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Last-minute tips for locking in airline elite status

Nov. 25, 2022
13 min read
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Having airline elite status provides generous benefits when you fly, like complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, airport lounge access and more. However, the end of the year is just around the corner, and many readers haven't reached their elite status goals yet.

With that in mind, we've compiled last-minute tips to help you earn airline elite status for 2023 and beyond.

How to earn airline elite status

Elite status qualification varies among the airlines. While some loyalty programs center around how much you spend and how much you fly, others have simple points-based programs.

Also, keep in mind that the end of each airline's elite status year isn't always based on the calendar year. Sometimes, you have a few extra months to reach your elite status goals. For example, American Airlines ends the elite year on Feb. 28, while British Airways requires you earn enough tier points for your desired status tier within your account's membership year.

Here's a closer look at how to earn elite status with all the major U.S. airlines.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Status tierElite qualifying milesElite qualifying segmentsMinimum number of Alaska segments
MVP20,000.30.2.
MVP Gold40,000.60.6.
MVP Gold 75K75,000.90.12.
MVP Gold 100K100,000.140.24.

End of elite status year: Dec. 31.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has one of the best loyalty programs available, but if you want to earn MVP elite status, you'll need to book flights to earn those miles. With Alaska Airlines, you'll earn more miles by booking longer routes, so maximize your routing to go the long way around to your destination. Travelers with elite status can use the same-day confirmed change benefit to add additional layovers to increase the miles earned.

If you're close to reaching your desired status level, consider buying miles to top off your account. Alaska Airlines offers some members the option to purchase elite status outright or buy the miles needed to earn or retain status. Offers vary by person, so contact Alaska Airlines to see if you qualify.

Since Alaska Airlines doesn't have a minimum spending requirement for elite status, mileage runs still work to reach your goals. If you're close, keep in mind that Alaska offers a minimum of 500 elite qualifying miles on every segment, so quick flights between close cities (like Los Angeles and Las Vegas) rack up miles quickly on the cheap. Transcontinental flights are another option if you're further away from your goal.

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Related: Last-minute strategies for Alaska Mileage Plan elite status

American Airlines AAdvantage

DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY
 GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
Loyalty Points30,000.75,000.125,000.200,000.

End of elite status year: Feb. 28.

American Airlines switched to a points-based system in early 2022. AAdvantage members now need to earn a set number of Loyalty Points from flights, credit card purchases and other eligible activities to earn or retain elite status.

You'll earn 1 Loyalty Point for every award mile earned from flights on American Airlines, any Oneworld partner and other partner airlines like JetBlue and GOL. Members who already have elite status receive up-to-120% status mileage bonuses on paid flights, which gives them a head start on retaining elite status.

For every mile earned from any of the AAdvantage credit cards, you'll also receive 1 Loyalty Point. Make use of your AAdvantage credit card category bonuses to earn more Loyalty Points toward elite status. Just remember that the miles and points need to post to your account before the qualification period ends, so pay attention to your credit card's statement closing date.

Members can also earn Loyalty Points when dining, shopping online and with other partners. Sign up for AAdvantage Dining to earn miles at participating restaurants. Then, shop at over 1,200 online stores through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to earn additional miles and Loyalty Points. If you're shopping online for holiday sales, using the shopping portal is an excellent strategy.

Related: Last-minute strategies for earning American AAdvantage elite status

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY
 SilverGoldPlatinumDiamond
Flights25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments.50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs.75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs.125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs.
Dollars3,000 Medallion Qualification Dollars or MQD waiver.6,000 MQDs or MQD waiver.9,000 MQDs or MQD waiver.15,000 MQDs or MQD waiver.

End of elite status year: Jan. 31.

Delta Medallion elite status is based on a combination of your flights and how much you spend with the airline each year. Depending on how you fly, you can meet the flight requirements based on the miles earned or segments flown. Delta also requires members to spend a certain amount based on the elite status level. However, you can earn a waiver on the spending requirement based on eligible purchases from select Delta cobranded credit cards.

Buying miles from Delta is one of the easiest yet most expensive ways to earn miles toward elite status. Because of how much Delta charges to buy miles, we recommend this only for situations where you need just a few miles to reach elite status.

A better option is to earn Medallion Qualification Miles through spending on a Delta cobranded credit card. Each card offers a different maximum number of MQMs you can earn each year. Some Delta credit cards also offer MQMs as part of the welcome bonus for new cardholders.

For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card includes 10,000 MQMs in the welcome bonus and the ability to earn up to 60,000 MQMs each year. You'll earn 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend, up to 60,000 MQM annually.

Meanwhile, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card currently includes 5,000 MQMs in the welcome bonus and awards 10,000 MQMs when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year, up to 20,000 MQMs per year.

As mentioned, spending on eligible Delta credit cards waives the spending requirement for elite status. For Silver through Platinum Medallion elite status, the MQM spending requirement is waived with $25,000 in annual spending. However, for top-tier Diamond Medallion elite status, you'll have to spend $250,000 to waive the Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement.

Note that Delta's MQD requirements will rise for all elite tiers but Silver Medallion next year.

Related: Last-minute strategies for earning Delta Medallion elite status

JetBlue TrueBlue

BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
 PointsSegments + pointsCredit card
Mosaic15,000.30 segments + 12,000 points.$50,000 spending.

End of elite status year: Dec. 31.

JetBlue only offers one level of elite status for its TrueBlue members: Mosaic.

Mosaic elite status is earned based on points earned from flying, a combination of segments flown and points earned, or spending on your JetBlue credit card. TrueBlue members earn 3 points per dollar when booking JetBlue flights (or 1 point per dollar on Blue Basic fares), which means you're spending thousands of dollars on flights to earn Mosaic status each year. If you want to earn status based on points, there isn't a shortcut.

Instead, you can earn Mosaic status by spending $50,000 within a calendar year on the JetBlue Plus Card or the JetBlue Business Card. For big spenders, this is an easier path versus booking so many flights.

The information for the JetBlue Plus Card and JetBlue Business 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.

Related: What is JetBlue elite status worth in 2022?

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
 One-way flightsA-List tier qualifying pointsCompanion Pass tier qualifying points
A-List25.35,000.N/A.
A-List Preferred50.70,000.N/A.
Companion Pass100.N/A.125,000.

End of elite status year: Dec. 31.

Southwest Airlines offers two levels of elite status plus its popular Companion Pass. To qualify for these benefits, you must fly frequently or earn the corresponding qualified points.

A-List tier qualifying points are earned based on paid flights and spending on eligible Southwest credit cards. For every $10,000 you spend on most Southwest credit cards — like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card — you'll earn 1,500 A-List TQPs. However, spending on the entry-level Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card does not qualify.

Although the points requirements are much higher, there are many more ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. However, you may want to hold off on earning the Companion Pass until January 2023 to enjoy its benefits through the end of 2024. If you earn it in 2022, it will expire in December 2023. Remember, however, that you'll need to earn 135,000 points for the Companion Pass starting in January 2023.

All points from welcome bonuses, spending on any Southwest credit card and purchases with partners count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. This includes shopping online through the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, hotel stays booked through Rocketmiles, dining at Rapid Rewards Dining locations and more.

Related: Why I'm still booking Southwest despite striving for American elite status

United Airlines MileagePlus

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
 2021 and 2022 requirementsPre-pandemic requirements
Premier Silver3,000 Premier qualifying points + 8 Premier qualifying flights or 3,500 Premier qualifying points.4,000 Premier qualifying points + 12 Premier qualifying flights or 5,000 Premier qualifying points.
Premier Gold6,000 PQPs + 16 PQFs or 7,000 PQPs.8,000 PQPs + 24 PQFs or 10,000 PQPs.
Premier Platinum9,000 PQPs + 24 PQFs or 10,000 PQPs.12,000 PQPs + 36 PQFs or 15,000 PQPs.
Premier 1K13,500 PQPs + 36 PQFs or 15,000 PQPs.18,000 PQPs + 54 PQFs or 24,000 PQPs.

End of elite status year: Jan. 31.

After a few years of reduced elite status requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic, United recently reintroduced standard requirements to earn elite status for 2023. If earning United elite status is important to you, it makes sense to earn it now before the requirements increase.

MileagePlus elite status is based on points or a combination of points and flights. You need to earn a set number of Premier qualifying points each year or a combination of a lower number of PQPs and Premier qualifying flights. You'll earn 1 PQP for every dollar you spend on airfare with United, and each one-way flight is a PQF.

Remember that PQPs are earned on the base airfare amount and they exclude taxes and fees. Purchasing domestic flights is a surefire way to book flights with low taxes and fees. However, international flights often include high taxes and fees, so the number of PQPs you earn could be much lower than your fare price.

During check-in for your flight, consider purchasing the "Award Accelerator" option. While this add-on is expensive, it can be a quick way to get the PQPs you need to earn elite status if you're a few points short.

Additionally, when you book flights through United's Star Alliance partners, you often get more bang for your buck. These flights earn PQPs based on the length of the flight, the fare class and the airline that operates the flight.

You can also earn PQPs by spending on United cobranded credit cards. For every $12,000 you spend on eligible United cards, you'll receive 500 PQPs. In 2022, you can earn up to 4,000 PQPs, depending on your card. Currently, the United Club Infinite Card has the highest PQP limit. Note that these limits — and the thresholds to earn elite status — will increase next year.

Related: Last-minute strategies for earning United Premier elite status

Bottom line

Airline elite status offers numerous benefits while traveling. As we near the end of the year, you may be short of earning your desired airline elite status. While the traditional strategy is booking additional flights to earn elite status, many airlines provide a simpler path through their cobranded credit cards, online shopping portals and dining programs. If you're short of your elite status goals, use these strategies to earn or retain your elite status ahead of your 2023 travel plans.

Featured image by GARY JOHN NORMAN/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • 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