I’m Going for Platinum!

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I used to travel every Monday through Thursday, 52 weeks a year. I used to have American Airlines Executive Platinum status in the bag! I used to get 8 eVIP upgrades annually. I used to get upgraded to first class 99% of the time. I used to get international lounge access.

Well… my travel habits changed a few years ago and I had to say goodbye to my beloved status. I do have lifetime Gold, so I am excited about that, but I do miss my upgrades and 100% mileage bonus on all flights. However, last night, I took a look at my upcoming travel and saw that I’ll actually be flying a good amount of AA flights in the next three months. The first that the came to my mind was – time to go for the Platinum challenge!

For those of you who are not aware, American Airlines offers a gold and platinum challenge at a cost for EVERYONE (no status match needed).

Gold Challenge:

  • Earn 5,000 Elite Qualifying Points* in a three month period
  • Cost: $120

Platinum Challenge:

  • Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Points* in a three month period
  • Cost: $200

*Note that this is Elite Qualifying Points (EQP) and not Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM). EQP’s are based on the fare type, so it is important to look at this fare code when you are booking your flight and planning out your challenge strategy.

Additional Details:

  • You can have the challenge start on the 1st or 16th of every month – the three months will then start from that date (not the date you call to enroll)
  • You are able to backdate the start date of the challenge to the most recent 1st or 16th of the month as well
    • For example, if you flew on March 3rd and enroll in the challenge on March 14th, you can elect to have the challenge start on March 1st to include that flight on March 3rd.
    • However, if you call just a few days later on March 17 to enroll in the challenge, the earliest the challenge can start is on March 16th, meaning that flight on March 3rd will not count.
  • You cannot enroll in a challenge if you already have that status
    • For example, if you already have Platinum status, you cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge to maintain status
    • However, if you have Gold status, you can enroll in the Platinum challenge, but not the Gold challenge
  • If you sign up for the Gold challenge and then realize you can actually hit the number of EQPs needed for the Platinum challenge, you are able to upgrade your challenge (for an additional fee) – you must call AA customer service, you will not be automatically enrolled
  • If you enroll for a challenge before June 16th of any calendar year, and meet the terms, you will be given status until February 28th of the following year
    • For example, if you enroll June 14, 2012 and meet the terms of the challenge, you will earn status until February 28, 2013
  • If you enroll for a challenge after June 16th of any calendar year, and meet the terms, you will be given status  until February 28th two years out
    • For example, if you enroll June 20, 2012 and meet the terms of the challenge, you will earn status until February 28, 2014
  • You must have at leave at least four segments to earn any status, but some have reported that they do not hold you to this
  • For the flight that puts you over the amount needed for obtaining the challenge, you will earn the bonus miles for that flight (25% bonus for gold and 100% bonus for platinum)
  • To enroll in the challenge: Call American Advantage customer service at 1-800-882-8880

Before enrolling in the challenge, make sure to plot out your upcoming travel. If you do not meet the terms of the challenge, there are no refunds! I personally will have over 11,000 Elite Qualifying Points hit my account between March 1 and April 9!

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Comments

  1. Great summary. I did the Platinum challenge last summer and it was $180. The agent I spoke with mentioned the price can change depending on the season, though I’m not sure if that’s still the case.

    Enjoy your status when you get it!

    • @Darren – You are correct, I’ve seen it changing 2x a year or so. Used to be nice when it was free… those days are gone 🙁

  2. This is a real newbie question, but for these “challenges” do you have to have the status in a different airline? I ask because I do not have status with any airline at the moment but would like to get status. I would love to see a post about the different airline status levels and what is appropriate for whom? I live in KC, I like to travel internationally and go to Florida once or twice a year for cruises.

    I really enjoy this blog!

    • @Bryan – For the AA challenge specifically, no, you do not have to have status on a different airline. For other airlines though, yes, you do need to have status. Will get a post out soon on the different elite levels and another one detailing the various airline challenges. Glad you enjoy the blog!

  3. Am I understanding correctly – can get Plat status from a rtn trip from west US to EU, 4 segments, and paying $200? Seems to easy. What am I missing? Thanks.

  4. Congrats Mrs. Deals! Love my status. To Bryan, no you don’t need status on another airline. You can be starting out from zero status on any airline! There are other challenges offered for other airlines, so check them out on this blog site, FlyerTalk or MilePoint (where there are tons of posts regarding this).

    • @Emily – The platinum challenge is $200 (as of today). This price can change though. The gold challenge, if interested, is $120.

  5. Thank you for the interesting blogpost. Can you collect QP on other OW-Airlines which qualify for the challenge or only on AA metal?

  6. @dealswelike

    Thank you. I am based in Germany but flying to the US at least twice a year.

    I think about flying to LAS with the new AirBerlin connection. The RT brings exactly 10000 miles in Y. One short RT within the US and the challenge is complete.

    Since AB is a OW Member in March this is a good alternative to the AB status. (You need 20K miles for the AB ruby)

  7. I’m wondering if my flights this spring will get platinum challenge? What do you guys think?

    LAX-DFW-SJO
    SJO-DFW-SEA-DFW-SEA
    SJO-MIA-MCO-LAX-SJO

    Thanks for your help! Also, if my wife is on the same flights should she challenge too or not? Pros/Cons?

    • @Bryan – You can use this site here to figure out the mileage between each destination: http://www.webflyer.com/travel/mileage_calculator/

      LAX-DFW-SJO = 1230 + 1780 = 3010
      SJO-DFW-SEA-DFW-SEA = 1780 + 1660 + 1660 + 1660 = 6760
      SJO-MIA-MCO-LAX-SJO = 1120 + 193 + 2210 + 2720 = 6243

      TOTAL = 16,013

      You will absolutely make the platinum challenge. But did you mean SJO (San Jose, Costa Rica) or SJC (San Jose, California)?

    • @Aeroman – Many of the airlines do a status match challenge, but typically you must have status for this. Stay tuned for tomorrows post.

  8. When will you leave the dark side and join the force with Continental…ooops, no more continental, and the new signs i am seeing on united are not promising. Can you blog about what is going on with them, maybe you will be a positive influence

    • @David – After my bitter call with Continental today, it sounds like I have little influence. I’ve flown Continental twice in the past 3 months and both times have been poor experiences. I think they went way downhill once they “united” with United.

  9. Yup, SJO as in San Jose Costa Rica. We are moving there. So when my work pays for me to attend trade shows, I can definitely benefit. Would it be worth it to get the Platinum status (or Gold) though, if I might not fly until May/June next year? What would I get for the $120/$200 investment?

    • @Bryan – Very cool! As reader Swag pointed out, what’s the booking class for each leg of your flight. If any are booked in: G, Q, N, O, S you will only receive half the number of EQPs.

      For the $200 investment, you’ll earn Platinum status, which will get you the following: Free checked baggage, 100% bonus on all flights, free standby on an earlier flight, better upgrade opportunity (you get 4 500-mile upgrades per 10,000 miles you fly). Just remember though, if you enroll prior to June 15th, your status will only be good until Feb 28, 2013. So if you are not flying until May/June of next year it may not be worth it. If you enroll after June 15th, your status will be good until Feb 28, 2014. It really depends on when your flights are taking place. Email me and we can discuss further!

  10. TOTAL = 16,013

    As you point out in the blog post, points vary based on fare class, and 16K miles may or may not be enough for Plat. If he’s flying in G, Q, N, O, S, it’s only 8K points.

    • @swag – you are absolutely correct. You need to plan it out based on the fare class. You’d actually be surprised how many fares actually end up calling into the .5 point category.

  11. Do you know if it matters when you buy the flight before you sign up for the and fly during the challenge or if you have to purchase it during the challenge period?

    • @Mike – it does not matter when you purchase your ticket, all that matters is that your actual flight takes place during the challenge period.

  12. Thanks a bunch for all the information!

    If I sign up for the platinum challenge, and complete enough points for gold halfway through, will I be moved up to gold for the rest of the platinum challenge, or will I continue to not have any status until platinum is reached because that’s what I signed up for first?

    Just curious because I believe I saw information to upgrade from gold to platinum challenge if you realize that you will overshoot gold.

    Thanks again!

  13. The platinum challenge is the only way to go on AA…. It is $240 but if you start the challenge after July, they automatically give you Gold status for the rest of this year and the entire following year giving priority boarding and security lines (worth $240 right there for 18 months of bypassing lines.) Even if you only fly short-haul frequent flights, it is not that hard. Once you have Gold status gifted to you, the minimum miles earned per segment = 500 (250 points if deeply discounted.) A nice tip, if you have a few 1000+ miles segments on a deeply discounted corporate flight, change your return time to the next day inside 14 days and you will likely move into the 1.0 category giving you 1:1 points per mile.

    I just completed this challenge 10/21/12 and it only took 2 months with entirely domestic US flights. Even if you only get halfway there, you are given Gold through the end of 2013 so it is a no-brainer for $240.

  14. I have 2 international flights coming up that will get me 8,000 AA points. Should I do gold challenge or platinum? If I do platinum, do I really have gold gifted to me on day 1 that will not expire until the end of next year, even if I don’t hit platinum? And if so, would the extra points from being gold bump me up to enough for platinum?

  15. Is it true that if I do the platinum challenge, I’ll be gifted gold on day 1, and to the end of next year (starting Sept)? Would that affect the amount of points I could earn on AA? I’ve got 2 international flights coming up that will get me 8,000 points on discount fares, so I’m wondering if being gold from day 1 would get me a point bonus that would allow me to hit platinum. Or if I would just be paying double for gold…

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