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In the wake of Delta’s huge SkyMiles program devaluation announcement yesterday, as well as the fact that both United and Delta have instituted spending requirements for elite status, I know a lot of Delta Medallions and United Premiers are reevaluating their airline elite status strategy (myself included), so I wanted to post a quick roundup of the current status matches and challenges available to flyers seeking to leverage their current airline elite status for matching elite status with a competing carrier. Here’s are the airlines currently offering status challenges and matches, as well as a few more ideas for earning elite status faster.
Alaska (Status Match)
This is a great option for the Delta Medallions looking for another program since you can credit your Delta flights to Alaska’s MileagePlan program and earn flight and elite-qualifying miles while still enjoying certain elite benefits on Delta. Even just low-tier MVP status at 25,000 (combined Alaska and partner) miles gets you a 50% mileage bonus on Alaska’s elite-qualifying partners including both Delta and American, and if you hit MVP 75K status, you earn a 100% mileage bonus as well as complimentary upgrades on Delta in the US and a 50% discount on Economy Comfort (25% at MVP and 50% at MVP Gold), not to mention other elite perks on both Delta and American such as free checked bags, priority check in, boarding and more. Not only that, but on some airlines like Korean Air, you’ll be able to earn EQM’s toward Alaska status, while you cannot toward Delta status even though the two are SkyTeam partners, so Alaska is a great alternative.
American (Status Challenge)
American allows status challenges (not matches, though sometimes they will match- never hurts to ask), but it requires a co-pay and that challengers earn a certain number of Elite Qualifying Points (not miles) within a 3-month period – 5,000 for Gold and 10,000 for Platinum – so they expect you to spend a certain amount of money on the airline since EQP’s are based on fare class and deeply discounted economy tickets only earn a fraction of a point per mile flown.
American does not generally do challenges for Executive Platinum, but with the recent SkyMiles changes and United also instituting elite spending requirements, it can’t hurt to ask as there have been reports of them offering them and they did match United 1K’s to Executive Platinum in 2012.
American will also charge you a fee for doing a challenge. The most recent costs were: $120 for Gold and $200 for Platinum. Once you’ve done your research, enroll in a challenge by calling AAdvantage customer service at 1 800-882-8880.
And just remember, if you’re already an American elite, or were an elite last year but just missed the requirements for 2014, back in November, American announced that it would be launching two new options for frequent flyers to pay to requalify for status if they fall short of the miles that they need this year. These options are now live and available for purchase here through May 31.
Here is how the new options breaks down:
- If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of reaching Gold status, you can boost to the status for the cost of $399. If you are you already Gold and are way off from retaining it and out of the “boost” range, you can buy it back for $649. Gold normally requires 25,000 miles or 30 segments.
- If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $899. If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $699. If you are you already Platinum and are way off from retaining it and out of “boost” range, you canbuy it back for $1,199. Platinum normally requires 50,000 miles or 60 segments.
- If you are up to 10,000 miles or 10 segments short of achieving Executive Platinum, you can boost to the status for the cost of $1,799. If you are within 5,000 miles or 5 segments short of achieving Platinum, you can boost for $1,199. Unfortunately there is not a renewal option for Executive Platinum, which usually requires 100,000 miles or 100 segments.
The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard is also currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 AA miles when you spend $10,000 in 3 months, and then if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year, you earn 10,000 EQM’s, so that can be a nice boost to your elite balance.
Delta (Status Challenge)
Although I doubt many flyers are eager to pick up Delta elite status given the multitude of terrible program changes recently including hacking away at elite same day confirmed changes, if you are interested in trying out the airline, you do have some options.
Delta’s current challenge program information can be found here. The terms state, “If you register for the offer between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 and you complete the flight requirements, your Medallion status will be maintained until February 28, 2015.” So if you are thinking about this, better get to it fast since your status will only be good for about another year.
Delta will let you challenge to/from the following levels with American and United:
So if you are AAdvantage Gold or Premier Silver, you can match to Silver Medallion by earning 8,000 MQM’s or 10 segments. And if you are AAdvantage Platinum or Premier Gold you can match to Gold Medallion status by earning 16,000 MQM’s or 20 segments. Executive Platinums, Premier Platinums and Premier 1K’s can only match to Platinum Medallion status by earning 26,000 MQM’s or flying 35 segments. All flight/MQM requirements must be completed within 90 days of enrollment. Also remember that to requalify for next year, you’ll still have to meet normal flight and spending requirements.
In terms of spending requirements, check out this post for help Determining What Spend Counts Toward Medallion Qualifying Dollars, and then also remember that you can get out of the spending requirements of between $2,500-$12,500 depending on your tier by spending $25,000 on an Amex-Delta co-branded credit card within the calendar year.
The Delta Platinum Personal or Business cards both also allow you to earn MQM’s. Each comes with a current welcome bonus of 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 35,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months and a $100 statement credit when you make your first Delta purchase within 3 months, and then you can also aarn up to 20,000 MQM’s a year (10,000 for $25,000 in calendar year spend, and another 10,000 MQM’s for a total of $50,000 in calendar year spending).
The Personal Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express also come with current welcome bonuses of 10,000 Medallion® qualifying miles and 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months and the opportunity to earn up to 30,000 MQM’s per calendar year with spend (15,000 at $30,000 and another 15,000 at $60,000).
United currently has a special challenge program for Delta Medallions. If you meet the criteria to participate, you will automatically be awarded your target status for a 90-day trial period as you complete the challenge.
You can match from Silver Medallion to Premier Silver, Gold Medallion to Premier Gold, and Platinum Medallion to Premier Platinum. There is no match to Premier 1K.
Then to retain that status, within the 90-day period, you will need to fly 7,000 qualifying flight miles or 8 flight segments to retain Premier Silver status, 12,500 qualifying flight miles or 15 flight segments to retain Premier Gold status, or 18,000 qualifying flight miles or 22 flight segments to retain Premier Platinum status.
Premier status is valid through January 2015, though this offer is currently around through March 31, and according to United, “Customers whose Offer Period enables them to meet the PQM/PQS requirement on or after July 1, 2014, will retain their matched Premier status through January 31, 2016, unless a higher Premier level is earned,” so it could be worth stalling a bit and trying to hit the requirement as late as possible to extend your status for another year – and possibly a workaround to United’s new revenue requirements.
Here are the other terms:
To be considered for Premier status through this promotion, please send your request with all necessary information by email, fax or postal mail, as follows.
- Postal mailMileage Plus Service Center
Attn: Premier Status Match
P.O. Box 6120
Rapid City, SD 57709-6121
- Your MileagePlus account number (If you are not yet a member, join today.)
- Your name, complete current mailing address and email address
- A copy of your most recent mileage summary or 2014 membership card that clearly identifies your current elite status in the frequent flyer program you are matching from
Please allow 7-14 business days for processing after receipt of your request.
Confirmation will be sent by email if your request is approved.
- Offer is not valid for members who have participated in the OnePass or MileagePlus status match program within the last 5 years.
- A Premier membership card will be not issued for the 90-day qualification period. You may enjoy Premier benefits on United, United Express or Copa Airlines-operated flights by providing your account number when making reservations or at check-in. During the 90-day period, you may not have access to all reciprocal Premier benefits with United’s partner airlines, including access to Star Alliance lounges.
- Through this offer, you will not be able to qualify for a higher Premier status level than the one you are matched to in MileagePlus. For example, if you are matched to Premier Silver, you will not be able to earn Premier Gold status through this offer, even if you will fly more than 12,500 United, United Express or Copa Airlines PQM in the Offer Period. However, you will still be able to qualify to a higher status level if you reach one of the published qualification thresholds for Premier status.
- If you are unable to complete the PQM or PQS requirement within the 90-day period, your matched MileagePlus Premier status will expire and you may be returned to a lower earned Premier level, or general member status, at United’s sole discretion.
- Qualifying PQM or PQS must be posted to your MileagePlus account.
So for today and tomorrow, 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). Here is the price breakdown, and as you can see, the new prices will be very different and much higher:
After March 1, you’ll only be able to buy up to 24,999 Preferred-qualifying miles. Buying between 1-1,999 miles will now cost $499 instead of $249, 2,000-4,999 miles will cost $699 instead of $399, 5,000-9,999 miles will cost $999 instead of $579, 10,000-14,999 miles will cost $1,499 instead of $789, and 15,000-24,999 miles will cost $2,499 instead of $989.
Just buying up to Silver status after March 1 if at least 1 Preferred Qualifying Mile will cost almost as much as you can currently pay to buy up to Platinum status (if you have at least 1 PQM). If you have been thinking about buying up to Preferred, I’d suggest doing it immediately before the new rates go into effect at the end of the month, and your status should be good through February 28, 2015.
If you want to try to get status on the airline without dropping a chunk of change they do offer trial status challenges (which is basically a paid status challenge like American’s) for between $200-$600 depending on what tier you’re going for, and you don’t need to already have status with a competitor. 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 levels: $200 for Silver, $400 for Gold and $600 for Platinum and you have to fly:
- Silver: Fly 7,500 miles or 10 segments
- Gold: Fly 15,000 miles or 20 segments
- Platinum: Fly 22,500 miles or 30 segments
- Chairman’s: 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, through February 2015.
Although US Airways and American Airlines are currently merging and are offering some reciprocal elite benefits in addition to reciprocal mileage earning/redeeming, I wouldn’t expect the two frequent flyer programs to be combined anytime soon, and probably not for benefits purposes until 2015, so I wouldn’t suggest this as a workaround to getting American AAdvantage status if that’s all you’re interested in.
Also remember that if you have the US Airways Mastercard, you can earn 10,000 Preferred Qualifying Miles each calendar year you spend $25,000 or more, so that’s a nice little benefit that can push you over the threshold for that next elite tier.
In the past, both JetBlue and Virgin America have offered status challenges and/or matches, but neither airline is currently offering one. The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.