How to Earn Elite Status with Credit Cards | Real World Machine

How to Earn Elite Status with Credit Cards

Many co-branded credit cards offer elite status in various frequent flyer and rewards programs for airline, hotel, rail, and rental car travel providers. Sometimes, card holders receive elite status simply for being a card member…this is especially true for co-branded hotel credit cards. In other instances, spending on the co-branded credit card get you elite credit/nights/miles in a given program at specified thresholds or ratios.

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For travelers who want to experience the benefits that elite status has to offer, but who do not travel enough, or split up their travel too much, to earn elite status “the hard way,” co-branded credit credit cards can be a cost-effective way of obtaining elite status without having to put in the miles or nights.

Check out the table below for a comprehensive overview of which credit cards provide elite status and annual spending requirements.

Credit Cards with Automatic or Spending-Based Elite Status

The cards referenced in the table below refer to the personal versions and not the business versions of the card (if applicable). Nevertheless, the business versions of the card generally carry the same benefits with regards to earning elite status.

Related: Calculator: How much are my points or miles worth?

Co-branded cards that do not offer any elite status qualification benefits are not included in the table below, unless they are the only card for a given rewards program.

A few high-end cards, like the Platinum Card from American Express, are not co-branded but do come with automatic elite status…the Platinum Card gives automatic Gold with both Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest.

If you are unsure what a particular column in the table below represents, click on the column’s header for the definition.

If the name of the travel provider is hyperlinked, the link will take you to a benefits overview and valuation of the elite status levels for the provider’s rewards program.



Rewards Program Type Credit Card Annual Fee Automatic Elite Status with Card Highest Automatic Elite Status with Spend Requirement Highest Automatic Elite Status Annual Spend Requirement Elite Crediting Rate Elite Crediting Annual Maximum Comments
Alaska Mileage Plan Airline Alaska Airlines Visa Signature $75       n/a   No elite credit for card spend
American AAdvantage Airline Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver MasterCard $195       $20,000 = 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles $40,000 = 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles $25,000 = 3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars; maximum of 6,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars annually
American AAdvantage Airline Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard $450       $40,000 = 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles $40,000 = 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles  
Delta SkyMiles Airline Delta Reserve from American Express $450   Silver $60,000 $30,000 = 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles $60,000 = 30,000 Medallion Qualification Miles Medallion Qualification Dollars requirement waived with $25,000+ annual spend
Delta SkyMiles Airline Platinum Delta SkyMiles from American Express $195       $25,000 = 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles $50,000 = 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles Medallion Qualification Dollars requirement waived with $25,000+ annual spend
Delta SkyMiles Airline American Express Centurion Card $2,500 Platinum (limited)     n/a   Some, but not all, Platinum benefits; this “Black Card” is invitation-only
JetBlue TrueBlue Airline JetBlue Plus $99   Mosaic $50,000 n/a    
Southwest Rapid Rewards Airline Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa $99       $10,000 = 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points $100,000 = 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points  
United MileagePlus Airline United MileagePlus Presidential Plus $450       $5,000 = 1,000 Premier Qualifying Miles $375,000 = 75,000 Premier Qualifying Miles No longer accepting new applications; Premier Qualifying Dollars requirement waived with $25,000+ annual spend
Virgin America Elevate Airline Virgin America Premium Visa Signature $149       $10,000 = 5,000 Status Points $30,000 = 15,000 Status Points  
Avis Preferred Car Rental World Elite MasterCard (any) Varies Avis Preferred Plus     n/a   Includes: Citi Prestige / AAdvantage Executive / ThankYou Premier, Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Enterprise Plus Car Rental NO CREDIT CARD              
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Car Rental United MileagePlus Club $450 President’s Circle     n/a   United Platinum matches to President’s Circle; United Silver or Gold matches to Five Star
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Car Rental American Express Centurion Card $2,500 President’s Circle     n/a   This “Black Card” is invitation-only
National Car Rental Emerald Club Car Rental Platinum Card from American Express $450 Executive     n/a    
National Car Rental Emerald Club Car Rental Chase Sapphire Reserve $450 Executive     n/ a    
National Car Rental Emerald Club Car Rental World Elite MasterCard (any) Varies Executive     n/a   Includes: Citi Prestige / AAdvantage Executive / ThankYou Premier, Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Accor Le Club Hotel NO CREDIT CARD              
Best Western Rewards Hotel Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard $59 Platinum     n/a    
Best Western Rewards Hotel Best Western Rewards MasterCard $- Gold     n/a    
Choice Privileges Hotel Choice Privileges Visa Signature $- Gold     n/a    
Club Carlson Hotel Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature $75 Gold     n/a   15 nights credit annually if you already have Gold or higher status
Club Carlson Hotel Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature $50 Silver     n/a   10 nights credit annually if you already have Silver or higher status
Hilton Honors Hotel Honors Surpass from American Express $75 Gold Diamond $40,000 n/a    
Hilton Honors Hotel Honors from American Express $- Silver Gold $20,000 n/a    
Hilton Honors Hotel Citi Honors Reserve $95 Gold Diamond $40,000 n/a    
Hilton Honors Hotel Citi Honors Visa Signature $- Silver Gold $20,000 n/a    
Hilton Honors Hotel Platinum Card from American Express $450 Gold     n/a    
Hilton Honors Hotel American Express Centurion Card $2,500 Gold     n/a   Upgrade to Diamond with 4 nights or 2 stays annually; this “Black Card” is invitation-only
Hyatt, World of Hotel Hyatt Credit Card $75 Discoverist Explorist $50,000 n/a    
Hyatt, World of Hotel United MileagePlus Club $450 Discoverist     n/a   Presumed; may change on/after March 1, 2017
IHG Rewards Club Hotel IHG Rewards Club Select $49 Platinum     n/a    
IHG Rewards Club Hotel American Express Centurion Card $2,500 Platinum     n/a   This “Black Card” is invitation-only
Marriott Rewards Hotel Marriott Rewards Premier $85 Silver Platinum $180,000 $3,000 = 1 night No Maximum Automatic 15 nights credit annually; can match to SPG; Platinum matches to United Silver
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Hotel Ritz-Carlton Rewards $450   Platinum $75,000 n/a   Can match to SPG; Gold with $10,000 annual spend; Platinum matches to United Silver
Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express $95       n/a   Automatic 5 nights + 2 stays credit annually; can match to Marriott and Ritz-Carlton
Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Platinum Card from American Express $450 Gold     n/a    
Wyndham Rewards Hotel Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature (fee) $75 Platinum     n/a    
Wyndham Rewards Hotel Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature (no-fee) $- Gold     n/a    
Amtrak Guest Rewards Rail Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard $79       $5,000 = 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points $20,000 = 4,000 Tier Qualifying Points





Definitions


Rewards Program
This is the name of the provider’s rewards or frequent flyer program.

Type
This is the type of travel service that the rewards program’s travel providers offers.

Credit Card
This is the name of the credit card associated with the rewards program.

Annual Fee
This is the annual fee for the credit card associated with the rewards program.

Automatic Elite Status with Credit Card
This is the elite status level you receive simply for being a cardholder of the credit card. Not all rewards programs or credit cards offer automatic elite status.

Highest Automatic Elite Status with Spend Requirement
This is the highest possible elite status level you can achieve by meeting a spending requirement on the credit card. The spending requirement may be an annual threshold, annual thresholds with multiple tiers, or a ratio.

Highest Automatic Elite Status Annual Spend Requirement
This is the amount you will have to spend on the credit card to obtain the highest possible elite status level you can achieve with the credit card.

Elite Crediting Rate
The rate (ratio) at which you accrue elite miles/nights/credits based on your spending on the credit card. Not all credit cards have an elite crediting rate; some have a single annual spending requirement threshold or simply come with automatic elite status (no spending requirement).

Elite Crediting Annual Maximum
The maximum number of elite miles/nights/credits you can achieve annually based on your spending on the credit card.

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Summary
How to Earn Elite Status with Credit Cards
Article
How to Earn Elite Status with Credit Cards
Description
Find out how to obtain elite status automatically in airline, hotel, and rail rewards programs through holding credit cards and spending on co-branded credit cards.
Author
Publisher
Real World Machine LLC
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