American’s offer to let you buy back your elite status or buy a higher status launched a month ago. People used to mileage run. Airlines figured out they could charge more taking the money for the ticket plus even more money to save members’ time.
Although I already have enough travel booked to requalify as an Executive Platinum they’ll let me lock in next year’s status for a fee right now.
Delta’s offer is now live, too.
SkyMiles buy ups seemed like they were more expensive at least at the top end — and more expensive than American. Three years ago a common offer for an existing Platinum member was,
- Buy 2,500 MQMs for $2,195
- Buy 5,000 MQMs for $2,495
- Buy 7,500 MQMs for $2,795
- Buy 10,000 MQMs for $2,995
While someone with lower status might have seen:
- Buy 2,500 MQMs for $995
- Buy 5,000 MQMs for $1,295
- Buy 7,500 MQMs for $1,595
- Buy 10,000 MQMs for $1,795
Like American, Delta varies its pricing based on what it expects demand to be. Airlines are adept at charging customers as much as they might possibly be willing to pay for airfare, why not for qualifying miles too?
For 2018 one report of Delta SkyMiles pricing by a self-reported Platinum Medallion member is:
- 1000 qualifying miles, 3 segments, and $999 qualifying dollars = $999
- 2500 qualfiying miles, 6 segments, and $1299 qualifying dollars = $1299
- 5000 qualifying miles, 9 segments, and $1399 qualifying dollars = $1399
- 7500 qualifying miles, 12 segments, and $1599 qualifying dollars = $1599
- 10,000 qualifying miles, 15 segments, and $1899 qualifying dollars = $1899
- 12,500 qualifying miles, 18 segments, and $1999 qualifying dollars = $1999
In other words the money you spend to buy up towards status counts as qualifying dollars for elite spending requirements as well. Your purchase should post within 24 hours and adds to your 2018 balance and counts towards the status you’ll have for 2019. And any miles or segments above what you need for status roll over and count towards 2020 status.
Folks who received complimentary status for a higher level than they earned are not eligible, and neither are Diamond medallion members.
Prices aren’t cheap, you can probably fly for less money if you don’t also need qualifying dollars, but this doesn’t just save you the cost of those tickets it saves you time as well. Whether or not you should do this usually depends on how much you’ll use the status next year.
- If you aren’t likely to fly as much next year you probably should not do it.
- Since you’re not flying enough or spending enough to reach the tier on your own this year, flying the same next year suggests you may not be flying enough to justify higher levels of spend to reach for higher status.
- If next year’s flying will be greater, higher status is a good start on the year and you’re reasonably likely to make good use of the benefits.
If you’re considering a paid buy up, what is your status level and how much is Delta asking for the miles or segments you need?