How to get airline elite status

16 March 2023

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.

For air travelers, airline status makes trips more comfortable, rewarding and enjoyable.

In the last decade, airlines have redesigned their elite status programs to favor high spenders over frequent travelers. Previously, airline elite status was largely earned on the distance you flew and the number of flights you took, but now, airline status could be within reach, whether you’re a high spender or frequent budget traveler.

Let’s review the major U.S. airline programs and how they award elite status. Since this is TPG, we’ll also share some lesser-known ways to earn elite status.

Before we jump in, we recommend checking out the current status matches and challenges. Multiple airlines offer you status if you have it with another airline. It’s a great way to start with elite status on day one.

How to earn MVP status on Alaska Airlines

An Alaska Airlines Airbus A320. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Alaska Airlines is the only major legacy carrier that issues elite-qualifying and redeemable miles based on how far you fly rather than how much you spend.

Here’s what it takes to qualify for Alaska MVP status:

MVP: 20,000 miles or 30 segments on Alaska and partners, plus at least two segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
MVP Gold: 40,000 miles or 60 segments on Alaska and partners, plus at least six segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 miles or 90 segments on Alaska and partners, plus at least 12 segments marketed and operated by Alaska.
MVP Gold 100K: 100,000 miles or 140 segments on Alaska and partners, plus at least 24 segments marketed and operated by Alaska.

If you hold status with another airline, check to see if you’re eligible for an Alaska Airlines status match. Alaska has a designated status match landing page.

As an upper elite member of another program, you could be status matched up to MVP Gold 75K, which provides Oneworld Emerald status. That means you’d have access to Oneworld first-class lounges like Japan Airlines First Class lounge in Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT).

Alaska elites also enjoy upgrades on some American Airlines flights.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

How to earn AAdvantage status on American Airlines

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

Unlike other airlines, American Airlines uses a different annual cycle for its elite program. Members earn status between March 1 and Feb. 28 each year rather than Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

Here’s how many Loyalty Points are required for each status tier:

Gold: 40,000 Loyalty Points.
Platinum: 75,000 Loyalty Points.
Platinum Pro: 125,000 Loyalty Points.
Executive Platinum: 200,000 Loyalty Points.

You’ll also unlock various Loyalty Point Rewards as you accrue Loyalty Points.

With a few notable exclusions, you earn 1 Loyalty Point for every AAdvantage mile. There are some sweet spots for earning Loyalty Points quickly on long-haul, non-AA-issued partner tickets and Rocketmiles hotel stays.

You can also earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent on a cobranded AAdvantage credit card. In other words, you could earn top-tier Executive Platinum status without even stepping foot on an American flight by spending $200,000 on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. The only exception to this rule is the no-annual-fee AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard®, which earns 0.5 Loyalty Points per dollar spent across the board.

The information for the AAdvantage® Aviator® Mastercard® 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 American Airlines elite status worth?

How to earn Medallion status on Delta Air Lines

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300ER. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Delta Air Lines recently updated the Medallion program’s status requirements.

Here are the requirements for the various Medallion tiers:

Silver: 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (or 30 segments) and $3,000 in Medallion Qualification Dollars.
Gold: 50,000 MQMs (or 60 segments) and $8,000 in MQDs.
Platinum: 75,000 MQMs (or 100 segments) and $12,000 in MQDs.
Diamond: 125,000 MQMs (or 140 segments) and $20,000 in MQDs.

One of the most appealing parts of the Delta Medallion program is that you can be exempt from the MQD requirement through credit card spending on a Delta cobranded card. For Silver, Gold and Platinum status, you’re exempt from the MQD requirement if you spend $25,000 per year on your Delta card. To be exempt from the MQD requirement for Diamond status, you’ll have to charge $250,000 per year on your Delta card.

Even if you don’t spend much on a credit card, you can earn lots of MQDs from Delta’s partners. With Delta’s extensive list of partner carriers, you could earn Medallion status by spending far less than what you’d have to spend on Delta.

You can also earn MQMs through credit card spending. For example, you can earn 10,000 MQMs for every $25,000 you spend on the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card up to two times per calendar year.

Similar to Alaska, Delta offers a status match as well. If you hold status on another airline and want elite status on Delta, you can apply for a status match here.

Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth?

How to earn TrueBlue Mosaic status on JetBlue Airways

A JetBlue Airbus A321. DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

JetBlue recently suspended its Mosaic+ tier as it reworks the benefits. So, for 2023, you can only qualify for Mosaic status. Here’s a look at your three routes to earning it:

15,000 Mosaic qualifying points.
30 segments and 12,000 Mosaic qualifying points.
Spend $50,000 on eligible purchases with your JetBlue Plus Card or JetBlue Business Card.

The information for the JetBlue Plus and JetBlue Business cards have 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?

How to earn Rapid Rewards status on Southwest Airlines

Southwest Boeing 737s at LAX. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Southwest Airlines offers three status tiers: A-List, A-List Preferred and Companion Pass.

Here are the requirements for each tier:

A-List: 35,000 Tier qualifying oints or 25 one-way flights.
A-List Preferred: 70,000 Tier qualifying points or 50 flights.
Companion Pass: 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points or 100 flights.

Check out this guide for more on earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

Most travelers will probably earn the Companion Pass through qualifying points. You can earn these qualifying points through Rapid Rewards activities, including:

Flying on Southwest.
Spending with travel partners like hotels and car rental agencies.
Dining through the Rapid Rewards Dining program.
Opening and/or using a Southwest credit card like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Of these activities, the latter three earn points toward the Companion Pass but not toward A-List or A-List Preferred status.

Southwest offers a status match, too. You can apply for a Southwest A-List status match here.

Related: What is Southwest Airlines elite status worth?

How to earn Premier status on United Airlines

United Express E175 at RDM. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

United Airlines changed its Premier program in 2019 by introducing Premier qualifying points and Premier qualifying flights. The airline has brought back its pre-pandemic requirements for 2023:

Premier Silver: 12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs or 5,000 PQPs.
Premier Gold: 24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs or 10,000 PQPs.
Premier Platinum: 36 PQFs and 12,000 PQPs or 15,000 PQPs.
Premier 1K: 54 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs or 24,000 PQPs.

You’ll earn 1 PQP for every dollar spent on United and partner flights. You’ll earn one PQF for every takeoff on a United or eligible Star Alliance partner flight.

In my opinion, one of the best-kept secrets of the Premier program is the ability to earn PQPs on long-haul, premium cabin partner flights not issued by United. By strategically planning your trip, you can earn up to 3 PQPs for each dollar spent on a partner — or put differently, you can earn status three times faster than on United.

You can also earn PQPs through MileagePlus cobranded credit card spending, but it’s generally not a great deal. You’ll earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 spent.

You can earn up to 1,000 PQPs per year on the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Business Card, up to 6,000 PQPs per year on the United Quest℠ Card and up to 8,000 PQPs per year on the United Club℠ Infinite Card.

Through RewardsPlus, Premier Gold and higher members receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, while Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members receive United Premier Silver status.

Lastly, United also offers status matches. For more information and to apply, visit this page.

Related: What is United Airlines elite status worth?

Bottom line

With status challenges, matches, credit card spending and other options, there are plenty of ways to earn your airline status of choice this year.

Be sure to evaluate your options before spending thousands of dollars on a cobranded airline credit card to ensure that this route is the status-earning option that’ll work best for you. Also, remember to double-check the fine print to see that you’re meeting requirements by the due date so you can enjoy status for as long as possible.

Additional reporting by Eric Rosen.

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