Credit Cards Elite Status

Great Airline Credit Cards To Use For 2015

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We have started the next year and that means a reset on elite qualification (for most programs) and credit card spending thresholds. With that in mind, we have an entire year to reap the miles and benefits that can come from cards with spending thresholds or benefits. So, which credit cards should you look to use to generate a lot of miles and benefits for 2015?

Great Credit Cards To Use For 2015

American Airlines – Credit Cards For Earning Miles And Status

This year is a pivotal point for the new American Airlines as the frequent flyer programs of both American Airlines and US Airways will merge into one this year. This means that we still have time to generate miles within each program that will be merged into a single mileage account later on. With that in mind, here are some cards to focus on to generate the most miles for AA – and even miles that count for elite status. I will also include the US Airway cards in this section since they will merge.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard – Use For Elite Status / Spend $40,000 in 2015 for 10,000 Elite Miles – Application Link

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Current Offer: This card was the one with the best offer of 2014 – 100,000 miles! Many people got several of these cards to generate a large amount of AA miles with this card. It does carry a $450 annual fee (not waived the first year) but that does come with access to the AA and US Air lounges, which is a pretty great perk if traveling with AA or US. The current offer is 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in 3 months.

Reason to Spend: Though the great offer is gone (down to 50,000 miles), this card is still a winner to use for generating elite miles. If you spend $40,000 on this card (across any of the AA Executive AAdvantage cards you have as a total – so, 2 of these cards would only require you spend $20,000 on each) in a year, you will earn 10,000 EQM, or elite qualifying miles, towards AA status. Since the base level of status is 25,000 miles, it would leave you 15,000 elite miles away from qualifying for AAdvantage Gold for 2015 and 2016.

Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard – Use For Elite Status / Spend $20,000 in 2015 for 5,000 Elite Miles – Up to 10,000 Elite Miles

Current Offer: This card is not being offered to new applicants but as an offer to existing US Airways Premier MasterCard holders to be upgrade to this card. It comes with a $195 annual fee (up from the $89 of the current US Airways card) but comes with an extra mile for spending on AA/US flights (3x miles per $1 spent on AA/US flights) and gives 2x miles for car rental/hotel spend. It also gives the nice perk of 10% rebate on award miles redeemed in a calendar year, up to 10,000 miles back, which is similar to the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card.

Reason To Spend: If you received this offer and want elite status with AA, this card would be a good card to put some spend on. For each $20,000 you spend in a calendar year (up to $40,000), you will receive 5,000 elite miles. Combined with the AAdvantage Executive card, that would give you a total of 20,000 elite miles – but it would require you spending $80,000 in a calendar year between these two cards! Still, if you want to ensure you have the highest possible status possible when the programs merge, this could be a way to help with that.

Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card from American Express – Use For AA/US Miles / Receive 5,000 Mile Bonus For Every 20,000 Points Transferred – Application Link

While not an airline card, points earned with this card can be transferred to many airlines.

great credit cardsCurrent Offer: The current offer on this card is to receive 10,000 Starpoints after first purchase and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in 6 months. The $65 annual fee is waived for the first year. This card gives 1 Starpoint per dollar on all spending (except spending at SPG hotels where it earns 2 points per dollar). When transferred to airlines, it gives an extra 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

Reason To Spend: This is really the best card to use for AA and US miles since both airlines are 1:1 transfer partners. When combined with the 5,000 mile bonus on 20,000 point transfers, that equals a 1.25 mile earning on all spending with this card. If you are doing spending on hotels or rental cards, the Aviator Silver card above would be better, earning 2 miles per dollar. But, for all general spending, the SPG Amex card is the best card to earn AA/US miles with. It does take a few days for the transfer to occur, so factor that in. But, having the ability to earn points that are very flexible in the case of an eventual AA award devaluation is very valuable. This card does not run any of the benefits or miles on a calendar basis (for AA/US miles), but if you want to generate AA/US miles this year, this is a great card to do it with.

Delta Airlines – Credit Cards For Earning Miles and Status

For 2015 and onward, the best way for a majority of Delta flyers to earn award miles is going to be through credit cards. As a result, if you want to generate miles for future trips, these cards will be important for your mileage strategy.

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card – Use For Delta Award Miles and Elite Miles / Spend $25,000 in 2015 for 10,000 Elite Miles – Up to 20,000 Elite Miles 

Application Link (Personal) / Application Link (Business)

great credit cardsCurrent Offer: The current offer on this card is to receive 5,000 elite miles (MQM) and 30,000 award miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months. New cardmembers will also receive a $100 statement credit after their first Delta purchase. The $195 annual fee is not waived for the first year. On each card anniversary, cardholders will receive a companion ticket.

Reason To Spend: If you want to earn award miles and elite miles, this will be a great card to use for your spending. If you spend $50,000 in the 2015 calendar year, you will receive 20,000 elite miles and 20,000 award miles. That will leave you only 5,000 miles short of having Silver status or a great way to bump you up to your next elite level. If you spend $50,000 on regular purchases, you will have essentially earned 1.4 award miles on all spending (because of the 20,000 award mile bonus for spending $50,000). The bonus is available in 10,000 mile increments for $25,000 of spending (maxing out at $50,000). This offer is available on both the personal and business card.

Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express – Use For Delta Award Miles and Elite Miles / Spend $30,000 in 2015 for 15,000 Elite Miles – Up to 30,000 Elite Miles

Application Link (Personal) / Application Link (Business)

great credit cardsCurrent Offer: The current offer on this card is to receive 10,000 elite miles (MQM) and 10,000 award miles after your first purchase. The $450 annual fee is not waived and that is a big one. But, it does come with Skyclub access and the unique opportunity to gift the elite miles earned by spending on this card to another Skymiles member. Also, on each card anniversary, cardholders will receive a companion ticket good for domestic first class or economy.

Reason To Spend: If you are going to spend some time flying Delta, this card could suit your needs very well with both the lounge access and the spending thresholds. If you spend $60,000 in a calendar year, you will receive a total of 30,000 elite miles and 30,000 award miles. That turns your $60,000 of everyday spending into an earning rate of 1.5 miles per dollar (because of the award bonus for meeting the spending threshold). The spending threshold is set up for $30K/$60K and you will receive 15,000 elite miles and 15,000 award miles at each of those levels. If you put $60,000 on one of these cards, you will earn 30,000 elite miles (more than enough for Silver status) – without ever having stepped on a plane!

Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card from American Express – Use For Delta Miles / Receive 5,000 Mile Bonus For Every 20,000 Points Transferred – Application Link

great credit cardsCurrent Offer: The current offer on this card is to receive 10,000 Starpoints after first purchase and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in 6 months. The $65 annual fee is waived for the first year. This card gives 1 Starpoint per dollar on all spending (except spending at SPG hotels where it earns 2 points per dollar). When transferred to airlines, it gives an extra 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

Reason To Spend: When combined with the 5,000 mile bonus on 20,000 point transfers, that equals a 1.25 mile earning on all spending with this card. If you do not like the idea of the higher annual fees, the SPG Amex card is the best card to earn Delta miles with. It does take a few days for the transfer to occur, so factor that in.

United Airlines – Credit Cards For Earning Miles

If you have the old Presidential Plus card, that card still allows you to earn 1,000 elite miles for every $5,000 spent. It is a great card to earn miles towards elite status but is no longer available for new applicants.

United MileagePlus Explorer Card – Use For United Award Miles / Spend $25,000 in 2015 for 10,000 Bonus Miles – Application Link

Current Offer: The current offer on this card is to receive 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Reason To Spend: If you are using a card for everyday spending or non-bonus categories and you like United miles, this is a great card to use for that. For spending $25,000 in a calendar year, cardholders will receive a 10,000 mile bonus. Meeting that threshold means that cardholders will essentially have earned 1.4 miles per dollar for spending exactly $25,000. Other Chase cards that are in the Ultimate Rewards program can convert their points to United miles and have many bonus categories, but if you are going to use a card for non-bonus categories, this is a great one to use.

United Club Card – Use For United Award Miles / Earn 1.5 Miles On Every Dollar Spent – Application Link

great credit cardCurrent Offer: There is actually not a sign-up bonus for this card so it is not a great card to make an application for. However, you can convert your regular United credit card to a United Club card and, in many cases, get the $395 annual fee waived for the first year. The card has several strong points – Premier Access that allows you priority check-in/boarding, United Club membership, and the all-important 1.5 miles per dollar.

Reason To Spend: If you are going to get this card to use for the miles, you will need to spend at least $30,000 more on this card than the United MileagePlus Explorer card (for a total of $55,000) to make the extra miles earned be purchased for less than .7 cents a mile. If you do that amount of spending, you will have earned a total of 82,500 United miles. For non-bonus category spending, this is certainly the best card for earning United miles with big spending each year.

Summary

If you are going to do some big spending this year and want to earn airline miles on the major domestic airlines, these are the best credit cards for doing that. If you are interested in the Southwest Companion Pass, that is certainly a card(s) to do spending on, but with the frequent 50,000 point offers, you are better off waiting for one of those to get the 100,000 points quickly and easily. For the other airlines mentioned here, these are great credit cards to concentrate your spending on for 2015 to gain award miles and elite miles.

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

5 Comments

  • Charles, I believe either Delta Reserve(Ind or Biz) awards 10,000 MQM’s and SkyMIles at first purchase then 15,000 MQM’s(not 10,000) at $30K spend and another 15,000 MQM’s at $60K spend.

  • Ha, no worries. Essentially in year 1 this card will take you almost to Gold Med with Delta while also granting SkyClub(for you and you ONLY) access. Seems like a no-brainer for anyone who frequents Delta and their hubs.

    • From what I have heard, yes, they will combine. The minimum spend amounts have to be made for each product (cannot combine the spend) but the EQMs should post separately since they are for different products.

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