Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
We’ve seen a lot of airlines and hotel chains adjust their loyalty programs in the last year and a half. Nearly every major program announced elite status extensions in 2020. However, some are taking things a step further by also reducing the qualification requirements for 2021 — and even extending into 2022 and 2023.
Keeping track of the myriad of changes can be a challenge to keep up with, but TPG is here to help. Here’s a complete list of all of the elite qualification changes you need to know about for this year. We’ll continue to regularly update this guide as more airlines and hotels announce changes.
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In This Post
Aeroplan members who qualify for any elite status tier in 2021 (through flight activity) will have their Status Qualifying Miles (SQM), Status Qualifying Segments (SQS) and Status Qualifying Dollars (SQD) rolled over to 2022. This will apply to any member who earns qualifies for Aeroplan 25K status or higher this year, requiring a minimum of 25,000 SQM or 25 SQS and $3,000 SQD ($1,500 for non-Canadian residents).
For example, an Aeroplan Super Elite member who earns 28,000 SQM, 13 SQS and $5,000 SQD will start 2022 with Super Elite status and the same number of SQM, SQS and SQD in their account. This will make it far easier for Aeroplan elites to earn or upgrade status in 2022 (for the 2023 status year) without worrying about losing their current status tier.
Related: You can earn Air Canada elite status from your couch — here’s how
Alaska normally offers two ways to reach MVP elite status: Flying Alaska-operated flights exclusively (with lower qualification thresholds) or taking a combination of Alaska- and partner-operated flights (with higher thresholds).
However, for 2021, Alaska has lowered qualification thresholds for all members.
- MVP: 20,000 elite-qualifying miles or 30 segments
- MVP Gold: 40,000 elite-qualifying miles or 60 segments
- MVP Gold 75K: 75,000 elite-qualifying miles or 90 segments
Although it no longer matters how you earn your miles, you must fly a minimum number of Alaska Airlines segments to earn or retain status: two for MVP, four for MVP Gold and six for MVP Gold 75K. Alaska is offering a Fast Track to Status promotion that awards 50% bonus elite qualifying miles on all Alaska-operated flights through Dec. 31, 2021. No registration is required for the promo, but it does not apply to partner flights, even if they’re booked on an Alaska ticket.
The airline has also said that it will extend elite status for those who don’t requalify in 2021. Details are still outstanding on exactly how this will work, but 2020 status will be extended through April 30, 2022, with an opportunity to requalify by flying a minimum number of miles from Jan. 2022 – April 2022.
Finally, Alaska is allowing those with its Alaska Airlines Visa card to earn up to 20,000 elite-qualifying miles with 2,500 elite qualifying miles awarded for every $2,500 you spend on purchases with your credit card, up to 20,000 EQMs. This promo runs for purchases from Sept.16 – Nov. 15, 2021.
Related: Alaska frequent flyers have a lot to look forward to in 2021
American was the first U.S. airline to announce elite status updates for 2021. This year, AAdvantage elite status qualification thresholds have been reduced across the board. Any status earned in 2021 will be valid through Jan. 31, 2023.
The airline is reducing elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) required by 20%. Elite-qualifying segments (EQSs) and elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) are lowered by 20% to 33%. Here’s how the new requirements break down:
- Gold: 20,000 EQMs or 20 EQSs plus $2,000 EQDs
- Platinum: 40,000 EQMs or 45 EQSs, plus $4,500 EQDs
- Platinum Pro: 60,000 EQMs or 70 EQSs, plus $7,000 EQDs
- Executive Platinum: 80,000 EQMs or 95 EQSs, plus $12,000 EQDs
There’s also a new way to get around the EQD requirements. Specifically, you can waive the EQD requirement up to Platinum Pro status by spending $30,000 on any cobranded AAdvantage credit card during the calendar year. Furthermore, American is offering limited-time opportunities to earn bonus EQMs, EQDs and potentially even purchase some EQMs.
- Every AAdvantage member will receive bonus EQMs on the first ten segments flown between June 3 and Aug. 31.
- All current elites received a one-time EQD deposit varying based on elite status, ranging from 500 bonus EQDs for Gold members to 3,000 EQDs for Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members.
- Current elites can purchase a package of EQMs for $495, which will earn you 495 EQDs, as well as the following number of EQMs:
- Gold members receive 2,500 EQMs
- Platinum members receive 5,000 EQMs
- Platinum Pro members receive 7,500 EQMs
- Executive Platinum and invite-only Concierge Key members receive 10,000 EQMs
Related: Why this is the year of easy elite status
But that’s not all. If you already hold elite status, you have two additional paths to requalifying. These fast-track opportunities are specifically for those who held status on Jan. 1, 2021 and excludes those currently enrolled on limited-time status challenges.
- Spend $15,000 on an AAdvantage credit card
- If you spend $15,000 or more on eligible purchases on an AAdvantage co-branded credit card between July 15 and Nov. 15, you’ll retain the elite status you held at the outset of the year through Jan. 31, 2023.
- All Citi® / AAdvantage® credit cards are eligible as well as all AAdvantage® Aviator® and all AAdvantage® credit cards issued outside the U.S.
- Fly on American or a partner
- If you fly and earn 2,000 elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, you’ll retain the elite status you held at the outset of the year through Jan. 31, 2023.
In addition, American recently made major changes in earning rates for basic economy tickets. As of Jan. 1, 2021, basic economy tickets no longer earn elite-qualifying miles, segments or dollars. On the flip side, elites are now able to enjoy status perks when flying basic economy.
Related: Is it worth pursuing American Airlines elite status ‘the hard way’ anymore?
Amtrak Guest Rewards
Amtrak is extending elite status for all Select, Select Plus and Select Executive members through Feb. 28, 2022. In addition, it’s making it easier for members to qualify or requalify by doubling the amount of Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) they earn on Amtrak travel in 2021.
Effective July 7, members will earn 4 TQPs per dollar spent on Amtrak travel — double the standard TQPs. Additionally, Amtrak will retroactively award the double TQPs to include trips taken since Jan. 1, 2021.
Related: Your complete guide to Amtrak Guest Rewards
On Jan. 31, 2021, Avianca LifeMiles moved from distance-based mileage earning to revenue-based mileage earning. This change affects both how you earn redeemable miles and elite-qualifying miles. You’ll earn a flat five qualifying points per dollar you spend on a flight, meaning you’ll no longer be able to fast-track status by booking inexpensive, long-haul flights.
On the bright side, Avianca lowered elite status requirements for 2021. The temporary change offers up to a 40% reduction on elite status requirements, with more significant reductions being offered on higher status tiers.
- Red Plus: 8,250 qualifying miles (usually 11,000)
- Silver: 11,200 qualifying miles (usually 16,000)
- Gold: 18,850 qualifying miles (usually 29,000)
- Diamond: 28,800 qualifying miles (usually 48,000)
As before, you must earn 80% of your qualifying miles on Avianca-operated flights to qualify for status. You can earn the rest on any Star Alliance partner.
Related: Avianca updating how you earn miles and elite status in 2021
Choice Hotels reduced thresholds for elite status qualification in 2021. Any status you earn this year will be valid through 2022. Here’s how the requirements break down:
- Gold status: Earned after staying seven nights as opposed to 10
- Platinum status: Earned after staying 15 nights as opposed to 20
- Diamond status: Earned after staying 25 nights as opposed to 40
Delta was the first airline to extend elite status due to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 and again in 2021.
Additionally, it’s making it much easier to qualify for higher status and offering extra perks for those that qualify the “hard way.” Specifically, starting Feb. 1, 2022, travelers who earned their status in 2021 will clear for complimentary upgrades ahead of those at the same tier level whose status was extended.
While the airline hasn’t adjusted the qualifying requirements, it is offering a unique fast-track offer. From April 1 through the end of the year, SkyMiles members can earn up to 75% more elite-qualifying credit on flights marketed and operated by Delta, including award travel. Here’s the breakdown:
- 50% boost: All basic economy and Main Cabin tickets will earn 50% more Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs).
- 75% boost: Premium-cabin fares — Delta One, Delta Premium Select, domestic first class and Delta Comfort+ tickets, including those upgraded after purchase — qualify for an additional 25% bonus, bringing the total qualification boost to 75%.
Further, now through Dec. 31, 2022, travelers will earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs), Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) and Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) on award tickets. This is the first time a U.S. airline loyalty program offers elite-qualifying credit for award tickets, including Miles + Cash redemptions.
On top of that, Delta will be rolling over all Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) earned in 2021 (as well as those already rolled over from 2020) to 2022. So, if you took any Delta flights this year or last, you’ve already begun making progress toward earning status in 2022.
Related: You don’t need to spend $250,000 to fast-track Delta Diamond status
While Emirates hasn’t adjusted qualification thresholds yet, it is running a limited-time promotion to help Skywards members fast-track to higher tier status. Members will automatically earn double tier miles on all Emirates and Flydubai flights booked between April 1 to July 31, 2021, for travel between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2021. The bonus applies as per the original ticketed class. Keep in mind that award tickets don’t earn tier miles.
Hawaiian cut Pualani elite qualification for the 2022 status year in half. Plus, members who achieve Pualani Platinum status at the reduced elite qualifications will still receive their two Platinum upgrade certificates.
- Pualani Gold status: 15 segments or 10,000 miles
- Pualani Platinum status: 30 segments or 20,000 miles
However, there’s no word yet whether Hawaiian will continue to follow the reduced requirements next year.
Related: Best ways to redeem points and miles on Hawaiian Airlines
In addition to extending status for current elites, Hertz reduced qualification requirements for new elite members. In 2021, you can earn elite status by meeting the following requirements:
|Status tier||2021 requirements||Normal requirements|
|Five Star||10 rentals||12 rentals or $2,000 spent|
|President’s Circle||15 rentals||20 rentals or $4,000 spent|
Hilton has slashed 2021 qualification requirements in half, including stays, nights and base points. Here’s how you can earn status starting January 2021:
- Silver: 2 stays, 5 nights, or 12,500 base points
- Gold: 10 stays, 20 nights or 37,500 base points
- Diamond: 15 stays, 30 nights or 60,000 base points
Further, it has already announced that it will continue to offer reduced qualification requirements for members in 2022. In 2022, Hilton Honors members can earn:
- Silver status after seven nights, three stays or 17,500 base points
- Gold status after 28 nights, 14 stays or 52,500 base points
- Diamond status after 42 nights, 21 stays or 84,000 base points
Related: An inside look at how Hilton is cleaning hotel rooms between guests
In addition to reducing requirements, Hilton automatically rolled over all 2020 elite-qualifying nights to 2021, so you could get a big head start on your 2021 qualification based on stays this year. Further, all nights earned in 2021 will be automatically counted toward 2022 status qualifications.
However, keep in mind that you can also get automatic Hilton Honors elite status with a cobranded Hilton card.
Related: Why Hilton should add a new elite tier above Diamond
Following Hilton’s footsteps, Hyatt announced it would reduce elite status requirements by 50% for the 2021 qualification year. And remember, any status earned in 2021 will be valid all the way through Feb. 28, 2023.
Here’s a look at how the 2021 tier requirements break down:
- Discoverist: Stay five tier-qualifying nights or earn 12,500 base points ($2,500 in spending)
- Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights or earn 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending)
- Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending)
These requirements may be even lower if you have a cobranded Hyatt card. Those with the World of Hyatt Credit Card automatically get five qualifying nights each year just for having the card. Additionally, cardholders earn two elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card with new cardholders potentially being eligible to earn nights even faster than that standard offer.
Related: Promotions that will make your next hotel stay more rewarding
Like last year, IHG is reducing IHG Rewards elite status requirements in 2021 by roughly 25%. Here’s what it will take to earn status this year:
- Gold Elite: 7,000 qualifying points or seven nights
- Platinum Elite: 30,000 qualifying points or 30 nights
- Spire Elite: 55,000 qualifying points or 55 nights
Furthermore, all qualifying nights earned by elite members in 2020 will roll over to 2021. IHG says that these rollover nights will automatically appear in member accounts by the end of March.
Related: Here’s what IHG Rewards is doing for its members in 2021
In addition to extending status for JAL Mileage Bank members with Fly On elite status, JAL will be giving elites bonus Fly On points to give them a head start in earning status for the following year.
The points will be credited by around mid-February 2021 based on your status as of Jan. 7, 2021:
- JMB Diamond members: 40,000 bonus FLY ON Points
- JGC Premier members: 28,000 FLY ON Points
- JMB Sapphire members: 15,000 FLY ON Points
- JMB Crystal members: 8,000 FLY ON Points
In mid-Dec. 2020, JetBlue announced some major changes to its Mosaic elite status program. In addition to extending status for current elites, it will make earning Mosaic status in 2021 easier. It is both reducing thresholds and introducing a new way to qualify altogether.
Here’s how you can earn Mosaic status in 2021:
- 7,500 Mosaic Qualifying points (usually 15,000 points)
- 6,000 Mosaic Qualifying points + 15 segments (usually 12,000 points and 30 segments)
- $50,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card during the calendar year (as before)
- $30,000 spent on purchases with the JetBlue Plus or JetBlue Business Card + 4,000 Mosaic Qualifying points during the calendar year (new and exclusively for 2021)
If you go beyond the qualification threshold during 2021, you’ll get extra bonuses and perks, including 10,000 bonus points (worth $130 based on TPG valuations) after 10,000 Mosaic Qualifying points, the opportunity to gift Mosaic status after 20,000 Mosaic Qualifying points and a free round-trip coach flight after 30,000 Mosaic Qualifying points.
Further, as of June 9, 2021, base points and flight segments earned on JetBlue Vacations packages and standalone hotels and activity through the new Paisly by JetBlue travel platform count toward Mosaic status. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on flights booked as a part of a package and 1 point per dollar on hotels, cars and transfers booked as part of a package and hotels and activities booked through Paisly.
Related: The complete guide to the JetBlue TrueBlue program
Lufthansa Miles and More
In addition to extending status for current elites, Lufthansa is making it easier to earn status this year. In 2021, you’ll earn double status miles on all flights operated by Lufthansa Group airlines — Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings. Additionally, you’ll earn double the HON Circle miles in business and first class. No registration is required.
Marriott Bonvoy isn’t making broad adjustments to its qualification requirements. The only change is a reduction in the $20,000 spend threshold for attaining Ambassador Elite status by 30% for 2021.
However, it’s still making it easier to earn elite status in 2021 in several ways. Like last year, current elites will receive 50% of the elite nights needed to qualify for the elite status they held in 2020.
Related: Marriott Bonvoy makes it easier to earn elite status and redeem points in 2021
Like last year, Southwest is giving all Rapid Rewards members a head-start towards the Companion Pass benefit and A-List elite status. All members with an account opened by Dec. 31, 2020 will automatically receive 15,000 tier qualifying points (TQPs), 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points (CPQPs), 10 qualifying one-way flight segments towards tier status and 25 qualifying one-way flights towards Companion Pass.
With these boosts, here are the remaining requirements to qualify for status this year:
- A-List Status: 20,000 points or 15 flights
- A-List Preferred Status: 55,000 points or 40 flights
- Companion Pass: 100,000 points or 75 flights
Southwest is also making it easier to qualify for status by offering double tier-qualifying points (TQPs) through a limited-time promotion.
Furthermore, cobranded Southwest credit cardholders can earn an uncapped 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 spent using their card from the first day of the billing cycle ending in January 2021 through the last statement of December 2021. In other words, you can spend your way to status without flying.
Shortly after American’s announcement, United said it would also make it easier to earn Premier elite status in 2021. Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) requirements have been reduced by around 25% for the 2021 qualification year.
As a reminder, travelers earn one PQP for each eligible dollar spent on tickets issued by United or based on distance and fare class for tickets issued by partners. You’ll also earn one PQF for each eligible flight segment flown.
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Silver: 3,000 PQPs/8 PQFs or 3,500 PQPs
- Gold: 6,000 PQPs/16 PQFs or 7,000 PQPs
- Platinum: 9,000 PQPs/24 PQFs or 10,000 PQPs
- Premier 1K: 13,500 PQPs/36 PQFs or 15,000 PQPs
In addition to the reduced requirements, anyone who currently holds elite status will automatically get 25% of the PQP-only requirement for 2021 deposited into their accounts. Silver members should expect 875 PQPs, Gold 1,750, Platinum 2,500 and Premier 1K 3,750. Don’t forget that United requires that elites fly a minimum of four segments on United or United Express to qualify for status, so you can’t automatically earn status next year from this bonus alone.
Related: How to maximize the United MileagePlus program
On top of all of that, United has offered several promotions over the course of the year, making it even easier to fast-track bonus PQPs.
Keep in mind that you can also earn PQPs with cobranded United credit cards, such as the United Explorer Card and the United Club Infinite Card.
Related: How to unlock additional award availability with United credit cards
Virgin Atlantic recently announced elite status and Companion Voucher extensions. Gold and Silver elite members will have their status extended by an additional three months. They will also have an extra three months to requalify for status.
Virgin Atlantic is also extending the following rewards that are valid as of 13 March 2020:
- Companion Vouchers have been extended by three months
- Upgrade Vouchers have been extended by three months
- Clubhouse Vouchers have been extended by three months
While not the most rewarding program around, Wyndham Rewards reduced elite status qualifications in 2021 by 40%. Here’s what it will take to earn Wyndham elite status this year:
- Gold: 3 nights
- Platinum: 9 nights
- Diamond: 24 nights
Remember that if you qualify for Wyndham Diamond status, you could match that to Diamond status within the Caesars Hotels and Resorts chain. Caesars Diamond perks include waived resort fees on all stays, complimentary valet and self-parking and a $100 annual celebration dinner at Caesars-owned restaurants.
Related: If I book a hotel on December 31, what year will my stay count toward?
Many airline and hotel loyalty programs are making it easier to earn elite status in 2021, while some are even reducing qualifications for next year. However, as you can see, there still are a few major programs on this list that can do more for its members. More changes will likely be announced in the weeks to come, so be sure to bookmark this guide and check back regularly as we update it with more information.
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Featured photo by Mlenny/Getty Images
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.Internet Explorer Channel Network