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A Reward More Programs Should Offer: When Your Airline Miles Roll Over

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A Reward More Programs Should Offer: When Your Airline Miles Roll Over

A Reward More Programs Should Offer: When Your Airline Miles Roll Over

When your airline miles roll over to the next year, you get a head start on earning elite status again. This is a very customer-friendly policy that I wish more loyalty programs would offer. Here’s how it works and the few programs offering it permanently.

How It Works: Your Miles Roll Over To Next Year

Some examples will show you how this works.

A Great Perk More Airlines Should Offer: When Your Miles Roll Over
American Airlines AAdvantge elite qualification requirements

When Your Miles Don’t Roll Over

These are the elite status levels with American Airlines and how to earn them. You need a combination of dollars spend (EQDs) PLUS either miles (EQMs) or segments flown (EQSs).

In a typical year, you need 50,000 EQMs to reach Platinum status. What happens if the New Year rolls around and you only had 49,999 EQMs? You’re that close to Platinum. However, you only got Gold status.

Next year, you start again at 0 and need to work your way toward re-qualifying for the year after.

Delta Medallion status qualification elements

When Your Airline Miles DO Roll Over

On the other side, Delta’s Medallion program and the Flying Blue program from Air France / KLM approach this differently. Here’s an example from Delta’s program.

With Delta, you need 50,000 MQMs (elite miles based on distance & cabin you fly in, etc.) to reach Gold status. What if you get 49,999 again? You’ve only qualified for Silver status, which requires 25,000 MQMs. What happens to those extra 24,999 MQMs that are more than you needed but not enough to go to the next level?

Delta gives those to you as a head start for next year.

Yes, you take all of the “more than needed but not enough for the next level” and roll them into next year. This means starting next year with 24,999 MQMs, which is a big head start.

Flying Blue XP chart

Flying Blue takes a similar approach. You earn EX (experience points) from flights, depending on distance & cabin. You need 180 XP in a year to reach Gold status. If you have only 179, that’s more than the 100 needed for Silver. They’ll give you those 79 extra as a jump start on next year. Your excess XP will roll over.

This Is VERY Customer Friendly

The fact your airline miles (or XP) roll over in these 2 programs is huge. Sure, some programs have temporarily rolled over or extended credits in 2020 and 2021. Delta Medallion and the Flying Blue program do it permanently. Getting a head start on status qualification for the following year is no small thing.

Giving your extra mileage earning back to you as a credit toward next year rewards you for your loyalty. The vast majority of programs don’t do anything like this, because they want you to start at 0 and spend all of that money with them again next year.

On the flip side, knowing I won’t get roll over miles can lead to 2 decisions by the customer. 1) It can produce erratic behavior to spend money you probably shouldn’t for the sake of the next status level. 2) There’s also the opposite possibility, where people don’t spend with that airline, because they know there’s no point going higher in their current level when they won’t hit the next tier.

If loyalty programs are about rewarding you for “loyalty” then helping you get started on next year is very rewarding.

A Reward More Programs Should Offer: When Your Airline Miles Roll Over

Final Thoughts

For those interested in airline status, the perk of airline miles that roll over can’t be overestimated. You keep the status level you earned from this year while getting a jump on earning for next year. You were close, but no cigar is the standard approach from most airlines. You were close, so here’s a credit on going beyond the minimum is very cool.

I wish more airline (and hotel!) loyalty programs took this approach of rollover credits from your current tier, so you could get a jump on next year. It’s a fantastic perk.

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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Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. This is interesting and definitely in line with my analysis on how airlines are treating status during COVID. Some have argued that airlines shouldn’t make it easy to get status based on little travel, or to extend current status further, because then that person has no incentive to fly that airline next year, if they’ve already gotten status again. Versus what I think, my position, is that I get status to USE IT. I can’t fly right now due to work restrictions. I will not make 1k again with United if they don’t extend my status through next year. If they don’t I will be a free agent and spend my first few international trips buying whatever business class fare is best for my trip, and try out different airlines and maybe United will win, maybe not. But they will have literally lost my loyalty. If they gave me the status I’d fly United to rack up the bonus miles I get with my 1k, and to reap the benefits of 1k, like first boarding (except for GS status) and such. to me it seems a no-brainer especially for folks who have been 1k for years, like me. So, much like Delta rolling over miles to help you stay loyal even if you missed the goal this year to get the status you liked, helping people retain status, is literally going to make them more loyal.

    • Lara – exactly. Loyalty should be a two-way street. Unfortunately, many programs want us to be loyal to them but not them to us.


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