You should know by now that if I apply for a credit card or lay some plans for loyalty status, something significant, usually negative, will soon be afoot.
I recently added the American Airlines Executive card to my arsenal. It was pricey at $450 a year, but it’s my only premium card. I count premium cards as those that have an annual fee over $100 of which I can’t naturally derive the total annual fee value, but the AA Executive card served two primary functions for me: The included lounge access allowed my family of four a comfortable place to park as we wait for flights out of O’Hare, our home base, which is bereft of domestic lounges for standard bank travel cards. I was also able to add my wife as an authorized user for free, giving her free use of the lounges as well, which would be useful in 2023 and early 2024 for multiple solo trips.
$450 for lounge access certainly seems like far too much, especially because Admirals Club lounges aren’t known for being particularly good. But this was a test run to see if a family of 4, with several AA flights on the horizon, could get value out of this premium card. Naturally, shortly after getting my card in the mail, Citi announced the card’s annual fee will increase to $575 and the free authorized user benefit will vanish. If I keep the card after a year, it will cost an additional $175 to keep my wife as an authorized user. Well, experiment over.
The Executive card was going to act as a tool for another odd choice of mine. I would see if I could use it, along with AA’s other points-earning partner programs, to reach Gold status. To earn Gold status with AA, you need 40,000 loyalty points. Perhaps to the chagrin of frequent AA flyers, you can get loyalty points through credit card spending.
My dream wasn’t solely on reaching Gold with AA, though. I’m currently Gold with MGM Rewards and had no reason to believe I couldn’t retain that status for years to come. I wanted double Gold, further cementing my personal status as one of the most important influencers in the points and miles landscape. But this goofy double gold pipe dream was predicated on one thing, that I could still match my Hyatt status to MGM and retain MGM Gold.
Naturally, MGM Resorts announced they are cutting ties with Hyatt and the status match will phase out with it. I had two recent trips to Vegas, but they were split between 2022 and 2023. If they were added together, Gold would have been no problem with a little spend on my MGM credit card to top it off. But because they split the earning periods, I’m well short for 2023/2024.
I need about 60,000 MGM tier credits to retain my Gold member for next year with a little over 5 months to earn them. The MGM Rewards credit card is a poor points-earning card. I only have until the end of 2023 to qualify. There’s just not enough time.
AA Gold status shouldn’t be a problem this year. AA status resets on March 1st, so I have a couple extra months and as of this writing, only about 35,000 points to go. If I add another AA card, perhaps the Platinum Select, which at least offers 2X points at gas stations and grocery stores, Gold should be fairly easy to get now that I’ve added a gas-guzzling truck and another belly to the family. I’m not eager to add another annual fee card ($99), but The Platinum Select card doesn’t charge the fee until the second year. Because of the Executive card’s price increase, I’ll be canceling it after the first year. It’s a bit of a headache-inducing reshuffling, but not an additional cost for 2023.
But make no mistake, I won’t give up on my double Gold dreams. I will figure out a way. I’ll be in Biloxi in 2024 and stay at Beau Rivage, an MGM resort. Depending on how the trip goes and If I consolidate spending on my MGM credit card, I may be able to finally call myself a double Gold status holder, if only for a couple of months. For now, I have to show up to the Biloxi 2024 trip as an MGM Pearl member. My word how embarrassing that will be.