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Over the course of this week, I’ll be going through ideas on how you can score some last-minute elite-qualifying miles on the US legacy carriers to put you over the edge for elite status qualification before the end of the year. Posts so far include Last-Minute MQM Ideas for Delta Medallion Qualification, Last-Minute Elite Status Qualification Ideas for American Flyers, Last-Minute United Premier Status Qualification Ideas, Last-Minute Virgin America Elevate Elite Status Qualification Ideas.
Of all the major legacy US airlines, US Airways is probably the easiest to attain elite status with – not because their requirements or thresholds are lower than the rest, or because you earn Preferred Qualifying Miles on car and hotel bonuses or through Buy Miles bonuses, but because you can just buy status outright if you’re determined to.
Before I get to that, though, here’s a reminder of how many miles/segments you need to qualify for each Preferred tier:
Silver: 25,000 miles or 30 segments
Gold: 50,000 miles or 60 segments
Platinum: 75,000 miles or 90 segments
Chairman’s: 100,000 miles or 120 segments
1. Buy Status: US Airways is notorious for selling status outright. For example, if you’ve never stepped foot on their planes, you can buy Chairman’s Preferred (their top status) for $3,999 (though that drops to only $2,999 as long as you have at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile) or Platinum for $2,999.($2,499 if you have at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile). You’re basically paying for up to a certain amount of miles or segments in the following increments:
Let’s say you had a few hundred or thousand Preferred Qualifying miles in your account from this year, or even just a single flight segment but were planning on a lot more US Airways flight time next year, you could buy the highest status, Chairman’s Preferred, for $2,999, and that would entitle you to a host of high-level perks including 2 one-way upgrades to First/Envoy class to or from Hawaii, Europe, South America and the Middle East – potentially making up for that entire expenditure. Still, this wouldn’t by my preferred method of earning elite status, especially if you had a ton of miles to buy to qualify.
2. Status Challenge: Though it doesn’t offer status matches, US Airways does offer trial status challenges (which is basically a paid status challenge like American’s) – so you don’t need to already have status with a competitor, and you cannot already have Preferred status. When you pay the fee and complete the flight requirements within 90 days, you get to keep your status for the rest of the year (in this case, just until February 2014).
The fee and flight requirements are:
- Silver: Pay $200 and fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments
- Gold: Pay $400 and fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments
- Platinum: Pay $600 and fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments
- Chairmans: Fly 30,000 miles or 40 segments
You can enroll for their trial Preferred offer online, and when you pay for your challenge and complete the flight requirements, you will be awarded the status level you have completed, though remember, for now it’s just good until February 2014, though you might want to wait another few months to see if the airline pushes that date back so you have status longer.
3. Credit Card Spending Bonus: Like many other airline co-branded credit cards that offer spending threshold bonuses, the US Airways Mastercard offers 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles after cardmembers hit $25,000 in spending each year, almost halfway to silver status. Would I suggest putting $25,000 on your card at this point? No. But if you’re close to that threshold and scrounging for some extra PQM’s, you could consider it. Also, if spending $25,000 in a short time is within your wheelhouse, you could wait until January to do so and score the bonus PQM’s early in the new year on your way toward elite status qualification in 2013.
4. Join the US Airways Club: A quick, easy way to score 3,000 bonus Preferred Qualifying Miles is to join the US Airways Club or renew your membership. Last month, the bonus was actually 5,000 PQM’s, but US Airways dropped it down this month, and it’s for a limited time only. If you were thinking of joining the club anyway and need those few thousand extra miles, you only have until today to join – Thursday, December 13, 2012. To get the offer, you can enroll here and then be sure to enter the promo code 2FREE. Annual membership to the US Airways club costs between $325-$450 depending on your elite status. US Airways Club membership gives you access to over 250 US Airways Club, United Club and Star Alliance lounges worldwide.
To get even more of a discount, if you have the Platinum Amex, Business Platinum or Mercedes-Benz Platinum, you can apply your $200 airline reimbursement to cover half the cost. If you don’t have the Amex Platinum, this time of year is a good time to get it because the $200 airline reimbursement benefit resets January 1, so you get $200 to spend now before the end of the year, and $200 more to spend next year, almost accounting for the entire $450 first year’s annual fee. Plus, you’ll also get access to other lounges including American, Delta and Priority Pass. Yes, you get US Airways Club access with the Platinum card, but you do not get access to United Clubs so that alone plus the 3,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles if you’re near the next qualification threshold might make this promo worth it.
5. Special Dividends: US Airways offers Special Dividends to Preferred members who fly above and beyond elite-status qualification thresholds. Those who fly 85,000 miles or 105 segments in a calendar year can gift Silver Preferred status to a friend or family member, and those who fly 125,000 miles or 150 segments you have the option to gift Gold Preferred status to a friend or family member. For the uber-flyers out there, you get additional Gold statuses to give out when you reach 150,000 miles/180 segments, 175,000 miles/210 segments, and 200,000 miles/240 segments. So even if you’re not flying anywhere close to reaching these thresholds, maybe your favorite frequent flyer is and is willing to gift you status. Never hurts to ask!
6. Double Miles Using US Airways Credit Card: If you have the US Airways Mastercard, hopefully you registered for the double miles and double elite-qualifying Preferred miles promotion the airline is on flights booked using the card. You had to register by October 31, 2012, and fly by December 31, 2012. If you did register, this is a reminder that this can be a lucrative way to rack up extra miles (including valuable PQM’s) a lot faster. US Airways was also offering double elite-qualifying Preferred miles on their East Coast shuttle flights back in September, but that promotion has ended as well. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.