When trying to achieve or keep status with an airline, there are multiple methods to rack up miles. Every traveler leads a different lifestyle, meaning they might find one method to be more effective than other. We’re going to lay out the most popular avenues to earn miles, and how effective they tend to be. However, at the end of the day it really just comes down to your personal preferences and goals when it comes to travel.
If you’re unfamiliar with the practice of milage running, you might think it sounds a bit strange. In order to quickly secure large amounts of airline miles, people will book relatively inexpensive flights for far distances. Often, they’ll travel right back home the same day. To some, it’s bizarre, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great tool for gaining elite status with an airline.
Should you do a mileage run? Although the idea puts a bad taste in the mouth of some, others swear by the practice. There’s a lot more to mileage running than meets the eye, but let’s look at it in its simplest form. If you’re a) someone who has lots of free time and b) someone who doesn’t mind flying and hanging out in airports, then you might want to consider mileage running as your primary method to reaching elite status.
On the other hand, you might be a busy person with a family at home. In that case, mileage running won’t be as easy or rewarding for you as it is for others. This practice will require you to sacrifice time with your loved ones. Not to mention, all of the time you can spend doing things you actually enjoy. But again, this is all based on personal preference. If you believe mileage running will benefit you more than it will harm you, then it’s not such a bad idea.
Credit Card Spending
Another popular tool that people use to gain status is by signing up for an airline’s co-branded credit card. Although not every airline offers this option, there are a few worth looking at. For example, JetBlue’s TrueBlue Mosaic status can be reached solely by spending. Instead of either earning base flight points or racking up segments to move through the status levels, you can utilize a JetBlue Plus Card. If you spend a minimum of $50,000 in a year on your card, you’ll automatically be gifted Mosaic status, which is the most elite status in JetBlue’s loyalty program.
United Airlines also has a credit card that allows you to earn PQM (Premier Qualifying Miles). Although the Presidential Plus Card is no longer open to new applicants, current cardholders can reap the benefits. For every $5,000 charged to the card, you’ll receive 1,000 PQM toward status.
If you’re a big credit card spender, this is one of the easiest methods to reach status when done right, and of course when it’s available. Typically, you’d be using the credit card on purchases you’re already making. However, you are limited to the few airlines that have such a promotion available.
Buying Elite Miles
Out of all the methods to achieve status, buying elite miles may be the most straightforward. Although every technique is going to require spending money one way or another, this one’s only real requirement is to spend money. That’s right, you won’t have to spend time flying or finding purchases to charge to your credit card. You simply purchase the miles as if you’re buying anything else online.
Well, it’s not always that simple. Depending on the airline, you’ll usually need to have an active reservation to purchase those miles. Not to mention, the price can vary depending on the time of the year as well as other factors. You might find it beneficial to tack on a mileage purchase to your reservation when the price seems right. Again, this method is highly dependent on personal preference. It will probably end up being cheaper to make a mileage run than to purchase miles, but the latter is usually preferred due to convenience.
Sometimes, airlines may run a status match promotion. In this case, an airline will vow to match the status you have with another airline, as long as you adhere to the qualifications and submit the proper documents. Typically, you’ll have a set period of time to earn a fixed amount of miles with the airline before you can adopt the new status.
It’s difficult to generalize this method, since every airline varies with their requirements for a status match. Plus, if you’ve yet to achieve elite status with an airline, you can’t present anything to be matched. If you already have elite status with an airline, participating in another airline’s loyalty program might not be a good idea. That is, unless you’re planning to totally switch over. At The Pointster, we often highlight reasons why airline loyalty is crucial for travelers.
You’ll need to take a closer look at individual airlines to determine when and how they will participate in status match challenges.
The Bottom Line
When choosing how you will proceed to achieve elite status with an airline, it all comes down to personal preference. Some travelers value time over money, and some value money over time. The good news is that no matter what category you fall under, you’ve got options. There’s even fun shortcuts you can take, like status matches.
Maybe you’re someone who changes your mind a lot. You don’t have to stick to one method. All of the options available for reaching status can be combined. This month you might have plenty of time for mileage runs, but maybe next month you’d rather get miles by charging your credit card. Allowing yourself to have flexibility might lead to quicker satisfaction… it’s all up to you!
Plus, there are plenty of other ways to achieve status that aren’t outlined in this article. We’ve just discussed some of the most popular methods for quickly accumulating miles. What’s the one thing that every method has in common? Spending money. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’re gonna have to dish out the cash in order to reap the benefits of elite status. However, you can surely customize how your money (and time!) is spent to suit your needs.