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 Card from American Express $0 (see rates & fees) Silver Spend $20,000 for Gold
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend $95 (see rates & fees) Gold Spend $40,000 for Diamond
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card $450 (see rates & fees) Diamond

World of Hyatt 

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

IHG Rewards

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card $89 Platinum

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American® Express Card $450 (see rates & fees) Gold Spend $75,000 for Platinum
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card $95 Silver Spend $35,000 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


The Platinum Card® from American Express $550 (see rates & fees) Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold


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 Ascend 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

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