AIR MILES lowers requirements to reach Gold and Onyx Elite status – is it enough to help the struggling program?


AIR MILES has let us know they are lowering the qualification thresholds for acquiring Gold or Onyx Elite Status with the program. Up until now collectors were required to earn 1,000 Reward Miles in a calendar year to achieve Gold Status and 6,000 miles for Onyx Status. Those requirements have now been lowered to 500 and 5,000 miles respectively.

Gold Status

AIR MILES Gold Status can now be achieved by only earning 500 miles in a calendar year instead of 1,000 miles. You can also receive automatic Gold Elite status in the program if you have the the no fee BMO AIR MILES®† MasterCard®*

Gold Elite Status provides some extra bonus offers, access to exclusive experiences, and up to 5% fewer Miles requireed when redeeming for merchandise items along with select flight discounts and more.

Onyx Status

AIR MILES Onyx Status can now be achieved by earning 5,000 miles in calendar year instead of 6,000 miles. You can also receive automatic Onyx Elite status if you have the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* MasterCard®* or the American Express® AIR MILES®* Reserve Credit 

Onyx Elite Status provides an automatic upgrade to Shell Go+ status (until December 31, 2022), personal shopper service and priority customer service with AIR MILES. Onyx members also receive bonus offers and require up to 10% fewer Miles required when redeeming for merchandise items plus they also get select flight discounts and more

If you have already earned 500 or 5,000 miles this year you will be automatically upgraded to your new elite status level. 

Wrapping it up

Any time a loyalty program lowers requirements in their program it tends to be a win for the members of that program. However, as much as this seems like good news, I see the lowering as a necessary move for AIR MILES as there are fewer and fewer meaningful avenues to earn Reward Miles. It used to be quite easy to reach the 1,000 mile level for Gold by shopping at Safeway, Sobeys, Rona, Old Navy and so many other retailers that the program has now lost over the years (or is in the process of losing). In fact you could collect at so many places and earn so many bonuses that collectors even hit Onyx status without a credit card. But now if you don’t have an AIR MILES credit card, it may actually take you longer to reach these lowered threshold status levels.  Seeing that there have not been any recent Bonus Boom promotions, no Mega Miles promotions, nada, zip, nothing. Earning AIR MILES Rewards Miles has become tougher and thus earning status has become tougher so the need was there to lower the requirements.

I know from personal experience I have reached Gold year upon year thanks to being a frequent Sobeys shopper and easily earning miles there. Add on top some occasional Shell, Staples, and Safeway purchases and I would usually clear 1,000 miles 10 or 11 months into the year. I don’t see myself hitting Gold next year as I will perhaps earn a couple dozen miles with Shell and I don’t think I’ll earn many miles elsewhere. If I shop online, most of it is through Aeroplan’s eStore, I may make one or two purchases through AIR MILES Shops for stores that Aeroplan doesn’t have but again that may only add 10 or so miles to my tally for the year. 

As much as AIR MILES is dressing this up an enhancement to the program it doesn’t address the core problem of the AIR MILES program and that’s its lack of major partners now. If you don’t have an AIR MILES credit card, don’t live in Ontario to shop at Metro and/or are not a frequent online shopper, the whole premise of the AIR MILES program that Canadians have known and grown to love for 30 years is no longer there. Enhancing the elite status does nothing for members if they don’t have the avenues to earn those miles to reach those thresholds.   

Image via AIR MILES