Eyeing elite status with your airline of choice? We don’t blame you. Along with status comes a variety of benefits, like lounge access, free checked bags, complimentary upgrades, early boarding, bonus earning rates and more.
See our best credit card bonuses here.
If you want to fast-track to elite status, you’ll want to open an airline rewards card that helps you earn elite-qualifying dollars and/or elite-qualifying miles. In this guide, we’ll cover the credit cards of six major U.S. carriers that can help you unlock elite status.
To unlock Mileage Plan elite status, you need a certain amount of Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) and either enough Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) or Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). Here are the current status requirements:
Since EQSs are earned by flying, credit cards will only help you earn EQDs and/or EQMs.
*The above requirements are for earning elite status in 2021. For up-to-date information, click here for our source.
With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, earn 10,000 EQMs after hitting the $40,000 spending requirement in a calendar year.
Other AAdvantage perks include Admirals Club membership, one free checked bag on domestic itineraries and priority boarding.
Delta Air Lines
To earn Medallion elite status, you need a certain number of Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) and either enough Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs). Below are the current Medallion requirements:
The MQD requirement for all status levels is waived if you hold the cobranded cards below and have a combined spend of:
- $25,000 in one calendar year (for Silver/Gold/Platinum qualification)
- $250,000 in one calendar year (for Diamond qualification)
All of the cards we list below will also help you earn MQMs.
With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, earn 10,000 MQMs after hitting the $25,000 spending requirement in a calendar year. You’ll get another 10,000 MQMs when you spend $50,000 in a calendar year.
As mentioned before, the MQD requirement is waived if you’re a SkyMiles Platinum cardholder and you spend $25,000 for Silver, Gold or Platinum qualification, or $250,000 for Diamond qualification.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card lets you earn 15,000 MQMs each time you spend $30,000, for up to four times each calendar year. That means you’ll earn 60,000 MQMs after spending $120,000 in a calendar year.
SkyMiles Reserve cardholders also benefit from the same MQD waiver mentioned before.
To earn Frontier elite status, you’ll need either a certain number of Qualifying Miles or Qualifying Segments in a calendar year. Here are the current status requirements:
|STATUS||Qualifying Miles||Qualifying Segments|
Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
With the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard, earn 1x Qualifying Miles on all purchases. That means you can unlock Frontier’s highest elite tier on credit card spending alone.
Other Frontier perks include priority boarding, access to family pooling, the ability to keep your points from expiring by making a purchase every six months, and an award redemption fee waiver when you use your card to pay for award taxes and fees. You’ll also earn a $100 flight voucher when you spend $2,500 in one membership year.
|Welcome Bonus||50,000 points when you spend $500 within the first 90 days.|
|Earning Rates||5x points on Frontier purchases|
3x points at restaurants
1x points on everything else
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None|
JetBlue has one level of elite status – Mosaic – and there are two qualifying ways to earn it:
- 30 flight segments + 12,000 base points
- 15,000 base points
As you can see, Mosaic status isn’t very difficult to achieve. And with the JetBlue Plus Card, it’s even easier…
Southwest Airlines has two elite status tiers, A-List and A-List Preferred, which you can unlock with Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) or by flying a certain number of segments within a calendar year:
All of the cards we list below will help you earn TQPs.
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend. This feature is capped at $100,000 in spending per year for up to 15,000 TQPs annually. You’ll also enjoy a 6,000-point anniversary bonus.
Like its Southwest Premier sibling, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card lets you earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend. This feature is also capped at $100,000 in spending every year for up to 15,000 TQPs annually.
As you might guess, earn up to 15,000 TQPs annually when you spend $100,000 (1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spend) on the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card.
To unlock Premier status, you need to earn a certain amount of Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF), or an elevated number of PQP. Below are normal Premier requirements (for 2021, it is only half of these due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic):
|STATUS||PQF + PQP||PQP ONLY|
|Premier Silver||12 PQF + 4,000 PQP||5,000 PQP|
|Premier Gold||24 PQF + 8,000 PQP||10,000 PQP|
|Premier Platinum||36 PQF + 12,000 PQP||15,000 PQP|
|Premier 1K||54 PQF + 18,000 PQP||24,000 PQP|
If you hold the right United MileagePlus card, you can earn PQP when you hit the annual spending requirement.
As you can see, cobranded airline cards can be quite useful if you can’t reach elite status by flying or spending with the airline directly. That said, you’ll want to consider whether spending towards elite status is the right move for you. By putting purchases on an airline card, you’ll be passing up the opportunity to earn potentially more valuable points on other credit cards.