Our guide to elite status on United Airlines gives an overview of the benefits and ways to earn status, plus tips to earn status faster.
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Whether you want to earn free flights or score spectacular perks with elite airline status, joining the United MileagePlus program is a smart idea. Not only can you earn airline miles any time you fly with United or one of its partners, but you can pool your loyalty to qualify for valuable elite status benefits such as better award availability, priority waitlisting and complimentary upgrades.
Scoring elite status can make travel more comfortable and more rewarding overall. Check out the chart below for details on each tier of elite status:
United Airlines elite status
|Premier||Premier Gold||Premier Platinum||Premier 1K|
|How to qualify|
25,000 PQMs and $3,000 PQDs
30 PQSs and $3,000 EQDs
|How to qualify|
50,000 PQMs and $6,000 PQDs
60 PQSs and $6,000 PQDs
|How to qualify|
75,000 PQMs and $9,000 PQDs
90 PQSs and $9,000 PQDs
|How to qualify|
100,000 PQMs and $12,000 PQDs
120 PQSs and $12,000 PQDs
Same benefits as Premier Silver members, plus:
Same benefits as Premier Gold members, plus:
Premier Platinum members, plus:
Qualifying for elite status with the United MileagePlus program
As you can see, qualifying for elite status with the United MileagePlus program requires you to hit a few milestones. Not only do you have to fly a specific number of segments or miles, but you must also hit a spending requirement on paid fares.
Here’s how each of those requirements breaks down:
- PQMs (Premier qualifying miles) are based on the number of paid flight miles you travel along with the fare you purchase.
- PQS (Premier qualifying segments) are based on the number of paid segments you fly each year.
- PQDs (Premier qualifying dollars) are determined by the base fare you pay along with any carrier-imposed surcharges.
You must fly a minimum of four paid flight segments on flights operated by United Airlines or United Express during a calendar year to be eligible for elite status with the airline. Note that Basic Economy fares do not count toward the four-segment minimum.
Shortcuts to United MileagePlus Premier status
Qualify for a PQD waiver with co-branded United Airlines credit card from Chase. While there are no United MileagePlus credit cards that offer automatic elite status, you can qualify for a PQD waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum status with $25,000 worth of spending within a calendar year on a United credit card, including the United Explorer Card, United MileagePlus Club Card and the United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card.
Why should you get this card?
With a generous sign-up bonus, the United Explorer Card makes it easy to earn a free flight quickly. If you fly United often, it is easy to make up for the card’s $95 annual fee.
|More things to know: |
Buy miles through Premier Accelerator. The United MileagePlus program offers a Premier Accelerator program that allows you to purchase Premier Qualifying miles (PQMs) for use toward elite status qualification. The price for these PQMs can be outrageously high, but the accelerator can be a good option if you’re close to elite status and only need a slight boost.
Join a Status Match challenge. The United MileagePlus program allows you to status-match your elite status from other airlines when you meet certain criteria. The initial status match is offered for 90 days, but you will need to meet a PQM and PQS requirement to keep your status for the remainder of the year.
Is United MileagePlus elite status worth it?
If you fly with United Airlines and its Star Alliance partners often enough, pooling your loyalty with United could pay off. Not only can you earn more miles with a specific airline to earn free travel faster, but you can also score important perks that can make travel more comfortable, convenient and carefree.
Here are some of the most important benefits you can look forward to if you earn elite status with United Airlines this year:
- Free checked bags – Depending on your elite status level, you can qualify for one to three free checked bags per flight. Since checked bags typically cost $25 or more for non-elites, this benefit can lead to considerable savings over time.
- Elite mileage bonus – You can earn more miles for free flights faster as you climb to higher levels of elite status with the United MileagePlus program.
- Priority check–in – Every level of elite status offers priority check-in at the airport. This benefit can help you avoid long waits so you can get to your gate faster.
- Elite status benefits with partners – Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and Premier 1k members receive travel benefits when flying with Star Alliance member airlines.
- Priority baggage handling – You can avoid waiting at the luggage carousel for an eternity with priority baggage handling.
- Access to airport lounges – Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and Premier 1K elite members receive automatic access to airport lounges when traveling internationally.
- Better award availability – United MileagePlus elite status qualifies you for better award availability in economy. Premier Platinum and Premier 1k members also receive better award availability in select premium cabins.
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (based on availability) – Having elite status with the United MileagePlus program helps you qualify for complimentary upgrades based on availability.
- Reduced or waived award fees – While United MileagePlus members may be required to pay fees for certain transactions, having elite status with the program can lead to waived or reduced fees in some cases. This benefit is applicable to close-in award booking fees, award redeposit fees and award change fees.
- Priority award waitlisting and standby for international awards – All four levels of United MileagePlus elite status offer both priority award waitlisting and free standby for award flights abroad.
The bottom line
Pursuing elite status with the United MileagePlus program can make sense if you fly frequently and feel you could take advantage of the benefits afforded to you. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of pooling loyalty with a single airline versus booking flights based on price alone. While pursuing elite status could mean missing out on sales with other airlines, the benefits of elite status could be well worth it over the long haul.
See Related: How much are United miles worth?, Best United Airlines credit cards, 12 ways to earn United miles, Best ways to redeem United miles, United Airlines partners, A guide to United Club lounges, How to book a United flight with miles, United MileagePlus Shopping guide