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

Jan 2, 2020

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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.

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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.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
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