How to Earn Airline Elite Status Without Taking (As Many) Flights

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Love flying but don’t have the time or money to fly as much as you want? Or maybe you’re just starting out on your journey and want to reach that coveted airline elite tier status without having to take (so many) flights. Regardless of your situation, there are ways to get status with airlines without having to fly all the time to level up.high.

Participate in a Status Match or Status Challenge program

One way to earn airline elite status without flying is by participating in a Status Match or Status Challenge program. Many airlines offer these programs to entice customers from other airlines to switch and try their services – similar to the Status Match and Status Challenge programs offered by hotels.

In most cases, all you need to do is prove your current elite status with another airline and you will be matched with equivalent status with the new program. Sometimes you need to complete a certain number of flights within a certain period of time to retain your status, while other times you’ll retain status for the rest of the year and just need to requalify organically.

Occasionally, you don’t even need to have airline status to participate in a status challenge.

Benefit from the credit card advantages

Another way to earn airline elite status without flying is to take advantage of the benefits that come with certain credit cards. Some credit cards offer an opportunity to earn elite qualifying miles with the co-branded airline. Unfortunately, you usually have to spend quite a bit of money to earn airline status through credit card spending alone, but it could be a good way to get you over the threshold if you’re close.

American Airlines

American Airlines offers an opportunity to earn one Loyalty point per dollar spent on any of their credit cards. You must earn 30,000 loyalty points to qualify for American AAdvantage Gold status, American Airlines’ lowest tier status.

Delta Airlines

Delta offers the ability to earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) through a variety of credit cards.

  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders earn 10,000 MQM after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 MQM after spending $50,000 in a calendar year with the Delta Platinum card.
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders earn 15,000 MQM up to four times per calendar year after spending $30,000 on their card. Overall, Delta Reserve cardholders can earn up to 60,000 MQM after spending $120,000 or more in a calendar year.

United Airlines

United offers a few ways to earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) through credit cards.

  • The United Explorer Card and United Business Card offer the opportunity to earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 card spend, up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year.
  • The United Quest Card offers 500 PQPs for every $12,000 card spend, up to 3,000 PQPs in a calendar year.
  • The United Club Infinite Card earns 500 PQPs for every $12,000 card spend, up to 4,000 PQPs in a calendar year.

Southwest Airlines

Earning status with Southwest requires you to earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs), which you can do with some credit cards.

  • The Southwest Premier Card, Southwest Priority Card, and Southwest Performance Business Card all earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent annually, with no limit on how many TQPs you can earn.

All Southwest card spending counts toward the 125,000 Rapid Rewards points (not TQPs) that must be earned to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue offers the ability to spend your way to full-force status through its credit cards. Spend $50,000 on your JetBue Plus Card in one year and earn JetBlue Mosaic status.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier credit card holders can earn one qualifying mile for every dollar spent with the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard.

Spirit Airlines

Free Spirit Travel holders of more World Elite Mastercard cards can purchase one Status-Qualifying Point (SQP) for every $10 spent on the card.

Speaking of American Airlines…

American Airlines is currently one of the most accessible US airlines. Credit card spending counts not only toward loyalty point requirements for status, but also a host of other activities, also. You earn loyalty points when you

  • Fly with American, its Oneworld partners and JetBlue
  • Use an AAdvantage credit card
  • Dine through AAdvantage Dining
  • Buy online through the eShopping portal
  • Compete with other eligible partners like SimplyMiles

Whether it’s worth pursuing elite airline status depends on your personal situation, but not just having to fly to qualify can make a difference. Many airlines offer other ways to gain status besides flying, and some do You can even earn status without even flying – whether it’s worth it or not is up to you though.

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