Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Jan 06

Elite Status: New year, more miles needed

Earlier, I discussed the difference between redeemable miles and miles toward elite status.  Redeemable miles are those you use to get free flights.  Elite status miles are based on the number of miles you fly each year and reset at the beginning of each year.  They are a “phantom” points system that help you earn status on that airline, but it is only good for that year.

Well, January 1 was the big day when everyone’s elite status miles reset to zero.  If you earned elite status in 2013, it is good until the end of 2014 (actually, it is good until a month or two into 2015 as a grace period), so your flying this year will be to renew your status for next year.  Confused yet?  Don’t be.  In fact, forget about last year.  Last year is done and you are currently coasting in 2014 on the fruits of 2013’s labor.  Your flights this year are what will help you continue with status next year.

Delta and United added a little twist to their status requirements, however.  In the past, you only needed to earn a certain amount of elite status points to get your particular level going forward.  Thus, at the end of each year, passengers who were close to the next level of elite status would do a mileage run to bump themselves up.  Delta and United caught on, however, and now, to earn elite status, you not only need to earn a certain amount of elite qualifying points but also spend a minimum amount of dollars on tickets with the airline.  Ouch.  One way around this requirement is to spend a minimum of $25,000 on a Delta co-branded American express card, which will waive the minimum ticket purchase for all levels of elite status.  On United, $25,000 in purchases with a credit card will waive the ticket spend requirement for the first three levels of elite status but, to earn United’s highest status level, you will need to fly not only 100,000 miles but also spend $10,000 on tickets.  Ouch.

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