 70k and Exec Plat had to fly 125. See the similarity here? But now, there is a 4th level – flying 150. While this could be seen as a once-off (rewarding people during this merger year coming out of BR), I think it shows that (as rumored and expected) a 4th elite level is all but a certainty (but at 125k or some other level??)

  7. @ Bob — Yep, definitely some interesting ways to interpret this. I tend to think they’re not far along enough in the merger process for any of these things to be decided, though I can definitely see how one would think so. The four tiers does indeed suggest there may be a four tier elite system, though at the same time the thresholds don’t make sense if that were the case.

    Interesting stuff…

  8. But those miles must be Butt In Seat or what? I mean the 75,000 means that you need to fly the actual 75,000. Normally EXP need to fly close to 50,000 miles to qualify (due to bonuses). Am I wrong assuming this?

  9. @ jorge — It’s actually more miles than that. The 100% bonus you earn for being an Executive Platinum member doesn’t count towards status — those are bonus redeemable miles.

  10. Would be interesting to see a mileage run cost benefit analysis. Assuming 3cpm at 150k miles for a cost of $4500, would the earned benefits outweigh that?

  11. dbest, if you are exec plat, you would earn 400K miles (if you just took the miles), which are worth roughly $8000 so I’d say YES! Even at 5cpm, that’s a great deal, since you have to factor in the automatic upgrades, the 8 evips are worth conservatively $2000, so that’s $10,000 in value/benefits…

  12. I think there is a chance that the 10% discount might be worthwhile depending on the terms and conditions. Most of the 5% and 10% coupons I have seen in the past are usually for travel dates that are within couple of months.If this coupon can be applied to any ticket and to all passengers on the same PNR then it could be a big savings. e.g. i was planning on going to Seoul and Shanghai next spring and also wanted to use my eVIP. If all 4 of us can get a 10% discount and the coupon is valid for any date over the course of next 330 days it can easily save over $400. Am I missing something?

  13. just so i am clear, if one traveled 150k miles on AA in 2013, you would earn 8 systemwides for EXP qualification AND 7 additional systemwides from this promotion, assuming those were your choices from 2, 3, and 4? A total of 15 systemwides?

  14. I would like to see if this could work for those who do not have BIS miles but still rack up miles for travelling. Like applying for a credit card, shopping through portals etc.

  15. If you were starting from scratch on AA and racked up 150,000 miles in 2013 and always chose bonus miles as your milestone bonus how many miles would you have at the end?

  16. I just opened 2 Citi AA cards and I am supposed to get 2 50k bonuses soon. Does it mean that I will also get extra 20k bonus?

  17. @ korrinda — No, this is based on elite qualifying miles/points/segments, and not redeemable miles (which are what you earn for opening credit cards).

  18. @ PhatMiles — It doesn’t. The bonus miles are based on elite qualifying miles/points/segments and not redeemable miles. You can only qualify for these bonuses based on miles earned for flying.

  19. @ Dax — Assuming you didn’t do any challenges and flew discounted coach the whole way, the breakdown would be as follows:
    First 25,000 miles — 25,000 RDMs
    25,001-50,000 miles — 31,250 RDMs
    50,001-150,000 — 200,000 RDMs
    Elite Rewards — 100,000 RDMs

    So that’s 356,250 miles, if my math is correct.

  20. Would be nice to see UA bring back something like the Elite Choice promos of the past, especially to incentivize 1Ps and 0Ps who lost their 100% RDM bonus.

  21. Must I fly to receive bonus miles/points? What about I buy tickets for others to fly but I won’t fly with them on the same ticket? I only and always buy discounted tickets.

  22. @ Dax — Absolutely, as you’d still be earning elite qualifying miles, points, and segments.

  23. Interesting.

    I ask because QF is having a (up to) 40% off sale last I checked. Even includes premium seats IIRC. The one and ONLY thing I don’t like about AA’s current offer is the implication that a MASSIVE devaluation is probably on its way.

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