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Do you love flying but don’t have the time or money to fly as much as you’d like? Or maybe you’re just starting out in your travel journey and want to get those coveted airline elite status levels without having to take (as many) flights. Regardless of your situation, there are ways to earn status with airlines without having to fly all the time to level-up.

Take part in a status match or status challenge program

One way to get airline elite status without flying is to take part in a status match or status challenge program. Many airlines offer these programs as a way to entice customers from other airlines to switch over 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 provide proof of your current elite status with another airline and you’ll be matched to an equivalent level of status with the new program. Sometimes you’ll need to complete a certain amount of flying within a specified time period to keep your status, while other times you’ll be granted status for the remainder of the year and will just need to requalify organically.

Occasionally, you won’t even need to have status with an airline to take part in a status challenge.

Take advantage of credit card benefits

Another way to earn airline elite status without flying is to utilize the benefits that come with certain credit cards. Some credit cards offer the ability to earn elite qualifying miles with the co-branded airline. Unfortunately, you typically will need to be a pretty big spender 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 the ability to earn one Loyalty Point per dollar spent on any of its credit cards. You’ll need to earn 30,000 Loyalty Points to qualify for American AAdvantage Gold status, American Airlines’ lowest status tier.

Delta Air Lines

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

  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum cardholders earn 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year, plus another 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year with the Delta Platinum card.
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardholders earn 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 on their card, up to four times each calendar year. In total, Delta Reserve cardholders can earn up to 60,000 MQMs 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 the United Business Card offer the ability to earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in card spending, up to 1,000 PQPs in a calendar year.
  • The United Quest Card offers 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in card spending, up to 3,000 PQPs in a calendar year.
  • The United Club Infinite Card earns 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in card spending, up to 4,000 PQPs in a calendar year.

Southwest Airlines

To earn status with Southwest, you’ll need to earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs), which you can do through a few 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 to how many TQPs you can earn.

All spending on the Southwest cards count toward the 125,000 Rapid Rewards points (not TQPs) that need to be earned to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue offers the ability to flat-out spend your way to status through its credit cards. Spend $50,000 on your JetBue Plus Card in a year and you’ll earn JetBlue Mosaic status.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier credit cardholders can earn one qualifying mile for every dollar spent on the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard.

Spirit Airlines

Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard cardholders can earn one status-qualifying point (SQP) for every $10 spent on the card.

Speaking of American Airlines…

American Airlines is currently one of the easiest U.S. airlines to earn status with. Not only does credit card spending count toward the loyalty point requirement for status, but a ton of other activity does, as well. You’ll earn loyalty points when you

  • Fly on American, its Oneworld partners and JetBlue
  • Use an AAdvantage credit card
  • Dine out through AAdvantage Dining
  • Shop online through the eShopping portal
  • Participate with other eligible partners, such as SimplyMiles

Whether or not elite airline status is worth going after will depend on your personal situation, but not having to only fly to qualify may make a difference. Many airlines offer some other way to help earn status besides just flying, and with some, you may even be able to earn status without flying at all—though whether or not that would be worth it is up to you.



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