Big Spenders: Spend Your Way to Lifetime Airline & Hotel Elite Status

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Last week we saw how to earn hotel elite status and airline elite status via credit card spending.

You can also work your way towards lifetime elite status on Delta Airlines or Marriott via credit card spending.

I wouldn’t count on any “lifetime” status lasting until the end of your life (and may you have a long healthy life filled with lots of travel and happy memories!)

The “lifetime” usually refers to the lifetime of the hotel or airline frequent flyer program and can be terminated or the benefits can be watered down whenever the airline or hotel feels like it.

1.   Delta

Delta offers lifetime:

  • Silver status after earning 1 million MQMs
  • Gold status after earning 2 million MQMs
  • Platinum status after earning 4 million MQMs

Ok, this isn’t really “lifetime” status because the terms say, for example, “Members who reach one million Medallion Qualification Miles are currently awarded complimentary annual Silver Medallion status.” 

Note the use of the word “currently” and that the Silver status awarded to folks who earn more than 1 million elite miles is only an “annual” but currently recurring benefit.  The terms are clearly written to let Delta change the offering for earning 1 million elite miles when they want.

You can earn 100,000 Delta MQMs after spending $220,000 within a calendar year.

  • 30,000 MQM & redeemable miles on the Delta Reserve personal card after spending $60,000 in a calender year
  • 30,000 MQM & redeemable miles on the Delta Reserve business card after spending $60,000 in a calender year
  •  20,000 MQM & redeemable miles on the Delta Platinum personal card after spending $50,000 in a calender year
  • 20,000 MQM & redeemable miles on the Delta Platinum business card after spending $50,000 in a calender year

In addition to earning Delta MQMs, you would also earn 320,000 redeemable Delta miles each year (220,000 Delta miles at 1 mile per $1 spent + 100,000 bonus miles) after spending $220,000 (not including sign-up bonuses).

Elite or Medallion miles earned via a Delta Reserve credit card can be transferred to anyone’s Skymiles account, so you can theoretically have someone else transfer elite qualifying miles to your account if you’re unable to get approved for the 4 Delta cards above.

But it takes a long time to get “lifetime” elite status solely via credit card spending.

2.   Marriott

Marriott appears to have an unofficial lifetime elite status program.

Marriott requires:

  • 12+ years of membership AND
  • 600 nights for lifetime Silver, 800 nights for lifetime Gold & 1,000 nights for lifetime Platinum AND
  • 1,200,000 points for lifetime Silver, 1,600,000 points for lifetime Gold and 2,000,000 points for lifetime  Platinum AND
  • One year of elite status at the level

You can hit 3 out of the 4 requirements for Marriott lifetime status via spending alone and wait until you cross 12 years of membership with Marriott to cement your lifetime status.

The Chase Marriott Premier credit card earns 1 night elite credit for every $3,000 spent, so you’d need to spend:

  • $ 1.8 million for Lifetime Silver (600 nights X $3,000 per night)
  • $2.4 million for Lifetime Gold (800 nights X $3,000 per night)
  • $3 million for Lifetime Platinum (1,000 nights X $3,000 per night)

You’d also earn Marriott points for the spending so you’d get at least 1.8 million to 3 million Marriott points by spending your way to lifetime Marriott status.

Bottom Line:  You can earn “lifetime” elite status on Delta or Marriott, but it takes time to complete the requirements.   Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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