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United Airlines elite status benefits

Summary

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 SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
How to qualify

12 PQFs and 4,000 PQPs

or

5,000 PQPs

How to qualify

24 PQFs and 8,000 PQPs

or

10,000 PQPs

How to qualify

36 PQFs and 12,000 PQPs

or

15,000 PQPs

How to qualify

54 PQFs and 18,000 PQPs

or

24,000 PQPs

Base-point rate

7 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

8 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

9 miles/dollar

Base-point rate

11 miles/dollar

Benefits

  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus
  • 1 Economy Plus companion
  • Complimentary Premier upgrades
  • Instant upgrades on Y- or B-class full-fare economy tickets
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority security screening
  • Priority boarding
  • Premier Priority Desk phone line
  • Access to most sold-out flights
  • 1-3 complimentary checked bags depending on class of ticket (70 lbs.)
  • Priority award waitlisting
  • Standby for international award flights
  • Reduced close-in booking fee
  • Discounted CLEAR membership for streamlined security
  • No blackout dates for award flights on United and United Express
  • Better award availability in economy
  • Five Star status with Hertz
  • United Cruises onboard amenities
  • TPC Network golf course benefits
  • Mercedes Benz incentives
Benefits

Same benefits as Premier Silver members, plus:

  • Group 1 priority boarding
  • 2 complimentary checked bags on United economy tickets (70 lbs. each)
  • Waived same-day flight changes
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
  • Reduced change and cancellation fees
Benefits

Same benefits as Premier Gold members, plus:

  • 8 Economy Plus companions
  • 3 complimentary checked bag on United economy tickets (70 lbs. each)
  • Discounted United Club membership
  • Waived phone service charge
  • Waived change and cancellation fees 61+ days from departure
  • Reduced change and cancellation fees less than 61 days from departure
  • Waived close-in booking fee
  • President’s Circle status with Hertz
  • 2 regional Premier upgrades each year
Benefits

Premier Platinum members, plus:

  • Pre-boarding privileges
  • $100 discount on United Club membership
  • Free CLEAR membership
  • Instant upgrades on M-class economy tickets
  • Global Premier Upgrades eligibility
  • Waived fee for flight changes and cancellations less than 60 days from departure
  • 1 free drink and snack in economy

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. You have to collect the right combinations of flights and points.

Here’s how each of those requirements breaks down:

  • PQFs (Premier qualifying flights) are based on the number of flights (defined as a takeoff and landing) that you fly each year.
  • PQPs (Premier qualifying points) are elite qualifying points (not the same as airline miles) that you accumulate based on the base fare of your ticket, carrier-imposed surcharges, as well as fees for seat purchases and upgrades.

You must collect at least 5,000 points each year – or accumulate a combination of 12 flights and 4,000 points – to qualify for elite status. Note that most fares are eligible for PQFs, except for basic economy fares.

Shortcuts to United MileagePlus Premier status

Earn PQPs on your spending with co-branded United Airlines credit card from Chase. While there are no United MileagePlus credit cards that offer automatic elite status, you can earn PQPs on your spending with the United℠ Explorer Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card. Cardholders earn 500 PQPs for every $12,000 they spend, with a maximum of 1,000 PQPs per calendar year. That will get you at least a fifth of the way toward elite status.

United℠ Explorer Card

United Explorer 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 (waived first year).

More things to know:

  • 2 miles per dollar on hotels, restaurants and directly purchased United tickets and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2 one-time passes to the United Club lounge
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck every 4 years
  • Free checked bag

 

Join a Status Match challenge. The United MileagePlus program often 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 PQF and PQP 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 checkin – 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.
  • 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.
  • Discounted or complimentary CLEAR membership – Thanks to a partnership between United and CLEAR, all MileagePlus members can enjoy discounted membership with the program, which allows passengers to bypass the normal security line for a much more streamlined process. If you reach Premier 1K status, CLEAR membership is complimentary.

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

 

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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