A Look at an American Airlines Platinum Challenge

Last March, after moving my flying over from Delta to American, I completed an American Airlines Platinum challenge, so I could find an easier way to reach mid-tier status without starting at the bottom.

I realized I had not written a review and description of the process, and as many folks flock to AA as refuge from revenue based loyalty programs, this is a great time to go into the process.

Currently, the AAdvantage Platinum Challenge costs $200. If you have an American Express Platinum Card, this fee is reimbursable with your $200 credit.

You’ll need to call AAdvantage customer service to enroll, and they’ll take your credit card over the phone to pay for the challenge.

Here’s the Basics:

  • You will not receive the status up-front.
  • You need to complete the challenge within 3 months of enrollment.
  • The challenge is based on Elite Qualifying Points (so, spend), and NOT Elite Qualifying Miles
  • You must pay the $200 fee to begin the challenge, and the fee is non-refundable no matter what.

After enrolling over the phone, I received a welcome email.

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You’ll notice that you can earn the points on American, American Eagle, and a selection of their oneworld partners, which is convenient if you have international travel planned.

What is an Elite Qualifying Point?

An Elite Qualifying Point is determined based on how much you paid for the ticket, which is noted by the fare letter.

  • Earn 1.5 points per mile when the purchased fare on your American Airlines ticket is booked in one of these booking codes: A F P D I J B Y
  • Earn 1.0 point per mile for these AA booking codes: H K L M V W
  • Earn .5 points per mile for these AA booking codes: G N Q S O

When you book a ticket, whether online or over the phone, ask what the fare letter is for your trip so you can calculate your EQPs. Remember, no matter how many miles you fly, it will always be based on points. So, it may be worth it in some cases to upgrade in First Class, or pay a higher fare, just so you can earn more EQPs for the challenge.

Once you earn 10,000 EQPs, you’ll automatically be granted Platinum status, and it will reflect on your account. Usually, this happens within 3 business days of your last flight, though it could take longer depending on if your last flight was on American metal or not. Once your status is granted, to maintain it, you still have to fly the 50,000 miles or EQPs by the end of the calendar year to retain it through the next year. Upon completion of the challenge, you’ll also be given (4) 500 mile upgrades.

Failed Challenges and Repeating Challenges

  • You can’t use a challenge to earn back elite status you failed to complete the previous year.
  • You’re not allowed more than 2 challenges every 5 years.

Is a challenge worth it?

It depends on your flying habits. If you’ve just moved from one airline to another, and had elite status on the original airline, it’s quite a downgrade to start at the bottom with the new airline – thus, a good reason for a challenge. Some people use a Challenge to earn elite status knowing that they have several upcoming trips and want to use the elite perks on those trips, but know they won’t maintain the status the following year. This is all well and good, but keep in mind that you are not granted status up front, and it only starts once you complete the challenge.

For me, it was well worth it, since I had status on American within 2 months, and it allowed me to use that status the next several months as I worked my way up to Executive Platinum.

Have you ever completed an American Airlines Platinum Challenge?

 

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