Get & Use Airline Status Part 2: Reach Status Fast
OK, so you're ready to commit to your airline and earn Status fast? Here's how you do it. Part of it is straight forward and part of it is taking advantage of special overlaps to beat the system. And don't forget to see below for the business travelers section for some extra tips!
Step 1: Get the Best Airline Specific Credit Card
Perhaps the single most important step is to get yourself the airline's premier credit card, because spending money will help you earn status. To be clear, you must ensure that the card earns you Status Qualifying Miles, not just regular frequent flyer miles you can use for booking trips. This means you'll need to opt for the $250-$550 Platinum or better versions which will usually pay a signup bonus of qualifying miles, and then reward you with additional Status bonus Miles at different spend thresholds.
Don't be deterred by the annual fee of the card, it's well worth it in immediate benefits. Besides miles bonuses you can also get access to the clubs with the highest tier card - usually $25-$50 per visit otherwise. You also may get the $200 Global Entry credit, Uber dollars, free meals on flights etc.
Below: NxTSTOP travel kits
Step 2: Choose Your Focus (Miles, Segments, Dollars)
Nowadays, purely earning miles flown is just one way to get Status. Almost all airlines have now moved to a system that rewards Dollars, Segments, or Miles as a way to achieve Status threshold. The airlines set milestones for the number of individual segments flown, or the number of miles flown in a year, and/or total dollars you must spend with the airline. Be warned: spending enough money is usually a requirement alongside the Miles or Segments. So even if you fly enough miles to qualify you may need to spend more money to trigger the Status.
Why is this important? Depending on your situation, you may actually be better served by focusing your efforts on something other than miles alone. It's not just about how many long trips you can do in a year. For example, if you're a regional salesperson flying multiple short trips every week, Segments may be the best bet. Or, if you're a business owner who can expense lots of things (including trips), Dollars may be your go-to. For example, most years I now simply qualify for Delta Diamond Medallion via spend through the credit card, NOT by flying 125,000 miles!
Step 3: Check If Status Challenge Is Possible
Some airlines, like American, allow you to pay to undertake a Status challenge - e.g., you achieve a certain number of miles in 90 days. Usually these challenges must be specially requested via customer service. If it is available, then this is a good way to help you quickly jump into enjoying benefits. You may also need to pay a fee to enter the challenge.
Special Option: don't forget to ask your close friends or relatives who have Status with your airline if they'd be willing to give you a special assist by awarding you Status. At the higher tiers some airlines allow Status members to bestow Status on someone of their choosing as a benefit! So if your management consulting buddy has extra
Step 4: Fly As Much As You Can In The Required Timeframe
As obvious as it seems, you need to be flying to get Status. But remember that all airlines measure their time of qualification as a 12 month period. Usually it is based on a calendar year but not always. Check the airline's loyalty program information to confirm. Make sure you squeeze in all those trips during the correct period. Don't forget as well that the faster you attain Status the faster you get to start using your benefits!
Step 5: Spend As Much As You Can On the Credit Card
Link that credit card in your frequent flyer profile and use it always. You'll immediately get mileage multipliers on your trip bookings. Besides trips use the credit card for any expenses you can, as well as for buying friends/family gift certificates or flights with your airline. This will help you achieve the thresholds required for Status, as well as push you towards earning the bonus miles towards your Status.
Business Traveler: Points Growth Perks
If you work for a company that allows you to reimburse travel and expenses, and it's key you also use your credit card for the flight purchases (if allowed). By linking your credit card for expense reimbursement you dramatically increase your point earning capability. For my first two years working at Accenture we were allowed to use our own credit cards to book flights in the online booking system, so I was earning tens of thousands of points per year. Next, some cards also allow you to link to other travel partners (e.g., Uber, Lyft) and multiply your points. So you should try to connect all of these together to boost your earning potential.
In conclusion, once you're on your way, try to double and triple your effective flight activity through the points you can earn through spending activity.