5 of the easiest elite statuses to earn, and why you want them
The elite status landscape has changed a lot in recent years. Status has gotten harder to attain and its perks have generally become less useful.
Because of this, it can be difficult to justify flying tens of thousands of miles with one airline or spending dozens of nights at the same hotel chain in a single year — and spending thousands of dollars — in order to qualify.
Nevertheless, there's still value to be had with airline and hotel elite status. And thankfully, some programs make it easier to qualify than others.
Here's a look at five of the easiest airline and hotel loyalty programs to earn status with and why they’re worth your consideration.
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One of the easiest airlines to earn elite status with is Asiana. That's because the program gives you 24 months to meet the qualification requirements, as opposed to 12 months like with most airline loyalty programs. Then, it lets you keep your status for the remainder of the initial 24-month period, plus the following 24 months.
You'll want to go after Asiana's mid-tier Diamond status, which requires a modest 40,000 elite miles or 50 flights with Asiana Airlines. The number of elite miles you earn is based on the distance flown and the fare class, not how much you spend. Check out Asiana's partner page to see how much you'll earn on partner airlines.
Related: What are airline alliances, and who’s in them?
Even if you're based in the U.S., you can greatly benefit from having elite status with a foreign airline like Asiana. As a Star Alliance Gold member of a foreign program, you'll enjoy perks like priority check-in, a free checked bag and lounge access whenever you fly with an alliance member, including on domestic U.S. itineraries. Meanwhile, those who earn Star Alliance Gold status through United only get lounge access when traveling internationally.
You'll also get access to preferred seats when flying on United, but not extra-legroom Economy Plus.
Related: 5 reasons I pursued elite status with a foreign airline
ANA Mileage Club
This program is ideal for anyone who currently has elite status with a competing airline but wants Star Alliance status instead.
Now through Sept. 28, ANA Mileage Club is offering status matches for those who currently hold elite status with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines or another eligible competitor. Gifted statuses will be valid through March 31, 2023, and, unlike most other status match offers, there's no flight requirement to take advantage.
Depending on your current elite status, ANA will match you to either entry-level Bronze status or mid-tier Platinum status. By qualifying for Platinum, you’ll also earn Star Alliance Gold status, which gets you the same benefits discussed above.
Crediting your flights to ANA Mileage Club means you'll earn highly valuable redeemable miles. For instance, with ANA, you’ll be able to book round-trip business-class awards to Europe for just 88,000 miles round-trip. Meanwhile, United MileagePlus normally charges 73,000-plus miles one-way when you book with a partner airline.
Related: Current airline elite status match and challenge options you should know about
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Alaska is one of the few U.S. airlines that still issues elite status based on actual miles flown without a spending requirement. All Alaska flights, including in basic economy, earn a minimum of 100% of the miles flown, while tickets booked into higher fare classes earn bonus miles.
Entry-level MVP status requires just 20,000 elite qualifying miles or 30 segments with Alaska or its partners. That equates to about four transcontinental round-trip flights in one year. Key perks of MVP status include a 50% mileage bonus, two free checked bags, access to preferred seats and upgrades to premium class and first class up to 48 hours before departure.
Alaska is a Oneworld member but maintains partnerships with a handful of airlines outside of the alliance. These include Icelandair, Korean Airlines and Singapore Airlines.
Alaska also offers a status match challenge that lets elite members of competing programs fast-track status.
Related: 5 reasons I love having entry-level elite status with Alaska
American Airlines AAdvantage
In early 2022, American Airlines completely revamped how you earn elite status with the introduction of Loyalty Points. Now, you can not only earn elite status through flying, but also through a wide range of everyday activities, including spending on cobranded credit cards, dining out, ordering flowers, staying at hotels and filling up your gas tank.
Although earning American status might be more costly for those who previously earned their status through flying, there are now more ways to qualify than ever. Theoretically, you can now earn status without ever stepping foot on a plane. Earn status simply by ordering wine? Totally possible.
Plus, American sometimes offers a fast track to elite status to World of Hyatt elite members, and vice versa.
Related: 14 ways to earn Loyalty Points
You can shortcut your way to Hilton Honors status simply by carrying the right credit card — no stays required. For example, you can enroll for automatic Hilton Gold status if you have the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express. Although not as valuable, Platinum cardholders can also enroll in automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.
Perks of Hilton Gold status include extra points, upgrades to preferred rooms and a food and beverage credit of $10-$25 per person at most brands in the United States or a continental breakfast abroad. If you want suite upgrades, you'll need top-tier Diamond status, which you can get by opening the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.
Even without a Hilton credit card, there are ways to fast-track elite status. For instance, you can currently earn Diamond status after just 12 nights by completing a status challenge.
Related: 8 ways to maximize Hilton Honors redemptions
Hotel and airline status can do wonders in the travel world. It can put you at the front of the plane, get you a more spacious room, unlock airport or hotel lounge access and open up better customer service. If you pick your programs wisely, you can earn status without much travel or spending.