American Airlines has just revealed some changes to the Business Extra program. While the news is a mixed bag, on balance I’m kind of happy that the changes weren’t worse.
What is American Business Extra?
For those of you not familiar, Business Extra is American Airlines’ small business rewards program. This is run in addition to AAdvantage, meaning you can double dip — you can earn miles with AAdvantage and points with Business Extra for a given flight.
Through this program you earn two Business Extra points per $10 spent on eligible flights. While you’re not earning as many points as you do with AAdvantage, redemption rates are also much lower. The other cool thing is that you can credit points from multiple people to your Business Extra account, and over time rewards should nicely build up.
You can redeem your Business Extra points for all kinds of things, ranging from free flights, to upgrades, to nominating someone for AAdvantage status, to Admirals Club memberships. And that brings us to the changes.
New requirement for Business Extra account
In the past there has been no minimum activity to participate in the Business Extra program. That will finally be changing. In order to redeem points through a Business Extra account:
- You’ll need to have three unique travelers on your account
- You’ll need to maintain $5,000 in Business Extra flight activity during the previous 12-month period
This policy goes into immediate effect for those who joined the program on October 4, 2021, or later. Meanwhile for existing members these changes go into effect as of January 1, 2023.
New Business Extra points redemption options
The American Business Extra program is introducing new ways to redeem Business Extra points. Specifically, the following three redemption options are being added:
- You can now redeem 6,600 Business Extra points for AAdvantage Platinum status, in addition to being able to redeem 3,200 Business Extra points for AAdvantage Gold status (the latter was previously possible, while the former wasn’t)
- You can now convert Business Extra points into AAdvantage miles at a 1:6 ratio, which wasn’t previously possible; in other words, the Business Extra program offers an additional 1.2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent, if you choose to redeem your points that way
- You can now redeem Business Extra points for carbon offsets; in partnership with Cool Effect, 300 Business Extra points gets you one carbon emission tonnage offset
Existing redemption options won’t change. That includes being able to redeem for a BXP1 (a one-way confirmable upgrade with fare class restrictions) for 650 Business Extra points, which is a favorite redemption option for many.
My take on these Business Extra changes
A few thoughts on these changes to the Business Extra program:
- Given the general direction American is headed, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a major devaluation, so this could have been a lot worse, if you ask me
- The new spending requirement to redeem points isn’t that unreasonable, and shouldn’t negatively impact those who are most engaged in the program; if you have AAdvantage elite status, chances are that you’ll reach that spending requirement among three people
- The new Business Extra points redemption options are nice, including the ability to convert Business Extra points into AAdvantage miles, which wasn’t previously possible
Personally I don’t mind these changes, and I think I might even like them. Regardless, I think program changes could have been a lot worse.
Some changes are being made to American Airlines’ small business rewards program, Business Extra. A spending requirement is being added in order to redeem points, clearly intended to exclude those who aren’t very engaged in the program. While that’s a negative change, the good news is that there are now more ways to redeem Business Extra points, including being able to convert them into American AAdvantage miles.
What do you make of these changes to the American Business program?