Navigating Airline Loyalty: How We're Mastering American Airlines Advantage

Episode 12 November 11, 2023 00:26:08
Navigating Airline Loyalty: How We're Mastering American Airlines Advantage
2TravelDads Podcast
Navigating Airline Loyalty: How We're Mastering American Airlines Advantage

Nov 11 2023 | 00:26:08

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Hosted By

Rob Taylor Chris Taylor

Show Notes

Apparently I've been trying to acheive and upgrade my airline status wrong. In this podcast episode Chris shares how he's absolutely surpassing me at the mileage game with American Airlines and shares all of his hacks for maximizing it. He's two levels above me and we travel the same amount. What's the deal?!

Have a listen and see just what the scoop is on ways to earn loyalty points with American, what that means, what that gives you as you continue to climb the ladder, and how to do it easily. I'll admit, even though we live in the same house I was shocked to learn how Chris has really mastered this program. I know this will be helpful to others too!

Check out more of our travel tips, including Using Points for Travel (another podcast episode) and how we plan our adventures, here and on the blog at 2TravelDads.com!

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:04] Speaker A: Welcome to two Travel Dads Podcast. Here we share our favorite destinations, travel tips, stories from our adventures, and tips for saving money. Be sure to subscribe and check out our detailed show [email protected]. Podcast Episodes. [00:00:22] Speaker B: Hey, welcome back to Two Travel Dads Podcast. I'm Rob. [00:00:25] Speaker C: I'm Chris. [00:00:26] Speaker B: And today, so as we were just kind of plotting about what we were going to be talking about on this episode, we discovered how frustrated I am about our topic. And Chris is going to help us with that. And since we live in the same household, hopefully he'll actually help me with this, too. [00:00:43] Speaker C: I always try. [00:00:45] Speaker B: Okay, so what we're going to talk about today is status with airlines. And specifically we're talking about American because that's what we fly. And somehow he's figured out. And I don't know, this is confusing to me. I am gold status with American. And somehow I thought he was just like platinum, which I thought was, oh, my gosh, how did you get up there so quickly? Turns out he's like, steps above that. [00:01:12] Speaker C: Just one step. Platinum pro. [00:01:13] Speaker B: Well, still, I don't get it. So we are going to dig into that and figure out what it is that he did that I'm not doing so that I can fix that for myself. And then we'll go from there. We've got more stuff to talk about. But I didn't realize the disparity between our lives with something like this. So anyways, why don't you go ahead and first off, what is the difference between there's me who's gold, there's other people who don't necessarily have status. What's the difference? What do you notice? [00:01:47] Speaker C: Well, you get other benefits, right? So I think that as you start to gain status and the different status levels, of course you can go to American.com and look at the different tiers and see the differences. But right away it's whether or not you get preferred seating at booking. So you're not paying for main cabin extra, as one example. And you get preferred treatment as it comes to upgrades, getting upgraded to first class right before your flight. So those are some of the key benefits, I think the ones that people look forward to the most, of course, some of the other ones are you might get an extra bag free to check or priority boarding, right. So I think now in platinum Pro, it's boarding group two or one. No, I think boarding group two. I don't have it up in front of me. But there's better benefits. Of course, the higher you grow and your mileage multiplier increases. So when you're booking on American and flying, you get more mileage based on your status, similar to what it was on. [00:02:59] Speaker B: Yeah. So we're getting ready to fly to. [00:03:02] Speaker C: Hawai, but I'll just say there's two things, right? So how American is different than Alaska is, it's not about miles flown. [00:03:13] Speaker B: Oh, that's right. [00:03:14] Speaker C: So Alaska, so simple, because it's all based upon miles flown, right. At American, it's all about loyalty points. And you can earn loyalty points in many different ways. And that's the secret. [00:03:28] Speaker B: And I think that's what we need to dig into and figure out is because somehow you are approaching two levels above me. And I travel for work, I travel all the time. I travel without you guys. I put everything on this card. Why am I levels below you? [00:03:49] Speaker C: Because I think as you travel, your hotels are usually paid for by the company that you're working with, so you're not booking your own travel. When I travel for work, I get to book my own places where I stay. So I like to go out to the. It's like American hotels. Like it's partnered through Rocket Miles. And so I can find a place to be able to stay that will grant me, let's say, 15,600 loyalty points for my three day booking, right? Because I have that flexibility for how I travel. So for 500, or call it even, $1,000 total stay, which normally would only get you 1000 loyalty points, because when you're using your card, it's one dollars, one loyalty point. But when you use the American Hotels Partnership through Rocket Miles, that stay gets you like 15,000 loyalty points. So it's as if you spent $15,000 but you didn't. Right. Similar with the AA shopping website, which is amazing. [00:05:03] Speaker B: When I just booked our parking, I did it through AA shopping. [00:05:06] Speaker C: Yeah, that was great. So I'm glad that you started to use that. You can add that AA shopping, like web extension through Chrome, which that's what I've got. [00:05:15] Speaker B: And that's what told me to choose this one. Yeah. [00:05:17] Speaker C: And I often just go check it. I'm like, what's out there? What is now, like, providing a higher number of loyalty points per mile spent? Because sometimes it's Adidas or it's Under Armour, which are brands I don't really care about, but they're brands that the boys love. And so when they need new shoes or they need some new clothes because they like their athletic wear, they love. [00:05:40] Speaker B: Their Adidas Lego shoes, they love their Lego shoes. [00:05:42] Speaker C: And they love that performance texture clothing. And you can get that from Under Armour. And then, so when that jumps up to 10 miles or ten loyalty points per dollar, that adds up. When you're buying clothes for kids. [00:05:58] Speaker B: Got you. And you're the one who does all the online shopping for whatever we need. [00:06:04] Speaker C: I check AA shopping first. [00:06:06] Speaker B: That's interesting. Oh, and here's something interesting also as I'm kind of poking around on the site, since you talked about booking like American is also partnered with IHG. And I book a lot of hotels through IHG because of my status with IHG. But apparently I could actually just do. [00:06:28] Speaker C: It here as, uh, what's the benefit? [00:06:33] Speaker B: Well, that's just it. So let's look. So if I dig into this, it doesn't look like it's that spectacular. Initially, it's 2 miles for every dollar you spend on qualifying room rights. So that's better than just $1. But then also what I get when I book through IHG is I get IHG points. So that's where I get confused. [00:06:58] Speaker C: There's a difference though. So if you go back and you look at what you were just looking at for American, and you mentioned you earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend, that's great for Miles. Miles are different than loyalty points. Miles do not get you status. Loyalty points get you status on American. So when you see below for rocket Miles, if you were to book there and you earn Miles and loyalty points, this explains. So the loyalty points is what's key. You need to see how do you earn loyalty points. Because when you earn loyalty points, you earn status. [00:07:37] Speaker B: That's really tricky because I have booked quite a few things, like when I'm not staying with IHG and booking that way. I've been booking through these different hotel links on American, but I haven't been clicking the rocket miles one. And I guess that these other ones really are, I don't know, I guess they're doing miles instead of loyalty points. This one calls out the loyalty points. That's fascinating. Yeah. [00:08:02] Speaker C: So that's critical because if you're not earning loyalty points, you're not building up towards your status. [00:08:10] Speaker B: So then what's been the point of me trying to specifically do this if I missed this loophole? That's frustrating. [00:08:19] Speaker C: You can still achieve it. That's the thing. And I say that because if you were to have to book a hotel for another destination coming up, I recommend that you go through the AA advantage site, partnered with Rocket Miles, search for your hotel. And what I always like to do is it might not be the best hotel, but I just sort it by loyalty points earned to see what's going to give me the biggest bang for my buck when it comes to loyalty points. And then I start to make my decision that way because it doesn't always put the hotel stay up top with the highest loyalty points. So you want to do that and then also of course stick within your budget, but at least get the most loyalty points out of the money that you're spending to contribute towards your status. [00:09:03] Speaker B: That is fascinating. This is so completely contrary to how I thought that this worked and I'm frustrated, but I'm thankful that I am learning this right now. [00:09:13] Speaker C: Yeah, and the other part is. So we talked about definitely a key way to build loyalty points that contribute towards status is booking hotels through the AA advantage rocket Miles site. Because you can quickly earn loyalty points. The last day that I did when I was in Emeryville for work, it was like 15,000 Loyalty points. Right. For an $800 stay. [00:09:42] Speaker B: That is amazing. [00:09:44] Speaker C: And if I just use my card, that's like one dollars per loyalty point. I would have had to spend like $15,000 to get that. But through Rocket Miles. Right. I got there quickly. [00:09:56] Speaker B: Yeah. But also I think that maybe you're also traveling to places that have some better deals because thinking about my upcoming trip to Tucson and the biggest thing that I see here is 1500 for a stay and that's not even per night, that's just in total. And you're talking like up in the thousands. [00:10:20] Speaker C: Well, and it depends on what the duration of your stay is too. And I guess maybe where you're going. So as an example, it looks like you're doing a search, but I was going to say just search in California and take a look. But anyways, it is going to vary. It always does. Like when I book in Pennsylvania, it's different than when I book in California. Right. And there's obviously some type of partnership and relationship with the hotels, right. That are trying to promote their hotel. That's going to probably drive more miles, but it's just one way still at the end of the day to earn more miles or, sorry, loyalty points. [00:11:00] Speaker B: Loyalty points. I guess that's the other thing that I kind of have to fix my view on is because I'm always looking for Miles because that's what I've been trained to do. So loyalty points. [00:11:11] Speaker C: Okay, it's loyalty points. So hotels, that's one key way to drive up your loyalty points. The second is through AA shopping. Right? And I'm not saying just go shop because shopping gets you loyalty points. It's more about like, as you're thinking about something that you need and you have to shop for, might as well go check AA shopping and see whether or not what you need is available through AA shopping. Because if it is, you could earn more loyalty points. So even with, like, we shop at Home Depot, we shop at Lowe's. Sometimes those brands increase the loyalty points you can earn per dollar spent. So I like to go there and check and see if I can buy something through AA shopping and pick it up in store, which gives you more loyalty points than if you went to the store and just bought it with your card. That's another way to drive up your loyalty points. [00:12:05] Speaker B: That is fascinating. Oh, and see, look at this. Like you mentioned Under Armour through AA shopping earlier, now that I'm on here right now, earn 11 miles per dollar. And I also kind of wonder if. [00:12:18] Speaker C: They say Miles, that's also known as loyalty points. [00:12:21] Speaker B: Okay, so that's what I'm kind of curious. Is there some discrepancy? And when one thing says Miles, is it meaning loyalty points? Because it also kind of looks like maybe it might sometimes mean it and. [00:12:31] Speaker C: Sometimes yes, sometimes not. But AA shopping always gives you the loyalty points. [00:12:35] Speaker B: Okay. Wow. [00:12:37] Speaker C: And sometimes there's the other, like I did. You'll see a huge bonus for signing up for a subscription. So if you remember, I was like, hey, let's try hello fresh, right? And that's that meal delivery service. And you were kind of irritated with it because, yeah, it comes once a week, you get all these little tiny packets. But for spending, I don't know, it was like 250. Let's say we got 6500 loyalty points. [00:13:05] Speaker B: And we had all of our meals. [00:13:06] Speaker C: And we had all of our meals, right? And then I did it again with, what was the other one? [00:13:10] Speaker B: Green something, rather. [00:13:11] Speaker C: Yeah, green apron or something. But again, it was like 6500 loyalty points. [00:13:15] Speaker B: Like, green apron is Starbucks behaviors. [00:13:18] Speaker C: Okay, blue apron. Sorry, Blue apron. There's a green chef or something. Anyway, and I did like the Motley fool, which was like an $80 a year subscription to get access to tips for building stock. Yeah, building your investments. And that was like a 6200 loyalty point bonus. Right? So those little things contribute greatly towards your status. And that status you get to keep all year. [00:13:47] Speaker B: And this is interesting because I'm poking around as you are talking about this, and you know how I was just talking about IHG and I was like, oh, look at that. It actually is 2 miles per dollar. And then when I went into the American Airlines shopping versus clicking directly on IHG here, now through American Airlines shopping, it's 3 miles per dollar. So even here, going from the same basic hub now, I found an even better deal. [00:14:18] Speaker C: Yeah. And what's great, too is when you go through IG shopping, sometimes you're looking for, like, if you're going to go buy something online through one of your favorite retailers or something, you're like, oh, I don't have a coupon code. And then you go to search for a coupon code through AA shopping, it actually does that work for you? So when you see a brand that you want to buy something through and it tells you get this many loyalty points and they'll say, hey, and there's also all of these offers and it will automatically apply those offers for you. And they're the same things that you get when you search for online coupons. [00:14:48] Speaker B: See, this is why I wish you could record more podcast episodes, because now I'm completely learning something that I wish I would have known. [00:14:54] Speaker C: Six months mean. And here's the other thing, right? We had to buy a new Fridge. [00:15:00] Speaker B: Oh, yeah, that's true. Oh, did you do that through AA shopping? [00:15:02] Speaker C: Sure did. [00:15:04] Speaker B: That's fascinating. [00:15:05] Speaker C: But here's the thing. Yes. I bought it through AA shopping through Samsung because they had a special, like, it was 8 miles per dollar, but it also had the fridge that I wanted and it had the cooktop that I wanted, and they gave me a huge military discount for being a veteran. So it all made sense. And I got 18,000 miles or 18,000 loyalty points. [00:15:25] Speaker B: That is astounding. And that explains why you are executive pro. [00:15:31] Speaker C: Not yet. Not executive Pro, Platinum Pro, which I keep trying to see whether or not they're going to upgrade us to first class to Hawai. [00:15:38] Speaker B: Oh, my gosh. That would be so amazing. I'd be so thrilled. [00:15:40] Speaker C: We're back. [00:15:42] Speaker B: I would accept any upgrade. [00:15:43] Speaker C: Okay, so first tip is you have to check out rocket Miles to make sure that you get a ton of loyalty points for the money that you spent on a hotel. The second is check out AA shopping before you just go to the retailer direct to purchase something because you could definitely accrue many more loyalty points that way. And the third, I think it's called mileage plan dining. AA dining. [00:16:06] Speaker B: Yes, that's right. So we have tacos at our neighborhood taco place at least twice a week at Taco Libre. And Taco Libre, I get emails whenever I use my American card there letting me know that I got extra loyalty points for getting my tacos. Yeah. [00:16:23] Speaker C: And after you go to so many places, so many times, the multiplier increases. So I earn more. I think I earned like five per dollar spent. [00:16:30] Speaker B: I think we should have tacos for dinner. Yeah. [00:16:32] Speaker C: And that's why I like to go to Anna Man Bistro, by the way, because they do it there. [00:16:35] Speaker B: Oh, I didn't know. Oh, who knew? Well, I also enjoyed my meal. [00:16:42] Speaker C: Yeah. So hotels, hotels, shopping, meals. [00:16:47] Speaker B: Yes. So if I'm going to jump online and try and figure out the meals thing, is that something that is a part of the American Airlines shopping? Where do I. [00:16:59] Speaker C: Actually, it's not part of shopping. Do me a favor and just search for American Airlines. Yeah. AA dining or mileage dining. [00:17:12] Speaker B: If you can hear I'm typing as we go because. Yeah. [00:17:17] Speaker C: AA advantage. It's always a advantage dining. AA advantage hotels. [00:17:22] Speaker B: Look at this. [00:17:23] Speaker C: Yeah. So if you're not signed up, you should sign up. And then the other cool thing is you can add multiple cards. Right. [00:17:29] Speaker B: So you don't just have to use your. [00:17:31] Speaker C: No, no. Because this isn't connected to your American Airlines card. This is connected to your American Airlines loyalty account. So through AA advantage dining, they don't care how you're spending your money and which card. They just care that you're spending your money through this site and partnered with them so you can earn miles or loyalty points. [00:17:54] Speaker B: That is so fascinating. And now I just signed up for it very easily. It literally just prompted everything. Oh, Zoners is included. [00:18:03] Speaker C: Oh, we could go to Old city subs right behind the woke poke. [00:18:06] Speaker B: By the woke poke. [00:18:08] Speaker C: Who knew? [00:18:09] Speaker B: See, and this is why we aren't just like earning miles and loyalty points and upgrades for flights. We're also trying new places to eat that are right by places we are already going. [00:18:22] Speaker C: Well. And here's the thing. So for people who are listening and you don't know, our kids love Pokemon and there's this place called the Woke Poke, which is a really cool card shop and they play tournaments, all of these things. Anyways, cool spot. Kids love to go there. But right on the other side of it is Old city subs and a place that we could earn loyalty points if we go get delicious sandwiches. [00:18:44] Speaker B: This is fascinating. Oh, look at that. Ancient city bourbon and boards. [00:18:48] Speaker C: Yeah, let's go. [00:18:49] Speaker B: Ancient City brunch bar. [00:18:51] Speaker C: Where are we going tonight? [00:18:52] Speaker B: The back 40. Back 40 is on. [00:18:53] Speaker C: Hey, that's new. That wasn't there before, I promise. I would have known that. [00:18:57] Speaker B: Okay, well, this is all fascinating. Tacos queen. I love their stuff. [00:19:03] Speaker C: Okay, so another great way, if you're just going to spend money anyway, to earn more loyalty points, which all contribute towards your status. [00:19:11] Speaker B: That is fascinating. So then, since you've earned all these points and everything, I know you enjoy your early boarding and your upgrades. When you fly without the rest of us, what other benefits have you gotten to actually take advantage of or see? Actually, you know what? I feel like we've all benefited with that. [00:19:32] Speaker C: Yeah. Because I also get to choose preferred seating. Main cabin extra is like free. [00:19:36] Speaker B: Yeah. So even if I book the flights, if you're the one who checks us in, you get to do all that? Yeah. [00:19:41] Speaker C: Then if I'm on the reservation, I get to make adjustments and put us in better seats. [00:19:46] Speaker B: Interesting. [00:19:47] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:19:48] Speaker B: Well, that's fascinating. So then, since you're focused so much on this, not like this is like your hobby, but focused on earning that status and whatever and making it so it applies to all of us, does that mean that you kind of. Because I know it used to be that you were really using our American Express Platinum and our other points programs. Is it all just shifted? Do you still care about that stuff? Have we used all the points we accrued with those other before? [00:20:23] Speaker C: If you remember, right, when we lived over in were, you have to go all in on a brand. So we were all in on Alaska because we flew Alaska, we had the Alaska card. And so everything that we did was Alaska. And so that focused all of our point earning miles earning on Alaska and we were MVP, gold, 75K. Right. [00:20:45] Speaker B: Even the kids had status. [00:20:46] Speaker C: Kids had status. Their program is amazing and that ensures that you're all in on a brand. And so everything that you spend just contributes towards that status and you're going to achieve that status much more quickly and benefit from it. Moving over here to the East coast, we had to figure out what's our new brand. Right. And where do we focus. And initially we knew it was American, but we got an AmEx Platinum and thought that we would go that route and built a lot of points. I think we've got over 450,000 something. [00:21:24] Speaker B: You should use those for something. [00:21:25] Speaker C: Well, yeah, but here's how we can use them. So one is, most of the time I'm doing all of my big purchases and everything on American through my American card so that we can achieve that status. Right. But there's still stuff that happens on the Amex now, what's there on the Amex Platinum? We can take those points. And what I've learned from your friend, the points guy, and it's that the best value is actually converting those into miles through one of their airline partners. So you can go in and you can see whether or not it's British Airways, Aeromexico, et cetera. You can see for point per mile what that conversion rate is and convert all of those points from American Express into miles that then you can book. So I'm holding on to all of those for us to be able to book, like a European vacation. [00:22:21] Speaker B: Excellent. And that would be flights, the fanciest hotels, everything could be our luxury rail. [00:22:28] Speaker C: Across Europe, because either way, you can convert them to Miles. So then you can book the airline or you can book an American Express vacation package also with those AMX points. [00:22:45] Speaker B: That's interesting because I think you can do a whole vacation package using airline miles, like through American Airlines. But it sounds like maybe tHat. Do you think that holds the same sort of value? [00:22:57] Speaker C: No, I think the best value is. [00:23:00] Speaker B: Just using the flights and then the little upgrades here and there that just come with it. [00:23:06] Speaker C: Yeah, exactly. [00:23:07] Speaker B: Interesting. Well, do you have any other thoughts on this or anything else that I need to apparently change in my own spending behaviors and thoughts? [00:23:15] Speaker C: One is always ask me. Two. [00:23:18] Speaker B: Okay, so people who are listening can't just phone you up and say, oh. [00:23:22] Speaker C: Yeah, no, not for you specifically ask me. But no, I think if you're looking to specifically achieve status with American and you have the American card, you're loyal to American. I think that's what's important. Now, again, it's not my favorite airline, it's just the one that has the most options from where we live. So we have to go American, but is use the rocket miles option through American to be able to accrue loyalty points that way. To use a advantage shopping, to be able to find places that you're already going to buy something from anyway and accrue more loyalty points. And then the third option is dining. So make sure you sign up for a advantage dining to accrue additional loyalty points at places you go eat at anyway. [00:24:13] Speaker B: It is kind of a bummer that you have to separately enroll in these different programs. [00:24:17] Speaker C: It's kind of irritating. It would be nice if it was a one and done, but like, you're. [00:24:20] Speaker B: Already signed up, so we've made it so that you can do all these other things. [00:24:24] Speaker C: But I guess there's also another option called simply Miles. But I haven't really done a lot with that. [00:24:30] Speaker B: I signed up for simply Miles and was confused. [00:24:33] Speaker C: I haven't figured it out yet because I find success with those other three options that I talked about. [00:24:39] Speaker B: So maybe once you figure out simply Miles, we can come back and address this, because who knows? [00:24:43] Speaker C: Maybe it'll be like an addendum to the podcast. [00:24:46] Speaker B: We can do that. We can fix that. Good times. All right, well, I think that kind of wraps up this then. Stay tuned because we have more podcast episodes, and as we learn more and start to use these things, we'll record more episodes about all this good stuff, including how we are using all of our kind of latent miles that are just sitting there because we can't let them just go to waste. [00:25:16] Speaker C: They don't expire. [00:25:17] Speaker B: They don't expire. See, that's good to know. I would have thought they would have expired. So there you have it. I'm learning something new every day. Cool. Well, thanks for listening and stay tuned for more, and we'll talk to you guys later. [00:25:30] Speaker C: All right, see ya. [00:25:31] Speaker B: Bye. [00:25:32] Speaker A: Two Travel Dads Podcast is written and produced by Rob and Chris Taylor in St. Augustine, Florida. Check out past episodes in detailed show [email protected]. Slash Podcast Dash episodes. If you would like to be on two Travel Dads podcast, please send us a note through our website or, or find out [email protected]. Work.

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