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

Jan. 02, 2020
4 min read
Delta One
If you didn't requalify for airline elite status, here's what you should know
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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.

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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 image by You can book Delta One awards for very low rates by transferring your Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic (Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
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  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees