Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
In one of the biggest changes ever made to an elite status qualification system, American Airlines AAdvantage is moving to something called “Loyalty Points”. One of the key elements is that you can earn Loyalty Points from a plethora of non-flying activities, which is a genuinely radical change compared to how ‘frequent flyer’ programmes have worked historically.
You might not be very interested in American Airlines, but if the new system is a success, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see BA and Virgin considering similar options at some point in the future. I therefore thought it would be interesting to take a closer a look at exactly what it is that AA is planning and, in particular, which types of partner activities will earn Loyalty Points (and which won’t).
How to earn Loyalty Points from partner transactions
You can earn Loyalty Points when booking hotels via Rocketmiles and BookAAHotels (this is going to open some interesting opportunities…).
You can also earn Loyalty Points when earning MILES from hotel stays with Hyatt, Marriott and IHG.
This still isn’t straightforward, though. American elites WILL earn Loyalty Points from linking their account with World of Hyatt – 1 mile per $ spent at Hyatt hotels.
You WILL NOT be able to earn Loyalty Points by converting Marriott Bonvoy points into AA miles. For Marriott and IHG, you would have to choose to earn miles instead of points for your stays… if you want them to count as Loyalty Points.
All AAdvantage miles earning from renting cars WILL count as Loyalty Points.
The miles that you earn from booking cruises via BookAACruises will count as Loyalty Points. (in the past, there have been some very lucrative mileage-earning cruise offers, so this is one to watch…)
Miles earned from Shell, WeWork, Vinesse, FTD, Vivid Seats, NRG Energy, Reliant Energy, Xoom and Miles for Opinion WILL count as Loyalty Points.
(earning status from taking online surveys is certainly something to consider…)
If you earn AA miles from AAdvantage Dining, AAdvantage eShopping and SimplyMiles, these WILL count as Loyalty Points.
HOWEVER, any eShopping bonuses (spend X and earn Y miles) will NOT qualify as a Loyalty Point.
The main NON-qualifying activities
Buying, Gifting or Transferring Miles
Although selling miles to members is very lucrative for American Airlines, they will NOT allow you to buy elite status simply by buying miles.
Credit Card Bonuses
Credit card sign-up bonuses will NOT count as a Loyalty Point. Nor will any category bonuses for day-to-day spend.
You cannot earn Loyalty Points by converting hotel or credit card points to AA miles.
Until American Airlines introduces individual Loyalty Point trackers, it will be hard to know for sure which transactions will be non-qualifying (especially if special bonuses such as Hyatt’s 1,000 miles per stay do NOT count).
For now there’s no obvious way of earning elite status on the ground (apart from serious credit card spending in the USA). But I’m sure that the travel hacking community will find the loopholes before too long.
From a UK perspective, the really interesting thing is to see what BA/Virgin make of all this. Given that both airlines’ loyalty programmes have already made substantial moves to provide non-flying options to spend points, you can see the logic of integrating elite status somehow too.