18 Ways To Earn More AA Miles For Lifetime Elite Status

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One Mile at a Time covered the changes to American Airlines’ Lifetime Elite program.  In short, up to November 30, all American Airlines miles earned through any source will count towards lifetime Gold or Platinum status.

After that, only base miles flown on AA or partner airlines will count towards lifetime status.

And for only 1 year (quite strangely) – from December 1, 2011 to December 2012 – miles earned by spending on the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard will count towards lifetime status.

My interpretation is that, if the 25,000 mile sign-on bonus for the Citi Elite Master Card posts to your account before December 1, it will count towards your lifetime status; if the bonus posts after December 1, 2011, it will not count towards lifetime status.

If you are few miles away from AA lifetime status, it MAY make sense to get a few extra AA miles, since all miles earned up to November 30, 2011 will count towards lifetime status.

However, you should do the math to see if AA lifetime Gold or Silver status is really worth transferring hotel points (which are usually very valuable) or spending money on.

In a previous request from a reader, I set up a framework to analyze the value of lifetime platinum status.

As always, the value of lifetime status is going to vary, and will depend on your travel habits, life expectancy of both you and American Airlines (gulp), and the value you place on the elite benefits.

I will be short ~60,000 AAdvantage miles for lifetime gold status after transferring cheaply acquired Wyndham hotel points to American Airlines, but I will apply for an AAdvantage 75,000 mile business card in September, which will push me over the line!

I’ve listed 18 different ways to earn AA miles, but, in my opinion, not all of them are a good value.  However, depending on how much you want lifetime status or how close you are to lifetime status, they may useful.

1.   Credit Card Sign On Bonus. 

This is the quickest and easiest way to get up to 225,000 AAdvantage miles though credit card bonuses by applying for 3 Citi AA credit cards.

And if you can put a lot of spending on your credit card, you may want to consider applying for the Citi Executive Elite Mastercard before December 1, since all spending on that card will count towards your lifetimes status up to December 2012.

The card has a $450 annual fee, but it does come with AA lounge access, and a 25,000 AA mile bonus.

I wouldn’t get this card myself, since I don’t need lounge access and $450 for 25,000 AA miles is a high price to pay, but it may be useful if you can put a lot of spending on the card towards lifetime elite status.

Here’s the ideal timeline, which may not be feasible:

Step 1) Apply for 2  Citi 150,000 AAdvantage miles personal credit cards

If you haven’t been approved for Citi AAdvantage personal credit cards in the last 18 months, apply for BOTH the 75,000 Citi Visa ($1,500 minimum spend) and AMEX AAdvantage ($4,000 minimum spend) cards using the 2-browser trick.

Complete the minimum spending before your statement closes in November (make sure the statement closes by November 25), since it takes 2 to 3 days after your statement closes for the miles to appear in your AA account.

Step 2) Apply for the Citi Business 75,000 AAdvantage mile card & the Citi Executive Elite Master Card

65+ days (Citi allows only 2 applications every 30 days) after your personal card approval, you can apply for the Citi AAdvantage Business Visa credit card for another 75,000 AAdvantage miles.

Assuming you get this card in late October or early November, you will have to meet the minimum spend of $1,500 as soon as possible and call Citi to move up your statement closing date so that you get the miles in your AA account by November 30.  This is going to be a stretch goal!

And if you can justify the $450 annual fee, and will put a lot of spend on it, consider applying for the Citi Executive Elite Master Card.

2.   Bank Direct

You can open a BankDirect checking account, and get up to 22,000 bonus AA miles. 

Unfortunately only 2,000 AA miles (1,000 for opening the account & 1,000 for getting referred by an existing account holder) will post by November 30, and count towards lifetime elite status.

But you can earn 100 AAdvantage miles for every $1,000 in deposits up to $200,000, and an additional 25 AAdvantage miles for every $1,000 over the first $200,000 (average daily balance) in your account.

This means that a deposit of, say, $200,000 in Bank Direct checking account will earn 20,000 AA miles each month, so you will be able to get 40,000 miles by November 30 if you apply and fund your account quickly.

BankDirect pays interest in the 1st week of every month, so you realistically can only earn miles towards lifetime status in September and October.

BankDirect also offers CDs from 6 months to 2 years, where you can earn 250 to 1,000 AA miles per $1,000 invested up to 200,000.  For example, you could earn 200,000 AAdvantage miles if you open a CD for 2 years.

But be careful since there are early withdrawal penalties.

3.   Sentry Insurance

Via The Travelers Loophole, 500 AA miles for a Sentry Insurance quote.

4.   Double Mile Routes

If you have a trip booked, register for the double or triple mile routes.

5.   Buy Miles

Up to August 31, you can buy 50,000 AA miles for $1,105 (including tax) or 2.21 cents per mile.  There is a limit of 40,000 miles per year (excluding the 10,000 bonus miles).

6.   Share or Gift Miles

You can receive up to 15,000 miles per calendar year from a friend or partner for a cost of $191.25, including tax (yikes!)

In general, sharing miles without a transfer bonus is often a very bad value, but this would allow you to get an extra 15,000 miles into your account.

7.   Transfer Hotel Points

In general, hotel points are valuable so be sure to do the math before transferring!

I personally would not transfer any of my hotel points to AA for lifetime status, but you may find it a good value.

Starwood – Transfers at a 1:1 rate to AA, but you get a 25% bonus for transfers in multiples of 20,000 points.  So 20,000 SPG points becomes 25,000 AA miles

Hilton – 10,000 Hilton points convert to 1,500 AA miles

You could also apply for hotel credit cards and transfer the points earned to AA, but I don’t see that as a good value.

8.   Mileage Run

I’m not a fan of mileage running, but it is an option.

9.   Membership Rewards Transfer

You can transfer American Express Membership rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points at a very unfavorable rate of  3: 1, and then from SPG to AA at 1:1 ratio.

Using this method, 100 MR points would transfer to 38 AA miles (including the 25% SPG transfer bonus for transfers in multiples of 20,000 points).

This is not a good transfer ratio in my opinion, but may be useful if you have a lot of Membership Reward points.

10.   Brokerage

Via Free Frequent Flyer miles, you can earn up to 25,000 AAdvantage miles with TD Ameritrade.   This offer appears to be ending on September 30, 2011.

You can also earn another 50,000 AAdvantage miles from Fidelity up to September 30, 2011.

11.   Loan Depot

Via I Feed My Babies, you can earn 5,000 AA miles for requesting a loan quote and 30,000 AA miles if you finance through Loan Depot.  Unfortunately, it is a hard inquiry to your credit score, so be very careful.

12.   Energy Plus

5,000 AA miles for changing your electric provider in certain states (Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.)

This is not something I’m comfortable doing, though I’d consider it if the offer was for 50,000 AA miles!

13.   Netflix 

2,500 AAdvantage miles for new Netflix subscriptions.

14.   AAdvantage Shopping Mall 

Shop at the AAdvantage shopping mall for Groupons, get a head start on your holiday shopping, or order accessories for 83,871 miles.  In my experience, it can take up to 2 months for the AA miles to post to my account.

15.   AAdvantage Dining 

Via The Points Guy, you can earn 1,000 AAdvantage miles for spending at least $30 in dining through the AAdvantage dining program.

16.   Use Mileage Multiplier To Buy Miles

You can triple or quadruple the amount of miles you earn on an AA flight by using mileage multiplier.

In general, this is an expensive way to buy miles, but may be useful for a quick top off.

17.  Verizon FIOS

Via AAdvantage Geek, 10,000 AAdvantage miles for signing-up for Verizon FIOS.  You have to complete installation by September 27, 2011.  Terms & Conditions indicate that it may take up to 90 days for the miles to post.

18.   Direct TV

12,5000 bonus AAdvantage miles for a new Dirct TV subscription.  I don’t know if the miles will post to your account by November 30.

Are you going to chase lifetime elite status with American Airlines?  Do you know of any other ways to earn AA miles?

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28 responses to “18 Ways To Earn More AA Miles For Lifetime Elite Status

  1. I think there may be an error in item 2 about Bank Direct. At 100 miles per $1,000 in their checking account, I would think a $100,000 deposit would result in 10,000 miles per month rather than the 20,000 you listed. Right?

    • @Steve Schwartz – You’re right. It should be a “$200,000” deposit, not “$100,000.” Thanks for letting me know. That’s what happens when I write the post after my proofreader has gone to bed!

  2. There’s also the TDAmeritrade offer for opening and funding a new brokerage account.

    • @c0ldlimit – I’ve listed it in the brokerage section!

      – Please let me know if you decide to do this. I’ve always wondered about how the transition would be and would love to learn more!

      @bluto – Ha!

      – That’s strange. I signed up for an account for Emily’s grandmom and we got 2500 miles.

      @Jim – It only impacts miles going forward. All miles earned up to Nov 30 will count towards lifetime status. You would have to fly only 50K miles to get lifetime gold status, hence the rush to pad up AA accounts!

      @nick – If it has been at least 18 months or more since you had your personal card approved, you should get the miles again. Actually, you should be able to apply for both cards at the same time and get 150K miles.

      @Scott DeLisio – Nice! Thanks for sharing!

  3. FYI – In regard to Item 12. Energy Plus for fellow Texans…

    I received an email offer from Energy Plus a month ago for 12,500 AA miles and first month at 7.9 per kWh. The miles post if I stay with them for 2 months.

    I am not sure if it was targeted or not, but I clicked the email’s link and it still actively displays the bonus.

  4. 19. Charge a ton to your AA credit card.

  5. I tried the Netflix for 2500 AA miles. Netflix only gave 1500 miles. After several calls and emails to both Netflix and AA, I gave up, and cancelled the account after 4 months.

  6. This may be a stupid question, but I’m not totally sure I understand the change. (I’m nowhere close to 1MM status, so this is more just out of curiosity.)

    Does the change affect miles already earned, or only miles earned going forward? That is to say, if I have 950K miles currently (but zero flown miles) could I simply fly 50K miles over the rest of my life and still reach 1MM status? Or would my lifetime-miles counter get knocked down to zero on December 1?

  7. I have a citi aadvantage platinum master card and a citibusiness master card for many years. Will I get the 75K bonus miles if I apply for the Citi Amex.

  8. Triple dip on the Aadvantage shopping site: an example: I found the shoes my son wanted at Finishline.com (5 miles per 1$), then purchased a gift certificate at giftcertificates.com (3miles per 1$), then used the gift certificate to buy the shoes at finishline.com. I spent $102.00 and got 102 miles for using my AA credit card, 300 miles from the certificate and 500 miles for the shoe purchase. Total 900 miles for a pair of shoes. Oh and i got free shipping.

  9. @Scott, thanks for the tips.

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  11. I’m curious for your take on this. I’ve currently got a citi aadvantage mastercard, and a starwood card. My SPG balance is 234,000 which if I transfer (including the 5000 mile bonuses) would put me about 50,000 miles away from lifetime status. So if I switched my citi card to the executive card, I could achieve lifetime status by next year and avoid having to use only base miles to qualify. So is lifetime gold worth 234,000 SPG points, and $450 (for the annual fee on the citi card)?

    • @BJ – It really depends on what YOU value AA lifetime Gold at. If you regularly earn lots of SPG points, it may be okay for you to transfer them to AA for lifetime status. In my case, I am always short of hotel points, so I wouldn’t make the trade, but your situation may be different.

      Also, consider whether you will get the SWUs or the 500 mile stickers, whether you will make use of the free checked bags, and 25% mile bonus. If you rarely travel AA it may not make sense, but it is really going to depend on you!

  12. What about the charities AA sponsors @ 10 miles per dollar donated (Susan Komen, Cancer Society, USO)?

  13. Buy points Hyatt Gold Passport and transfer into AAdvantage.

  14. I occassionally buy something on my credit card and then take it back a few weeks later. If I buy something on my November statement and then take it back in December, do you think they would make the negative adjustment to my million miles account or just my current balance account.

    • @Gabe – Great idea!

      @Futaris – You lose 50% on the transaction, but may be worth it to some. Thanks for sharing!

      @Easttexasbrit – I believe that the negative adjustment is just to the redeemable miles, but not the million mile status 😉

  15. I just found an offer for 7,500 bonus miles through Southwest if anyone would rather do that instead of the 5,000 AA miles for the ENERGY PLUS sign up. Qualifications seem to be the same. I just signed up for the AA mile offer and am bummed, because I would have did this one instead. It seems like a much better offer.

  16. Just a tip.. BEWARE of Energy Plus! I signed up for it back in the spring and the first month was a low rate and then every month after that my electric bill increased. By the time I noticed it was the 3rd month and my electric bill was 3x the normal amount. I cancelled asap. For what I paid in the increased electric bills was not worth the miles. I had to make a report to the BBB and a complaint to the illinois commerce etc to get them to give me some sort of credit for the rediculous increases. They only gave me a credit of $25. Energy Plus is not a company you want to do business with. They should be ashamed of themselves for what they were charging me for electric. When I switched back to my normal electric carrier my bill went down DRAMATICALLY. So if you are gonna switch to Energy Plus keep an eye on what they are charging you and drop them once you get your miles.

  17. Not sure how widespread this is yet, but Citibank is mailing out an offer to AA card holders to earn 23.5K AA miles after opening a Citigold bank account. To earn the points you only need to do one of the following activities each month for two consecutive months:

    -one or more direct deposits

    -two or more electric bill payments

    This offer does not appear targeted as both myself and Mrs. SS received the offer and the code is the same: C2JB

    More details at offer.Citibank.com, 18665836709 or your local Citibank branch. This looks like it is much easier than the BankDirect points, although nothing stopping anyone from doing both.

    Now I just wish I was remotely close to the million AA milemarker…..

  18. @Sarah Thanks for the tip. I will take a look at the terms and keep an eye on them. I only signed up to get the miles so I can always cancel as soon as I get them. Hopefully it won’t cost us too much in the meantime.

  19. @Sarah Do you happen to remember how long it took to get the 5,000 bonus sign up miles from ENERGY PLUS? I want to cancel but am waiting for the bonus miles first. My bills are going up a little every month. I’ve had 2 billing cycles now and I’m hoping they come soon. My husband and I each have an account.

  20. Are there any credit cards now that count towards STATUS ? And I mean signing up for a new CC in 2012.

    • @LB – I’m assuming you mean AA status. The Citi Executive card offers 10K elite miles when you spend $40K in a year. If you had the Executive card before December 1, 2011 miles earned via regular spending (upto December 1 2012) will count towards your lifetime status.

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  22. Hi D!!

    My husband and I are very new to elite status etc. and for the very first time we have reached Gold. I know this will expire in a year. I get easily confuse with the perks it carries. We have around 142K AA miles so what does Gold have in store for us? Hope you can enlighten me a bit on this. Thanks much!!