American Airlines has launched its‘elite buy up’ offers. Each year American offers to sell customers status renewal or a higher elite tier for the coming year. The prices are usually outrageous.
These offers launch in November, which for most people is too early to consider, since there’s the chance that last minute travel could mean a higher elite level without spending money. And there’s no rush. Historically they’ve allowed buy ups through the middle of the next year, although this year’s terms and conditions do not specify an end date (presumably publishing that you have more than half a year to make your decisions depresses immediate purchase).
These offers are targeted based on:
- Current elite status (although members in the midst of a status challenge have to first retain that status before becoming eligible for paid renewal or upgrade)
- 2018 elite qualifying activity (being close to a status level)
American says the price they’re offering you may change. Once you do purchase the terms say a higher status goes into effect within 5 days, while if you’re just renewing the status goes into effect immediately as your current status expires (“or if the purchase is completed after that date, within 5 business days of the purchase being completed”).
However when purchasing you may be shown an effective date of the very next day:
Offer terms say “[a]ll current AAdvantage members are eligible to participate in this offer based upon their AAdvantage elite status level valid through January 31, 2019 and/or 2018 elite qualifying activity.” I am a current AAdvantage Executive Platinum member who has not yet requalified for 2019 and when I log in I am told I am not eligible.
I expect Gold to mostly run roughly $400 – $800; Platinum perhaps $800 – $1900; Platinum Pro $1500 – $2000; and Executive Platinum around $1800 – $2600 based on flight activity year-to-date. Those are guesses and I’m interested to learn what buy up offers you’re receiving and no doubt there will be outliers that are much higher.
The cost to buy back or buy up status has been steadily increasing, while the value of status has been decreasing. Upgrades are much harder than they used to be with airlines better monetizing their premium cabin seats. And with American prioritizing upgrades based on last 12 months of ticket spend, those who aren’t achieving status ‘the regular way’ are likely to have spent less on tickets and be lower on the upgrade totem poll even after spending thousands of dollars for status.
I genuinely don’t see the value of buying back Gold at all. Just get an AAdvantage co-brand credit card, and use the cash savings from the buy up offer to pay for Main Cabin Extra seats in advance instead of waiting until check-in. Higher status seems questionable given the high pricing, though of course it depends on how you value the benefits and how much you will use them next year. If you’re going to be flying more in the future than you did in the year you’re failing to requalify naturally it could be something to consider.