American Airlines has announced that it’s making major changes to its small business rewards program. American’s Business Extra program will be discontinued, in favor of the new AAdvantage Business program. On balance I’d say this is a negative change, though not everyone will have the same impression.
In this post:
How the AAdvantage Business program works
AAdvantage Business is the name of American Airlines’ new business rewards program, which replaces Business Extra. The program is certainly more straightforward than the old program, and it’s also more rewarding to individuals, rather than businesses. That being said, collectively the program offers less value than before, in my opinion. Let’s go over the details of how this works.
AAdvantage Business program rewards structure
The AAdvantage Business program has a pretty straightforward rewards structure, as it adapts both the concept of Loyalty Points and AAdvantage miles. With the AAdvantage Business program, you’ll earn the following rewards, which will post within 72 hours of an eligible flight:
- AAdvantage Business will offer the individual traveler one bonus Loyalty Point per dollar spent on eligible airfare (that’s not a redeemable mile, but just a Loyalty Point toward earning elite status)
- AAdvantage Business will offer the business one AAdvantage redeemable mile per dollar spent on eligible airfare
- Businesses that have the Citi AAdvantage Business Card will earn two AAdvantage redeemable miles per dollar spent on eligible airfare
Just to clarify a couple of additional points:
- In order for a flight to be eligible to accrue with the AAdvantage Business program, you must book directly with American and add the AAdvantage Business number to the reservation at the time that you make the reservation; travel on partner airlines qualifies, as long as it’s booked through American
- The AAdvantage miles that the company accrues can be transfered to a designated member at no cost, and can be redeemed like any other AAdvantage miles; however, these wouldn’t earn you any additional Loyalty Points, so also wouldn’t get you any closer to earning more Loyalty Point Rewards
Qualifying for the AAdvantage Business program
In order to be eligible to participate in the AAdvantage Business program, you need to have a business in the United States or Canada with a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Business Number.
While you can accrue rewards in the AAdvantage Business program without any minimums, in order to redeem your miles you need to meet one of two requirements:
- Have at least five unique travelers who have credited flights to the AAdvantage Business account, totaling at least $5,000 in flight revenue over the course of a year
- Be a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (review) member, in which case the requirement is waived, as there’s no minimum to the spending or number of travelers
Transitioning from the American Business Extra program
With the introduction of the new AAdvantage Business Program, American is discontinuing its Business Extra program, which was the company’s old small business rewards program. How exactly will this transition work?
- On December 15, 2023, the Business Extra program will be discontinued
- All Business Extra points must be redeemed by January 31, 2024
- If you sign-up for the AAdvantage Business program, you’ll immediately stop earning rewards with Business Extra
- After December 15, 2023, it will no longer be possible to redeem any Business Extra awards in your account (including upgrade certificates), so your only option at that point is to have the certificates converted into points, and then converted into AAdvantage miles (as outlined below)
- If you don’t want to directly redeem your Business Extra points, after December 15, 2023, you’ll be able to convert them into AAdvantage miles at a 1:6 ratio
It’s one thing to stop letting people earn Business Extra points in the coming months, but I find it ridiculous that with just two months notice, Business Extra awards won’t even be redeemable anymore. So if you’ve been earning Business Extra points, your redemption options are fading fast.
My take on the new AAdvantage Business program
There’s no way to sugarcoat it — in my opinion, the new AAdvantage Business program isn’t nearly as rewarding as the old Business Extra program. However, I also see why this change is being made:
- The Business Extra program was kind of complicated and confusing to some (not to those of us who knew what we were doing, but…), since you earned a different rewards currency from AAdvantage miles
- American has largely given up on corporate sales, given how many sales positions the airline has eliminated, plus how American has eliminated the AirPass program; so it’s also not surprising to see changes to the business rewards program
- The new program is certainly well aligned with Loyalty Points being emphasized as the most important metric
- My favorite use of Business Extra points was redeeming 650 Business Extra points for a one-way confirmed upgrade within the United States, so I’ll miss that redemption opportunity
- I’m really disappointed at how Business Extra certificates will no longer be redeemable with just two months notice; it’s one thing to stop letting people earn awards, but to not even allow current certificates to be redeemed up to their expiration date is disappointing
All that being said, the new AAdvantage Business program is still better than nothing. The way I view it, the business earns the equivalent of a 1.5-3% return on spending (I value AAdvantage miles at 1.5 cents each), while the traveler earns an extra Loyalty Point per dollar spent (currently members earn 5-11x Loyalty Points per dollar spent). Then those miles can always be transfered to the individual traveler.
If you’re eligible to participate, there’s no reason not to.
American Airlines is introducing the new AAdvantage Business program, replacing the Business Extra program. With this new program, the business will earn one AAdvantage mile per dollar spent on eligible airfare, while the individual will earn one Loyalty Point per dollar spent. In order to participate, you need a business with at least five registered employees and $5,000 in annual spending, or you need American’s co-branded Citi business card.
I’ll miss the old Business Extra program, but I’m at least happy to see that something is sticking around.
What do you make of the new AAdvantage Business program?