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For the longest time, earning elite status was only possible for the most frequent fliers. You could spend heavily on an airline credit card that offers you plenty of miles, but you’d still fail to earn status, and you’d still be a “general member” of the frequent flier program.

But times have changed, and now several airlines offer you a path to elite status when you use their co-branded credit cards. The question now becomes, is it worth it to earn elite status through credit card spending?

To answer that question, you have to look at both the amount of spending required and the benefits offered by the elite status programs of each airline. 

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines

Frontier

This Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier was a pioneer in offering elite status to its credit card users. 

How To Earn Elite Status Through Frontier Credit Cards

The Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®, which is issued by Barclays, offers you one elite status Qualifying Mile for every dollar spent on purchases, in addition to earning one Qualifying Mile for every dollar spent on flying Frontier. For 2024, you can receive their Elite Silver status by earning 10,000 miles, their Elite Gold with 20,000 miles and Elite Platinum with 50,000 miles. Even their top-tier Elite Diamond status is available to those who earn 100,000 Qualifying Miles

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How Valuable Is Frontier Elite Status?

Frontier’s business model is to offer fliers extremely low-priced tickets, but to charge additional fees for seat assignments, carry-on bags and other options. Having elite status can allow you to avoid all of those charges. Since Frontier doesn’t offer overseas flights or first class seats, there’s a limit to what their elite status can offer compared to legacy airlines.

Elite Silver offers you standard seats at booking, priority customer care and priority boarding, while Elite Gold adds a free carry-on bag and a premium seat at check-in. Elite Platinum features a free checked bag, a premium seat at booking, an in-cabin pet fee waiver and even the ability to gift Silver status to someone. Top-tier Diamond status adds refundability to tickets, as well as a second checked bag.

Delta Airlines

Delta plane at sunset

Unsplash

Delta was roundly criticized this fall when it made it much harder for travelers to earn elite status. However, it made it easier to do so just by using its credit cards. And although it rolled back some of those changes, it’s still a greater challenge to reach Medallion status in its SkyMiles® program. 

How To Earn Elite Status Through Delta Credit Cards

Delta now offers you one Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) for each $20 spent on a Delta SkyMiles® Platinum or Platinum Business Card® from American Express®. But you can earn an MQD for each $10 spent on their pricey Delta SkyMiles Reserve or Reserve Business cards. Other ways to earn MQDs include booking hotels and rental cars through Delta, as well as from flying on Delta and its partners. 

Silver status starts at 5,000 MQDs, Gold at $10,000 MQDs, Platinum at $15,000 MQDs and Diamond at $28,000 MQDs. This means that you’d have to spend $50,000 on one of their top-tier SkyMiles Reserve cards to earn their basic Silver Medallion status, and a whopping $100,000 on one of their SkyMiles Platinum cards. 

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How Valuable Is Delta Elite Status?

Each level of status gives you more fee waivers and an increased ability to book Comfort+ seats with a little extra legroom. You also receive an increased likelihood of being upgraded to first class, but you need to manage expectations as those upgrades have become increasingly rare. 

United Airlines

United plane in the sky

United

How To Earn Elite Status Through United Credit Cards

Unlike Delta, United decided not to increase the requirements for its MileagePlus® Premier® elite status program in 2024. You earn 25 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) for each $500 spent on their credit cards (up to 6,000 per calendar year), or 1 PQP/$20, which is better than what was previously offered.

  • Premier Silver status: 12 Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP
  • Premier Gold: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum; 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP

Compare United Consumer Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro Bonus Annual Fee Perks Learn More

United Gateway℠ Card

30,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Limited-time offer: Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Dollar Equivalent: $420 (30,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$0
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

United℠ Explorer Card

60,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Limited-time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $840 (60,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$95 More info

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

  • 2 United Club 1-time passes annually
  • Free 1st checked bag for you & a companion
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

United Quest℠ Card

70,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Limited-time offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $980 (70,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$250
  • Up to a $125 United® purchase credit and up to 10,000 miles in award flight credits each year (terms apply)
  • Free 1st & 2nd checked bags
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

United Club℠ Infinite Card

90,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Limited-time offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,260 (90,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$525
  • United Club membership
  • Premier Access travel services
  • Free 1st & 2nd checked bags
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS credit

How Valuable Is United Elite Status?

As with Delta, there’s a complicated table that explains which benefits you receive for each level of status. Likewise, each level of status gives you more fee waivers and an increased ability to book Economy Plus seats with a little extra legroom, and an increased likelihood of being upgraded to first class.

American Airlines

American Airlines plane

American Airlines

How To Earn Elite Status Through Credit Cards

American Airlines now offers one Loyalty Point per dollar spent on its numerous credit cards offered by both Barclays and Citi®. To receive elite status in its AAdvantage® program, you need to earn the following:

  • Gold: 40,000 points
  • Platinum: 75,000 points
  • Platinum Pro: 125,000 points
  • Executive Platinum: 200,000 points

How Valuable Is Elite Status?

Just as with Delta and United, the American Airlines AAdvantage program primarily offers those with higher levels of status more fee waivers and an increased ability to book seats with a little extra legroom. There's also an increased likelihood of being upgraded to first class.

JetBlue

JetBlue plane taking off

JetBlue

How To Earn Jetblue Mosaic Elite Status Through Credit Cards

JetBlue has a unique “tile” system for earning status: 

  • 50 tiles = Mosaic 1
  • 100 tiles = Mosaic 2 
  • 150 tiles = Mosaic 3 
  • 250 tiles = Mosaic 4 

You earn one tile for every $100 spent on JetBlue purchases, including vacation packages, and one tile for every $1,000 spent on one of the JetBlue credit cards, which are issued by Barclays. That makes entry-level Mosaic 1 status available when you spend any combination of $5,000 on JetBlue or $50,000 on their credit cards. 

How Valuable Is Jetblue Mosaic Elite Status?

This status will offer you perks like early boarding, free checked bags and upgrades to their Even More Space seats with extra legroom. With higher status levels, you can even earn certificates for upgrades to their premium Mint class, and even BLADE helicopter transfers from Manhattan to JFK or Newark airports

Bottom Line

Several airlines now offer elite status, in whole or in part, through credit card spend. By understanding how much you need to spend on their credit cards, and how much the status earned is worth, you can decide if this strategy is right for you. 

JS

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel and other areas of personal finance. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the credit card industry, Jason’s work has been featured at mainstream outlets such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money and Business Insider.