How Credit Cards Can Help Close Your Midyear Elite Status Gap

Jul 11, 2019

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We’ve already made it through the first half of 2019, which means it’s time to evaluate your progress towards airline and hotel elite status. You have until the end of the year to earn elite status that will last through 2020, but the sooner you hit your desired tier, the longer you have access to its benefits.

If you’re starting to get close to hitting tier requirements, you can use credit cards to help you bridge the gap and hit elite status faster.

Automatic Elite Status

The easiest way to hit elite status is to apply for a card that offers automatic elite status as a benefit. While it’s rare to find an airline credit card that offers such a benefit, most hotel credit cards — including options from Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and more — come with at least the lowest tier of elite status.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Homes and Villas)
Elite status can help elevate your entire travel experience. (Photo courtesy of Marriott Homes and Villas)

If you’re someone who doesn’t travel enough to hit elite status through stays and/or spending requirements alone, these cards offer a great way to hit certain tiers. Even people who do book enough stays or spend enough with certain hotel brands to earn elite status can use cards with automatic elite status as a nice stepping stone to the next level up.

Check out our guide on the best credit cards that offer automatic elite status to see which card might be right for you. Here’s the list of the currently available personal travel credit cards offering automatic elite status to new cardholders:

Annual Fee Automatic Status Spend for Status

Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors American Express Card $0 (see rates & fees) Silver Spend $20,000 in a calendar year for Gold
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card $95 annual fee (see rates & fees) Gold Spend $40,000 or more in a calendar year for Diamond
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 (see rates & fees) Diamond

World of Hyatt 

World of Hyatt Credit Card $95 Discoverist Earn 2 additional nights per $5,000 spent

IHG Rewards

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card $89, waived for the first year Platinum

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American® Express Card $450 (see rates & fees) Gold Spend $75,000 per calendar year for Platinum
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card $95 Silver Spend $35,000 in an account year for Gold
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card $0 Silver

Radisson Rewards

Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature $75 Gold
Radisson Rewards Visa Signature $50 Silver

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature

 

$75 Platinum
Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature

 

$0 Gold

Other

The Platinum Card® from American Express $695 (see rates & fees) Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold

Enrollment required for select benefits.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Elite-Qualifying Dollar Waivers

If you’re more interested in earning elite status with your favorite airline, there are still ways that credit cards can help you get there. Delta and United both offer elite status spending waivers for those who hit certain spending thresholds on their cobranded credit cards.

For Delta SkyMiles members, the Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) requirement to reach Silver, Gold and Platinum Medallion Status will be waived if you spend at least $25,000 on an eligible Delta SkyMiles credit card within the calendar year. If you spend more than $250,000 in a calendar year, you can even receive a waiver for Diamond Medallion Status MQD requirements. (Note that the Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card is not eligible to earn waivers unless you also hold another Delta card).

With United, MileagePlus members can earn a Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum PQD requirements after spending a combined $25,000 on MileagePlus credit cards within a calendar year.  Unfortunately, MileagePlus members are unable earn a waiver for the Premier 1K® PQD requirement.

For those who can easily hit mileage requirements but not MQD or PQD thresholds, using credit card spend to earn these waivers is an excellent option if you can comfortably hit the spending requirements. These spending thresholds are decently high for both airlines. Make sure that the value you’ll get from elite status is worth the credit card spend required to get you there.

Elite Qualifying Miles

Other credit cards will offer elite qualifying miles (EQMs) in exchange for hitting certain spending requirements. For example, you can earn 10,000 EQMs for American elite status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®.

I wouldn’t suggest using this strategy when you’re starting from scratch. The amount you would have to spend would far outweigh the value you’ll get from elite status benefits. However, this is a great way to help hit the requirements when you’re close to meeting them and just need a boost.

General Spending  (For Jetblue Mosaic)

If you’re dead set on hitting Jetblue Mosaic status this year but know you won’t hit the segments or flight points requirements before the year’s end, there is another option.

Jetblue offers a shortcut for Jetblue credit cardholders. Rather than hitting requirements for flight points or segments, you can earn Jetblue Mosaic status by spending $50,000 in a year. However, if you’re already on your way to earning Jetblue status through flight points and booked segments, you’ll be better off staying the course (but of course use your Jetblue credit card to maximize rewards on those flights that count towards status).

Bottom Line

Elite status comes with some great benefits, but sometimes even frequent travelers can use some help meeting some of the requirements. Credit cards are an excellent tool to help you hit your desired status tier, especially when you’re close to hitting mileage or spending thresholds. You’ve still got nearly six months to meet the requirements for next year, but adding cards to your strategy can help get you there ahead of schedule.

For rates and fees of the Hilton Amex card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by mixetto/Getty Images

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.

Apply Now
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.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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