If you didn’t requalify for airline elite status, here’s what you should know

Jan 2, 2020

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.

Did a last-ditch mileage run not plan out? Were you short a few hundred dollars or miles of reaching status?

If this sounds familiar, and you didn’t requalify for airline elite status, this post is for you. We’ve talked about specific last-minute elite-qualification strategies for Delta, United, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Southwest, but today we’ll remind you of what you can still do if you fell short of your goal.

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

Is it worth it to buy up to status if you didn’t requalify?

If you didn’t requalify but you’re desperate for status, you can consider buying up to the level you want, though this is almost always a bad value and not worth it. For example, Delta released its offer to buy up to Medallion elite status, and the prices are expensive. The cheapest package, which only earns 1,000 MQMs, 3 MQSs and $999 MQDs, costs a full $999 to buy. These offers appear to still be available, though I wasn’t able to access them myself (more on that below).

The rates get a bit better as you go up the chart, but if you were to buy up to Silver status from scratch (the most expensive package shown), it would cost you $3,599. Meanwhile, Nick Ewen only values Silver Medallion status at $750. This hefty expense might make more sense if you were buying up from Platinum to top-tier Diamond, but again it’s a tough sell.

Related: What is Delta elite status worth?

Not everybody will be eligible to buy up to Delta status, anyway. Delta’s own website says that if you are a general SkyMiles member (no status, like me), you must be within range to reach Silver Medallion Status by purchasing the maximum bundle of MQMs, MQSs and MQDs in order to be eligible.

According to the Delta Elevate Your Status website, you have until Feb. 29, 2020 to buy up to status if you choose to go this route.

American’s elite status offers are a bit less egregious, with a few TPG staffers receiving offers to buy up to AAdvantage Gold status for anywhere from $649 to $1,415. American also lets you redeem miles to buy up to elite status, though at a pretty poor rate of 1 cent per mile or even less. Unlike Delta, these offers are targeted to individual users based on their year to date activity with AA, so make sure to check your account to see your offer.

I didn’t hit AA Gold status for 2020, so before the end of the year, I was targeted with an offer to buy up to Gold. I decided to pass but checked my offer today and saw that it’s $745 or 74,500 AA miles, the same as two weeks ago when I initially checked.

Related: What is American Airlines elite status worth?

In either of these cases, you’ll want to assess your own travel plans in 2020, and if the cash outlay to buy elite status is worth the benefits. For some, it makes more sense to apply for a travel rewards credit card that offers elite-like perks such as free checked baggage, priority boarding or airport lounge access instead.

Bottom line

If you didn’t qualify for 2020, American Airlines and Delta flyers can still buy up to elite status. However, this method isn’t cheap and only makes sense if you can get enough value from elite benefits to justify the cost.

Ethan Steinberg contributed to this post.

Featured photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.