Should You Aim for Airline Elite Status This Year?
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The new year presents a fresh start in all things, including your rewards strategy. Now is the time to start planning your travel for the year and figure out how elite status might benefit you. Do you think you’re going to fly quite a bit or just want to experience the perks that come with status? Here are a few things you should consider when deciding whether to aim for airline elite status this year.
Are you flying enough to earn (and make use of) status?
If you’re flying enough to earn or get use out of airline elite status benefits, then you should consider pursuing it. Having elite status can provide a more comfortable travel experience, not to mention increased earnings on award flights.
That said, earning airline elite status takes work, and you shouldn’t pursue it unless you have a use for it.
Can you credit your miles to a single rewards account?
If you can credit your miles to one rewards account, you should consider aiming for airline elite status. Notice that we didn’t say you must arrange travel on a single airline. That’s because you can earn elite status by flying with partner airlines. For example, if you want to earn Alaska Mileage Plan status, you can earn credit toward elite status by flying Alaska or one of its partners, including Finnair, Emirates or even American Airlines.
So think ahead and figure out whether you can arrange your travel on carriers that have partnerships with an airline you’re trying to earn elite status with.
Will you be able to complete revenue requirements?
Most airlines in the U.S. now have revenue requirements. This means that in addition to requiring you to fly a certain number of miles or segments, they also require you to spend a certain amount to earn status. Even if you’re able to complete the mileage requirements, the additional spending may make earning status less attainable.
Luckily, there are some airlines that will waive revenue requirements if you can manage to complete a certain amount of spending on your credit card within a calendar year. If you plan on going this route, it’s definitely worth it to evaluate your spending habits and consider charging everything to one of these cards in order to meet your goal:
American Airlines' recently revamped elite status scheme now requires travelers to earn Loyalty Points to get status. Loyalty Points which can be earned through flying American and its partners, co-branded credit card spending or select spending with certain AAdvantage partners.
30,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Gold.
75,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Platinum.
125,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Platinum Pro.
200,000 Loyalty Points for AAdvantage Executive Platinum.
Delta’s requirements for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) range from $3,000 - $15,000.
Silver: $3,000 MQDs.
Gold: $6,000 MQDs.
Platinum: $9,000 MQDs.
Diamond: $15,000 MQDs.
The Medallion program will see some changes in 2023, including increases to MQD requirements for certain tiers. You can read more on that here.
Delta waives requirements for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for co-branded cardholders who complete certain spending requirements. The Silver, Gold and Platinum MQD requirement gets waived for those who complete $25,000 worth of spending requirements, while the Diamond MQD requirement is waived for those who spend $250,000 or more.
Can you complete some elite-qualifying requirements through credit card spending?
If you’re able to supplement elite qualifying miles earned from flying with those from airline credit cards, then aiming for airline status might make sense.
AAdvantage elite status
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible mile earned from purchases. This card earns 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.
» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage Executive review: Your key to the club
Delta Medallion elite status
Some of the Delta-branded credit cards offer Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) as part of the card's perks:
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card allows you to earn up to 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles with Status Boost per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year. Terms apply.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card can get you up to 60,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs up to four times per year.
JetBlue Mosaic elite status
The JetBlue Plus Card is unique in that it allows cardholders to earn TrueBlue Mosaic status entirely via credit card spending. Cardholders who put $50,000 on the card in a calendar year get upgraded to Mosaic elite status. Aiming for JetBlue Mosaic status can definitely be worth it if you can manage just under $4,200 worth of credit card spending per month.
Normally, earning Mosaic status requires 15,000 flight points or 30 segments and 12,000 flight points. Mosaic elite members get some valuable perks that can make earning status worthwhile, including:
Free change/cancellation fees for elite members and travel companions.
First and second checked bag free.
Expedited security lane access.
Complimentary alcoholic drinks onboard.
Dedicated customer service line.
United MileagePlus elite status
Starting Jan. 1, 2020, United MileagePlus introduced new requirements for determining elite status. Status is earned based on a combination of Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and Premier qualifying points (PQP).
Premier Silver: 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP.
Premier Gold: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP.
Premier Platinum: 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP.
Premier 1K: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP.
Those with the United℠ Explorer Card, United Club℠ Infinite Card, United℠ Business Card and United Club℠ Business Card can earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 spent, up to 1,000 PQP per calendar year. The PQPs can be used to earn up to Platinum elite status.
The bottom line
Whether you should aim for airline elite status this year depends largely on your travel plans. If you’ve got lots of revenue travel planned, then crediting your flights to one program could help you not only earn status but also reap the benefits of having it. If you don’t think you’ll meet airline elite status requirements on time but will benefit greatly from having it, then there are plenty of credit cards that make that a more attainable goal.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card