Skip to content

Act fast: How to earn Oneworld Emerald status for under $3,000 this year

Aug. 24, 2022
8 min read
British Airways plane at the gate in London Heathrow Terminal 5
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

With advance seat selection, a route to Hilton Honors Diamond status, first-class lounge access and a track to lie-flat seat upgrade certificates, there's much to love about British Airways' top-tier Gold status.

To qualify, you need to earn 1,500 Tier Points in a calendar year; however, for 2022, the status requirements have been reduced by 25%.

So 2022 is your opportunity to earn the 1,125 Tier Points (plus four British Airways segments) needed for British Airways Gold status. And despite BA being a foreign airline, it includes Oneworld Emerald status, which has big benefits for U.S.-based travelers.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Why a US-based flyer would want BA Gold status

British Airways Gold elite members will have benefits on American Airlines and other Oneworld carriers. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Before we discuss how to earn BA Gold status this year, let's look at why a U.S.-based traveler would want to pursue elite status on Britain's largest airline.

Since British Airways is a Oneworld member like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, you get reciprocal benefits on all Oneworld airlines. BA Gold elite status includes the following benefits whenever you fly a Oneworld carrier:

  • Access to first- and business-class lounges.
  • Access to first-class priority check-in.
  • "Fast Track" or "Priority Lane" access at select airports worldwide.
  • Priority baggage handling.
  • Extra baggage allowance.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority on waitlists and when on standby.
  • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.

Certain fare classes (like basic economy) are excluded from some benefits, and other exceptions apply to the BA Gold and Oneworld Emerald benefits list. Regardless, this is a generous list of benefits you can enjoy when you fly with Alaska and American.

Also, while top-tier Alaska and American elite members enjoy Oneworld Emerald status, their status doesn't get them into the Alaska Lounge, Admirals Club or Flagship Lounge when traveling on domestic itineraries. With BA Gold, however, you'll have access to all three of these lounges — even on domestic flights.

Of course, BA Gold comes with benefits on British Airways too. This includes:

Sign up for our daily newsletter
  • First-class check-in and boarding.
  • Free seat selection for most seats at booking.
  • Access to First lounges.
  • Extra baggage allowance.
  • Additional reward flight availability.
  • 100% bonus Avios.
  • Member-only offers.
  • No booking or service fees for Priority Reward bookings.
  • Gold Priority Reward.
  • Additional reward flight availability in economy.
  • Gold upgrade for two vouchers (at 2,500 Tier Points in one year).
  • Two Gold upgrades for one voucher (at 3,500 Tier Points in one year).
  • One Gold Executive Club partner card and two Silver cards (at 5,000 Tier Points in one year and 3,000 Tier Points thereafter).
  • Concorde Room access (at 5,000 Tier Points in one year and 3,000 Tier Points thereafter).

You're also eligible for Hilton Honors Diamond elite status after you earn 5,000 Tier Points in your first qualification year, and 3,000 Tier Points per year after that.

Related: 5 reasons I pursued elite status with a foreign airline

An introduction to earning Tier Points

You can earn British Airways Tier Points with BA and partner flights. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The easiest way to see the number of Tier Points you'll earn from a flight is by going to the British Airways Tier Points calculator on its website. You can type in your origin, destination, airline and Executive Club tier. If you have status with British Airways, you'll earn bonus Avios — redeemable for award travel — but your Tier Point accrual does not change based on your status.

For example, a one-way flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) earns 35 Tier Points in the L fare class.

(Screenshot from britishairways.com)

It's important to remember that, unlike earning elite status with most U.S. airlines, your ticket price does not affect your Tier Points accrual. In turn, the key is to find a fare class that earns a generous number of Tier Points based on your ticket price.

Related: British Airways reduces Silver status requirements again — but there’s a catch

How to quickly earn Tier Points in the US

You can earn Tier Points quickly on Alaska Airlines short-haul flights. (Photo by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock)

Now that we've established the fundamentals of British Airways Tier Points, let's look at how you can earn lots of Tier Points on discounted North American flights. At the end of each example, we'll show you the cost per Tier Point at the time of writing.

40 Tier Points: Short-haul first class

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

Alaska Airlines offers some bargain-priced short-haul first-class tickets. For example, you can fly from San Jose's Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for $89.

These flights, which are normally in the I fare class — indicated by "First Class (I)" above — earn 40 Tier Points per the Tier Point calculator. Theoretically, you could earn 1,125 Tier Points after 29 short-haul first-class flights, which would cost just over $2,500.

Cost: $2.23 per Tier Point.

180 Tier Points: Connecting medium-haul first class

(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

Connecting first-class flights can also help you earn more Tier Points. For example, this flight from San Jose to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) connects through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). You'll earn 40 Tier Points for the first leg and 140 Tier Points for the second leg.

You'll walk away with 180 Tier Points after spending just $379. After three round-trip flights like this, you will have earned 1,080 of the 1,125 Tier Points needed for BA Gold.

Cost: $2.11 per Tier Point.

220 Tier Points: Long-haul Hawaii

(Screenshot from google.com/flights)

The next example we're looking at is a round-trip premium economy flight from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) by way of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). The mainland U.S. flights are ticketed in the H fare class (economy class) and earn 20 Tier Points per leg, while flights to Hawaii are ticketed in the P fare class and earn 90 Tier Points each.

So for about $1,000, you earn 220 Tier Points in this case.

Cost: $4.67 per Tier Point.

440 Tier Points: Peru in business class

(Screenshot from google.com/flights)

This flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) connects through Miami International Airport (MIA). It is ticketed the whole way through in the I fare class. The domestic flights earn 40 Tier Points each, while the flights to Peru earn 180 Tier Points each. By taking this round-trip ticket, you'll earn 440 Tier Points — that's over a third of your way to Gold status.

Cost: $3.51 per Tier Point.

Related: What does British Airways elite status get you, and how do you earn it?

Bottom line

By searching on the British Airways Tier Points Calculator, you'll become acquainted with some sweet spots that earn lots of Tier Points, but it's going to be hard to beat Alaska's low-cost first-class fares. You won't qualify for Gold status without four British Airways-marketed and -operated flights, so make sure to factor that into your status chase too.

When you qualify for BA Gold, you'll enjoy Oneworld Emerald benefits like access to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge — even on domestic U.S. flights — something your fellow Alaska Airlines and American Airlines Oneworld Emeralds won't have access to.

That might be a reason to pursue Gold status with British Airways, especially if you can get there for under $3,000.

Featured image by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees