For years now, frequent flyers have been buying plane tickets on long-haul flights and traveling to places they didn’t need to be just to rack up enough miles to earn elite status with an airline loyalty program.
But now, these “mileage runs” could become a thing of the past as airlines change how they grant elite status and as some offer an easier way to qualify as an elite flyer: Cold, hard cash.
Delta recently announced its Elevate Your Status program, which allows you to buy your way into a higher status tier for 2019.
If you fly Delta often and enjoy the perks that come with elite status — unlimited free upgrades, priority boarding, free checked bags and more — it might be worth it to purchase a bundle of the qualifying miles that count toward Delta’s Diamond, Platinum, Gold or Silver Medallion status tiers. Or maybe not. The only way to be sure is to log on to your Delta account and run the numbers.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Logged in to your Delta SkyMiles account, look at the number of Medallion Qualifying Miles, Medallion Qualifying Segments and Medallion Qualifying dollars you need to get to the next tier. Not everyone is eligible for the Elevate Your Status opportunity. If you are, you’ll see a link giving you a chance to purchase any of several “bundles” of qualifying units to get you to the next status tier for 2019. Any qualifying miles that exceed the amount needed to achieve Medallion Status for 2019 will roll over and count toward your 2020 status.
If you plan to fly Delta a lot next year, consider whether the free upgrades, checked bags and other benefits make your upfront purchase worthwhile.
You have until Feb. 28, 2019, to participate.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Delta debuts a starter card for infrequent travelers
Best travel credit cards of 2018
9 unsung ways to earn airline miles for free