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Award travel is pretty amazing. Whether you fly economy class or splurge for premium cabin awards, the fact that you don't have to pay (or pay very little) sometimes feels too good to be true. However, when you have elite status with an airline, that's where the real magic happens.
For example, elite status can score you better seats, free bags, and even complimentary lounge access. Surprisingly, accessing elite status and all the perks that come with it can be easier than you may think. The fact is, you don't have to spend half your life up in the air to qualify for elite status. Each of the airline programs listed below has a shortcut for scoring elite status.
Perhaps you want to explore switching your airline loyalty to a different alliance. Or maybe you just want to hold elite status in as many programs as possible, so you always have benefits no matter which airline you travel with. Either way, here are your options to status match or fast-track to elite status with another airline.
- Overview of the Shortcuts to Gain Elite Status
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Bottom Line
Overview of the Shortcuts to Gain Elite Status
When it comes to quickly earning status with airlines, there are a few options you should know about. The first is a status match. This is when you have elite status with one airline and — in an effort to win over your business (and hopefully your loyalty) — a competing airline will offer to match that status.
Option two is known as a fast track or challenge. These opportunities require you to complete specific activities like flying, shopping, etc. These are generally the same sorts of activities you always need to complete to earn status — but at a reduced rate and typically in a shorter time period.
Some airlines allow you to earn elite status — or at least reduce the requirements to earn that status — when you open and spend a certain amount of money on that airline's co-branded credit card(s).
An important note is that all of these shortcuts to elite status change frequently. Airlines will roll out new programs and close others, sometimes within a few months. Here are the airlines offering shortcuts to elite status via status match, fast track, credit cards, or other paths right now.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Status match and fast track
Air Canada — Canada's flag carrier — is a member of Star Alliance. Its Aeroplan loyalty program is one of the most generous when it comes to booking award flights with partners. Sadly, the program isn't currently offering any status match or fast-track opportunities.
However, you can register to be alerted to future opportunities. Simply visit the status match webpage and keep an eye out for future announcements.
While status matches and fast-track opportunities are on hold, all hope is not lost! New Aeroplan® Credit Card cardmembers will receive complimentary Aeroplan 25K Status (Star Alliance Silver status) for the remainder of the calendar year plus the following calendar year when opening the card.
Keep your Aeroplan 25K Status with $15,000 in account spending during a calendar year. As the primary cardmember, you have the ability to earn Aeroplan 35K Status or an Elite Status “Level Up” of one tier with $50,000 in account spending during a calendar year.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Don't let the name of this airline fool you. Despite being named after one of the least-populated states in the U.S., Alaska Airlines is currently based out of Seattle, Washington and has an extensive network of routes. Where Alaska Airlines can't take you, its Oneworld and non-alliance partners can.
Alaska Mileage Plan members can try out Alaska's elite status for 90 days after matching from an eligible airline. To request a status match, head over to the Alaska Airlines website and fill out the form. You can access that here.
Make sure to have your Mileage Plan number, current airline membership number, and a screenshot of the airline account you are matching. Here is a look at what your existing status could earn you.
After you register for an Alaska Airlines status match, you'll have 90 days to meet the criteria required to keep your status. You must take several trips on Alaska-operated flights.
- MVP status: Fly 5,000 miles on Alaska Airlines.
- MVP Gold members: Fly 10,000 miles on Alaska Airlines.
- MVP Gold 75K members: Fly 20,000 miles on Alaska Airlines.
If you meet these requirements, you'll earn elite status through at least the end of that calendar year. Even better, if you start your status match in July-December, you'll keep that elite status through the end of the following calendar year. That means applying in July will give you a shot at keeping Alaska elite status for the longest.
Just note that Alaska Airlines only allows one status match for the lifetime of your account.
Occasionally, there are special or targeted offers for Mileage Plan members to fast-track status requirements. For example, earlier this year, California residents could receive MVP status with two qualifying round-trip flights and MVP Gold with four qualifying round-trip flights. However, that promotion ended on March 31, 2023, and there are no current fast-track status offers.
Although the listed benefits on co-branded Alaska Airlines credit cards don't help you on your journey to elite status, these cards are useful thanks to a solid welcome offer and the ability to earn an annual “Famous Companion Fare”:
- Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
- Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
However, there is currently an ongoing promotion to earn unlimited elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) with credit card spending, though registration has closed as of July 15, 2023. Those who signed up can continue to participate.
If you signed up for this promotion, you can earn 2,000 EQMs for every $10,000 you spend on your Alaska Airlines credit card through November 30, 2023.
American Airlines AAdvantage
In 2022, American Airlines revamped its elite status program to replace the traditional qualifications with the all-new Loyalty Points program. Now you can reach elite status not just from flying but also by spending on an eligible AAdvantage credit card and by using SimplyMiles, the AAdvantage eShopping portal, and AAdvantage Dining Program. Here are the status match and fast-track opportunities currently offered.
There are no current status match opportunities available.
American Airlines offers an Instant Status Pass, which allows targeted members to get AAdvantage elite status for a provisional four-month period. You can extend that status by meeting set Loyalty Point earning thresholds. There may be a cost to participate, though amounts vary by person.
Check the Promotions tab of your AAdvantage online account to see if you're targeted. Alternatively, you can call AAdvantage customer service (888-697-5636 or 800-882-8880) to see if you're eligible for an Instant Status Pass.
Base miles earned from spending on an American Airlines credit card (not including things like a sign-up bonus or bonus miles from certain categories) will earn Loyalty Points. That opens another route to earning American Airlines elite status.
Here are the co-branded cards that can help you earn Loyalty Points and achieve status with American Airlines:
- American Airlines AAdvantage® MileUp®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Gold World Elite™ MasterCard®
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Blue Mastercard®
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®
- AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®
It's also possible to earn Loyalty Points with American Airlines' credit cards in other countries.
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
Delta Air Lines has pulled its offer. There is no match currently available.
Previously, the airline offered a SkyMiles Medallion Status Match Challenge. It required filling out a form online and showing proof of your current elite status with a qualifying airline. Following the approval of your request, you'd receive three months of complimentary Silver, Gold, or Platinum Medallion status on Delta. You could keep your status if you can successfully complete a challenge.
Delta has offered fast-track options in the past, but nothing right now. Keep an eye out for new opportunities that could roll out this year.
American Express offers various Delta credit cards that can help you reach elite status. Welcome offers on these credit cards sometimes include bonus MQMs to help you earn status, while these cards offer the ability to earn a status boost through spending:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Earn 10,000 bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $25,000 on your card. Earn an additional 10,000 MQMs after spending another $25,000, with an annual maximum of 20,000 bonus MQMs.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Earn 15,000 bonus MQMs after spending $30,000 on purchases in a calendar year. Available up to four times per year for a maximum of 60,000 bonus MQMs.
These four cards also offer a Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQD) waiver after spending $25,000 or more on purchases within a calendar year. The waiver for Diamond status requires $250,000 of credit card spending, however.
(Effective 1/1/24, the Status Boost benefit and MQD benefit will no longer be available, and there will be a new way to earn toward Medallion Status with the Delta cards – Learn more.)
Related: 7 Best Ways to Use Delta SkyMiles
Frontier is not currently offering a status match with its airline loyalty program, Frontier Miles. If you want a heads-up the next time one is launched, you can sign up here.
If you really want to be proactive, you also can do a quick read on the requirements for previous status matches. These requirements generally stay the same with each match or challenge, so you'll be ready to go next time an offer comes around.
There are several opportunities to fast-track to elite status with Frontier involving credit cards. For more on that, look below.
One offer currently grants Elite 20K Frontier status through Dec. 31, 2024 for $599, and another offer grants Elite 20K status through Dec. 31, 2023 for $199. Under the $199 offer, you can extend status through Dec. 31, 2024 by earning 10,000 elite qualifying miles.
If you have the FRONTIER Airlines World Mastercard®, you will earn 1 Qualifying Mile for every dollar spent. Using the Frontier co-branded credit card is not the quickest shortcut around, but is one way to reach those Qualifying Mile thresholds faster.
Hawaiian Airlines does not publicize a status match program, but you can request one. If you request and successfully receive the match, you'll enjoy status for up to 12 months. To request a match, head over to the Hawaiian Airlines website and submit a request form, along with a screenshot of the airline status you want to match. If you want to increase the odds that your status match is granted, include any info you may have about upcoming Hawaiian Airlines travel.
No fast-track options are currently available with Hawaiian Airlines.
The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard® and Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Business Mastercard® issued by Barclays do not offer a way to earn elite status, but these cards do come with some other perks that are worth exploring. One highlight is that both cards offer a one-time 50% off companion discount for round-trip economy travel between Hawaii and North America on Hawaiian Airlines.
JetBlue doesn't offer a status match program at this time. Previously, under the Northeast Alliance between JetBlue and American Airlines, flyers were able to enjoy reciprocal elite benefits as a TrueBlue member on JetBlue flights if they had elite status with American Airlines. However, this alliance recently ended. If you booked any flights before July 20, 2023, your reciprocal benefits will still apply.
JetBlue is not offering any fast-track options for status at present.
Cardholders of all three of Barclays‘ JetBlue co-branded credit cards can spend their way to Mosaic status. There are currently four levels of Mosaic status, and each level is reached by earning another 50 tiles. You earn one tile for every $1,000 spent on a JetBlue credit card, so you will need to spend $50,000 annually to earn Mosaic 1 status.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards will match your status from pretty much any U.S. airline to its A-List membership. To apply for a match, head over to Southwest's website and review the online requirements. You'll be instructed to email your first and last name, Rapid Rewards number, and a screenshot of your current elite status with a U.S.-based carrier, other than Southwest Airlines, to email@example.com.
Once your match has been approved, you'll have 90 days to meet the requirements to retain your newly acquired status for an additional 12 months. You'll need to meet these requirements within 90 days of your status match start date:
- Fly three round-trip qualifying flights, or
- Six one-way qualifying flights
Note that the flights must be booked after your airline status match is approved, and you must complete travel within 90 days from enrollment. Existing bookings do not count. The status match promotion is only available to members who have not received A-List status in any other promotion in the last 12 months and is available through December 31, 2023.
There are no offers available to fast-track your way to A-List status.
While you can't fast-track your way to A-List status, you can spend your way there. You'll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend on the following cards (available an unlimited number of times annually):
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest's co-branded credit cards will also help you quickly work toward the Southwest Companion Pass, which requires you to earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards points each year. Here are the current sign-up bonuses for each of the Southwest credit cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Spirit Airlines offers its own version of elite status with its Free Spirit program. The low-cost carrier has some great money-saving perks for its elite members, including free checked bags, free seat selection, no fees for cancellations, etc.
Spirit Airlines' most recent status match offer ended on April 23, 2023, but you can register for the waitlist to be notified of future status match opportunities.
Spirit does not offer any other ways to fast-track to its elite status.
Spirit Airlines has two co-branded cards that allow you to earn points and receive benefits:
- Free Spirit® Travel Mastercard®
- Free Spirit® Travel More MasterCard®
Only the Free Spirit® Travel More MasterCard® allows you to earn Status Qualifying Points (SQPs) toward Free Spirit status. You can earn 1 SQP for every $10 spent on the card in a calendar year.
United Airlines MileagePlus
With this challenge, you can get upgraded to Premier Silver, Premier Gold, or Premier Platinum status, depending on your existing status with a competitor's airline. You'll enjoy that status for 120 days.
During that time, you'll need to complete the following criteria. Additionally, qualifying trips must be on flights operated by United or United Express:
- Premier Silver: Fly four Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) and earn 1,300 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)
- Premier Gold: Fly eight PQF and earn 2,600 PQP
- Premier Platinum: Fly 12 PQF and earn 4,000 PQP
To kick off a status challenge with United, make sure you are a MileagePlus member and visit United's website to fill out the request form. You can request a status match challenge from United once every five years.
United does not offer a fast-track option beyond the airline status match challenge mentioned above.
Several United credit cards offer spending boosts toward elite status:
- Up to 1,000 PQPs
- Up to 3,000 PQPs
- United MileagePlus® Select Card (not available to new applicants)
- Up to 6,000 PQPs
- Up to 8,000 PQPs
PQPs are earned as follows: 500 PQPs per $12,000 spent on your card each year.
Plain and simple, airlines want to win your loyalty. They'll throw out some pretty enticing offers to do so, hence the reason they will match your status from another airline to draw you in.
While not every status promotion is a good deal for everyone, these can be a great way to improve your travel experience. Always know your travel goals and do your research beforehand to ensure you can make the most of all your travels!
Have you ever participated in an airline status match? Did you think it was worth it?
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