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Getting The Worm – Why To Start Elite Status Qualification Early

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Elite Status Qualification

I have a complex, dynamic relationship with travel loyalty program elite status.  It can go from days long past (United 1k), to not caring at all (airline status, until AA invented Loyalty Points), huge fandom (while Diamond under the Hyatt’s previous Gold Passport program), solid levels of utility (Hilton Gold and Diamond), I-really-had-that-status (Amtrak top-tier), and everything in between.  I’m confident I’m not alone.  Travelers’ status needs change from year to year, and so should their elite status qualification strategies.  Many hardcore hobbyists spend way too much time and money – eek – thinking and qualifying for status.  I’m waving the pro-status flag today, though, making the case for why travelers should more promptly achieve it.  Let’s dive in.

Maximizing

In general, when a member reaches a given status, most loyalty programs provide that status for the remainder of a given calendar year, all of the next, and perhaps the beginning few months of a third.  The earlier one reaches status the first year, the longer the benefits of that effort last, reflecting a larger potential return on the investment.  That’s why I originally planned to forego requalifying for American Airlines status in 2023.  (For what it’s worth, I ended up hitting Executive Platinum again for unrelated reasons – see the Opportunities section below.)

Elite Status Qualification

Devaluation

Many travelers focus on the devaluation of travel currencies like hotel points and airline miles.  I do not, knowing that any redemption meeting my priority goals is the optimal one for me.  But I get why others pay attention to reward valuations for their respective situations.  And, undoubtedly, cent per point values have consistently decreased over time.  Of course, elite status devalues over time, as well, both in terms of the benefits elites receive and the changing requirements to obtain given levels (inevitably costing elite chasers more).

Travel entities reserve the right to change their programs at any time without notice.  Given this, I’m still confounded at the reactions people had to the Delta devaluations last year.  The level of surprise and insult people felt was a bit much, in my opinion.  At any rate, if a person reaches elite status earlier, it’s safe to say they’re less likely to be subject to devaluations than those who wait longer to requalify.

Opportunities

Active hobbyists often implement unique, time-sensitive strategies for obtaining elite status.  Plus, any type of existing elite member can often leverage status match opportunities.  What’s an option now probably won’t be one later, so it behooves us all to accomplish what we immediately can.  Of course, I know that I can never do everything.  But as long as I’m enjoying the process toward reaching my defined goals, I’ll promptly focus on my selected options.

Elite Status Qualification

Stuff Happens

As of this writing, we’re in the thick of elite status crunch time.  Some have days left to acquire status, and they’re naturally focused on the now.  Unfortunately, stuff happens.  For instance, that online portal may not track rewards as quickly as you expected, and you could come up short on your status goal.

Elsewhere, I’ll happily admit my own human errors come into play in our points and travel hobby.  With everything going on, I can get as confused and overwhelmed as anyone else.  Pursuing elite status qualification earlier in the year allows more room for said errors.

Elite Status Qualification – Conclusion

As Uncle Ben says, with great power comes great responsibility.  Don’t recklessly pursue elite status, going after something just because you can without knowing if you’d actually use it.  Define your travel goals up front and ascertain which elite status options make the most sense.  Then, proactively pursue this elite status.  I’ll keep at it when it makes optimal sense for my situation, and I encourage you to do the same!

What elite status qualification goals do you have in early 2024?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

3 COMMENTS

  1. […] In general, when a member reaches a given status, most loyalty programs provide that status for the remainder of a given calendar year, all of the next, and perhaps the beginning few months of a third. The earlier one reaches status the first year, the longer the benefits of that effort last, reflecting a larger potential return on the investment. ➡️ Read more […]

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