I remember your disappointment. Marx has an Elite+ rank that compensates for the power creep, I think the equivalent criteria is something like 2 Billion credits now. But even when I did it (in January 2016) neutron farming was a thing, and the story behind achieving the rank(s) is what's important to me rather than just the rank alone. Some stories are more interesting than others but really they (the Elite ranks) are only worth what the player assigns to them.It's kind of weird, and I'm not meaning this as a veiled threat or anything like that at all, but being able to change ship cosmetics anywhere will seem like less a part of the game and more a tacked on micro transaction scheme. If I can just change them around whenever, they'll mean less to me, so I'll likely be less inclined to want them.
It's kind of like when I got the Elite Explorer rank in the game. Ranking up in it had been changed around so much and made so much easier that by the time I actually got it, it was very underwhelming, to the extent that I didn't even want to be listed on the Elite Explorer roster in the Exploration section of the forums.
Maybe that's just me, and sorry for the tangent. Your post made me think of that for some reason.
I am proud of my achievements in the game because I know what it took for me to achieve them and some had nothing to do with exploration at all.