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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 Executive 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
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.
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!
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
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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Disclosure: I don’t get any referral bonus or commission from anyone for this post or for the links to the credit cards or other offers in this post.