Use These Credit Cards to Get Elite Status, Freebies and Upgrades

Use These Credit Cards to Get Elite Status, Freebies and Upgrades
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Everyone loves flying first class and staying in lavish hotel suites, but unless you have endless cash on hand, these things can be hard for the average person to swing. Luckily, there are ways to hack your way to a luxurious getaway without having to pay a cent out of pocket. Gain elite status by signing up for the right credit cards, and you’ll increase your chance for upgrades and freebies by a mile. Note: Citi is a partner of Brad’s Deals.

We’ve done the research. If you want to gain elite status for travel and hotel perks, check out these credit cards.

The Best Credit Cards for Elite Status in 2020

Credit Card Options:
Delta Airlines
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United Airlines
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American Airlines
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Marriott Bonvoy
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World of Hyatt
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IHG Rewards
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Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines requires not only “Medallion Qualifying Miles” (MQMs) for status qualification, but also “Medallion Qualifying Dollars” (MQDs). This means that in order to earn Delta status each year, you’ll need to both fly and spend a certain amount on Delta flights. However, if you have a Delta co-branded credit card, you don’t need to book trips every other weekend in order to gain elite status. If you can rack up $25,000 in spend on a co-branded Delta card in a year, your spend requirement on Delta flights is waived for status up to Platinum. If you wish to waive the requirement for Diamond, you’ll need to spend $250,000 on your cards during the year.

There are three co-branded Delta credit cards, each with business versions, issued by American Express.

The Gold Delta Skymiles Credit Card currently gives you 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 in the first three months. This is a pretty low spend requirement for that amount of miles, and you’ll also earn a $50 statement credit for making a Delta purchase (even a beer in-flight) within the first three months. You’ll earn two miles per dollar on Delta purchases, and one mile per dollar on everything else. Your first checked bag is free, and you’ll receive 20 percent off in-flight purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees, and if you make $25,000 in purchases on the card, the Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement is waived. The annual fee on this card is $0 for the first year, and $95 after that.

The Platinum Delta Skymiles Credit Card gives you 35,000 bonus miles, and 10,000 MQMs when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership. You’ll also receive a $100 statement credit for making a Delta purchase. Miles earning is the same (two miles for Delta, one mile for everything else). You’ll also forgo the Medallion Qualification Dollar requirement if you spend $25,000 in a calendar year on the card. What makes this card great is that you’ll earn lots of MQMs — 15,000 at sign up, plus 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 regular miles if you spend $25,000 and another 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 regular miles if you spend $50,000. Use this card to get Silver status with the airline without ever flying a mile, plus 70,000 miles to use on award tickets. The annual fee is $195.

The Delta Reserve Credit Card earns you 10,000 MQMs and 40,000 redeemable when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll earn two miles per dollar on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar on everything else. You’ll earn 15,000 MQMs each calendar year when you spend $30,000 on purchases on the card, then when you reach $60,000, $90,000, and $120,000 or more in purchases in a calendar year, earn 15,000 MQMs for each threshold.

There are also business versions of the Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards.


United Airlines

Like Delta, United Airlines offers spending waivers if you spend $25,000 on their credit card products annually. The United MileagePlus Card from Chase offers such a waiver, as well as the MileagePlus Presidential and Club Cards. However, unlike Delta, these cards won’t get you any “Premier Qualifying Miles” towards elite status.

One good way around this is through Marriott‘s RewardsPlus program, which offers Marriott Bonvoy Titanium and Ambassador members United Silver status. See below on how to acquire Marriott top-tier status through credit cards.

Amerian Airlines plane flying

American Airlines

Unfortunately for American Airlines members like myself, the airline instituted Elite Qualifying Dollars in 2017. Luckily, there are opportunities to earn Elite Qualifying Miles. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard offers 10,000 EQMs when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year. The Barclaycard Silver Aviator card offers 10,000 EQMs for $40,000 in spend as well, so you’ll be only 5,000 EQMs short of Gold status.

Marriot rewards offer

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Rewards is now called Marriott Bonvoy, which is the combined program name for Marriott, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offers 15 elite nights automatically, just for having the card, which is good enough for Silver status. You’ll also get Gold status when you spend $35,000 in a year on the card. Unfortunately, this version of the credit card does not allow you to earn additional nights for spend, unlike in the past.

Entrance of the Hyatt Regency Boston Entrance


Hyatt offers one co-branded credit card for status, and unfortunately, it’s only lowly Discoverist status for owning the card. However, recent changes to the card now allow you to earn two elite nights per $5,000 in spend on the card, allowing you to receive top-tier status all from credit card spending!

Crowne Plaza Paris


IHG’s co-branded credit card with Chase, the IHG Rewards Club Premier offers automatic Platinum status with the program, which is great, though there aren’t a ton of benefits associated with the membership level.

What are your favorite credit cards for gaining elite status? Let us know in the comments!

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