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When you earn elite status through an airline that's part of an alliance, in a way, you’re earning two elite statuses. First, you receive benefits from the airline with which you earned your status. However, you also achieve elite status with that airline's global alliance.
Elite members of United MileagePlus, Air Canada Aeroplan and other Star Alliance loyalty programs are granted one of two elite status levels in the Star Alliance program: Silver or Gold. However, the perks of these two elite status levels are vastly different.
Here's a guide to Star Alliance Silver — including some of the easiest ways to get Star Alliance Silver status.
Star Alliance Silver benefits
There are just two published benefits to Star Alliance Silver: priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby. Unfortunately, neither of these is all that exciting for most travelers.
Priority reservation waitlist gives you priority over non-elite members when a flight is sold out. That could be useful if you'd want to waitlist for award availability. But alas, this reservations waitlist benefit expressly excludes travel on award tickets.
The priority airport standby perk can be a bit more valuable to travelers. Whether you're trying to get on an earlier flight or rebooking after a flight cancellation, Star Alliance Silver elites get higher priority on the standby list. Yet again, this benefit isn't available for those traveling on award tickets.
» Learn more: The things Star Alliance is doing right
How to get Star Alliance Silver
Travelers can earn Star Alliance Silver elite status through any of the 26 Star Alliance member airlines. Two of those 26 Star Alliance airlines are based in North America, making them the most-relevant choices for earning status.
The best choice for you will depend on the benefits offered by each airline, considering Star Alliance Silver offers limited benefits on partner airlines.
Once you earn status with an affiliated airline, you’ll get status in the Star Alliance program at the corresponding level.
United travelers can earn Star Alliance Silver elite status by earning Premier Silver elite status in MileagePlus. In 2022, a MileagePlus member must earn 3,500 Premier Qualifying Points or eight Premier Qualifying Flights plus 3,000 PQP to earn Premier Silver elite status.
In 2023, United Airlines travelers must earn 5,000 PQP in a calendar year to earn Premier Silver status. However, you can reduce that requirement to 4,000 PQP if you earn 12 PQF.
Premier Silver elite status offers much more than just Star Alliance Silver status. United Silver elites get complimentary Premier upgrades, complimentary Economy Plus extra-legroom seats at check-in, one free checked bag of up to 70 pounds, 7 bonus miles per eligible dollar spent on United flights and more.
» Learn more: How United and Marriott elites can status match
Air Canada Aeroplan
Another way to Star Alliance Silver is through Air Canada. Aeroplan members achieve Aeroplan 25K elite status after earning 3,000 Status Qualifying Dollars plus 25,000 Status Qualifying Miles or 25 Status Qualifying Segments. Aeroplan 25K elite status grants Star Alliance Silver.
However, there's an even easier way for U.S. travelers to earn Aeroplan 25K elite status and Star Alliance Silver. New cardholders of the Aeroplan® Credit Card by Chase are automatically granted Aeroplan 25K elite status.
You get this elite status for the remainder of the calendar year plus an additional calendar year. That means you'll get Aeroplan 25K elite status through Dec. 31, 2024, if you sign up for the card anytime in 2023.
Then, you can maintain your Aeroplan 25K elite status — and Star Alliance Silver — by spending $15,000 on the Aeroplan® Credit Card during the previous calendar year.
Eligible new cardholders of the Aeroplan® Credit Card can earn a welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 40,000 points after you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.
» Learn more: Best credit cards for Star Alliance airlines
Silver versus Gold benefits
As you can see, there aren't many perks to Star Alliance Silver status. Instead, the real perks are earned when travelers reach Star Alliance Gold. In addition to the two benefits of Star Alliance Silver, travelers earn the following perks upon achieving Star Alliance Gold elite status:
Priority airport check-in.
Priority baggage handling.
Extra baggage allowance.
Gold Track priority security and immigration.
Here's a closer look at the benefits for Gold-level members versus Silver.
Star Alliance Silver
Star Alliance Gold
Priority reservations waitlisting
Priority airport standby
Priority airport check-in
Extra baggage allowance
Priority baggage handling
Gold Track (priority security and immigration)
Airport lounge access
Star Alliance Silver recapped
Star Alliance Silver doesn't provide many benefits. That means it will not be worth trying to achieve on its own. Instead, focus on earning an elite status that provides more substantial benefits — such as United Premier Silver — that also provides Star Alliance Silver status.
On the other hand, Star Alliance Gold provides many more concrete benefits — including priority check-in, boarding and lounge access. So depending on your travel style, Star Alliance Gold might be worth seeking out.
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