Editor's note: We're constantly updating this post with the latest information on earning status with hotels and airlines. It was last updated Dec. 10, 2020.
Way back in the early days of the pandemic, many airlines and hotel chains handed an olive branch to travelers by automatically extending their elite status through 2021. That means there's no need to worry about flying or hotel-hopping to lock in status for next year.
But by now, it's clear 2021 won't be back to normal, either. So airlines and hotel chains alike are looking farther ahead, making it much easier to earn status next year. Keep in mind: If you earn status with an airline or hotel in 2021, you'll typically get to use those benefits until at least early 2023.
Let's be clear: Chasing status isn't for everyone. Unless if you're flying dozens of times a year and constantly staying in hotels on the company's dime, the average traveler is much better off as a free agent. That said, some of these opportunities to earn status more easily could have some appeal.
Here's a look at how some of the biggest airlines and hotel chains are making it easier to earn status for 2022 and beyond.
American AAdvantage Status
Already have status with American Airlines? The airline extended it back in April, so whatever you've got will carry through Jan. 31, 2022.
But if you want to go even farther, American has also made it much easier by lowering the requirements to earn status in 2021. Earn status in 2021, and it will last you all the way through Jan. 31, 2023.
Here's a look at the new qualification thresholds for AAdvantage status. From Gold to Executive Platinum, the requirements have dropped by 20% to as much as 33%. You need to earn a combination of either Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) or Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) AND spend enough Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) to earn status with American.
What's more, American is also giving you more time. Any flights with American from October 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021 will count toward earning this status. That's an extra three months.
And American did one other unique thing: From May 2020 through December 2020, every dollar you spend on most American co-branded credit cards will count toward earning American's Million Miler status. That's far, far out of reach for most travelers but still a nice touch when even diehard American flyers are grounded.
Delta Medallion Status
Delta was the first major U.S. airline to extend status, giving Delta Medallion status holders until Jan. 31, 2022 to keep their current Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
But since then, Delta has gone relatively quiet. While its top competitors have slashed the requirements to earn status for 2022 and beyond, Delta hasn't done much. As of now, earning Delta Medallion Status requires the same mix of flying and spending as always.
Read more: Is Delta Medallion Status Really Worth It?
But Delta has made some smaller changes to make it easier to reach status in 2021. To start, any Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) you earn this year will roll straight over into 2021. Unfortunately, you'll still need to spend the same amount of money with Delta, as Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs) won't roll over with them.
In 2021, Platinum cardholders can earn 12,500 MQMs after spending $20,000 on their card – up from the normal 10,000 MQM boost. And Reserve cardholders will be able to earn 18,750 MQMs after spending $30,000 – up from the norm of 15,000 – a total of four times, meaning Reserve cardholders can earn up to 75,000 MQMs on credit card spending alone.
JetBlue Mosaic Status
JetBlue took its sweet time, but eventually extended current members' Mosaic status all the way through 2021. That means there's no need to worry about racking up a bunch of miles with JetBlue to keep status next year.
JetBlue has also made it much easier to earn status this year by halving the flying requirements. But so far, the New York-based carrier is mum on what it may do next year for flyers who want Mosaic status for 2022.
Southwest A-List Status (Plus the Companion Pass!)
Like other airlines, Southwest has automatically extended anyone with its A-List or A-List Preferred status for another full year. Like other airlines, Southwest has also made it much easier for Southwest newcomers to earn status this year by giving them a headstart.
And for status, that's where it stops. There's no word yet on how Southwest may alter its status earning requirements for 2021.
But things got interesting with the Southwest Companion Pass, the airline's vaunted buy-one, get-one flight certificate. For starters, the airline extended every Companion Pass set to expire this year until at least June 30, 2021.
But they also made it much easier to flyers to earn a Companion Pass this year (which would last all the way through 2021) by giving travelers a 25,000-point boost. Considering you need to earn 125,000 Southwest points to get a Companion Pass, that's a sizable leg up.
That said, the timing may not exactly add up anymore. Earn a Companion Pass today, and it will last you through 2021. Earn it on Jan. 1, 2021 and beyond, and it would last you all the way through 2022 – almost two full years!
Read our master guide to earning the Southwest Companion Pass!
United MileagePlus Status
Rounding out the Big Three U.S. airlines, United also automatically extended everyone's current Premier status through January 2022. But United has arguably gone farther than any other airline to make it easier to earn status going forward, too.
From Premier Silver to top-tier 1K members, United has slashed the requirements to earn status next year – getting you Premier benefits all the way through January 2023. After shaking up how members earn and use status, United now uses a simplified combination of flying plus spending with United to climb the rungs of Premier status – along with a pathway to simply spend your way to status.
No matter how you slice it, those requirements are dropping by as much as nearly 40%. Take a look:
But that's not all. United is also giving current status-holders a leg up on requalifying (or leveling up) their Premier levels with some bonus Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs). Silver members will start the year with 875 PQPs; Gold members get 1,750 PQPs; Platinum members start with 2,500 PQPs; and 1K members get an automatic 3,750-PQP headstart.
Hilton Honors Status
Hilton was the first major hotel chain to extend status, giving anyone with Honors status at least another full year with their current benefits.
- If your status earned for 2019 is set to expire on March 31, that’s now pushed all the way out to March 31, 2021.
- All status earned for 2020 (based on how many Hilton stays you had in 2019) now won’t expire until March 31, 2022.
But in the months since, it's gone much farther. For starters, Hilton announced that any hotel stays in 2020 will roll over to count toward earning (or leveling up) status in 2021.
But starting Jan. 1, 2021, it's going to be much easier to climb the rungs of Hilton Honors status, too. That's because Hilton isn't just cutting the requirements to earn status: They've cut them in half. Here's a look at what you need to earn Hilton status next year:
- Diamond Honors Status: 15 stays OR 30 nights OR 60,000 base points
- Gold Honors Status: 10 stays OR 30 nights OR 37,500 base points
- Silver Honors Status: 2 stays OR 5 nights OR 12,500 base points
Keep in mind you can automatically get Hilton Gold status (which we think is the most valuable mid-tier hotel status) with the Platinum Card from American Express. Or you can skip your way all the way to Diamond status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
World of Hyatt Status
If Hilton made a splash by making it easier to earn status in 2021, Hyatt caused a tsunami.
Like Hilton, Hyatt automatically extended current members' status: Anyone with status as of March 31 will carry that same status all the way through Feb. 28, 2022. Like Hilton, Hyatt also halved the requirements for earning status next year.
And that provides an easy avenue to climb from the status ladder from Hyatt Discoverist to Explorist to Globalist – one of the best status levels in the world of hotels thanks to suite upgrade certificates, free lounge access, waived resort fees, and two free night stays a year. Here's how it looks for earning Hyatt status in 2021 (which will last you all the way into early 2023):
- Discoverist: Stay five tier-qualifying nights OR earn 12,500 base points
- Explorist: Stay 15 tier-qualifying nights OR earn 25,000 base points
- Globalist: Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points
Easy enough, right? Well, it gets even easier. With the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you'll get 10 of those tier-qualifying nights by the time 2021 rolls around if you pick up the card by the end of the year – not to mention earning up to 50,000 Hyatt points after spending $6,000 within the first six months, automatic Discoverist status, and more. By earning the bonus, you'll earn an extra two qualifying nights – and that leaves you with just 18 more qualifying nights to go.
But Hyatt is also running a special “Bonus Journeys” promotion offering double tier-qualifying nights on all stays through February. And that means you could reach Hyatt Globalist status, which typically requires 60 nights in a year, with just 9 tier-qualifying nights.
And you can even knock out those tier-qualifying nights by booking award stays with points – and for even fewer points, thanks to another promotion with up to 25% back on all award stays through Feb. 28, 2021.
Marriott Bonvoy Status
Like its big-box hotel chain competitors, Marriott also automatically extended all status through February 2022. They also made it much easier to level up your current status for next year.
Surprisingly, we haven't yet heard from Marriott on whether they'll lower the requirements to earn status again for 2022 and beyond.
But that doesn't mean there aren't exciting opportunities. First, you can earn automatic Gold Elite status with The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Want to go next level? American Express and Marriott are out with great new offers on both their Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card that will allow you to earn a full year of Platinum Elite status. Read more about these credit card offers here!
We're in uncharted territory. With travel on pause and no sign of when it may return to normal, airlines and hotel chains are pulling out all the stops to help travelers earn and build status in 2021 and beyond.
Does that mean every average Joe and Jane should chase status with Hyatt, Hilton, American, or Southwest? Absolutely not. But the math is getting a lot easier.