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TravelUnited Premier status: What it is and how to earn it

United Premier status: What it is and how to earn it


If you are a frequent flyer and spend many hours traveling each year, having elite status with your airline, such as United Airlines, can make a significant difference in your travel experience. Shorter lines, faster service, complimentary upgrades, international lounge access and other free benefits can easily make stressful trips more seamless.

However, these perks do not come without a cost. Airlines often require significant time, money or both to achieve that elusive elite status. With thresholds to reach status seemingly ever-increasing, it is important to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks of remaining loyal to one airline program.

This guide will evaluate United Premier status in the MileagePlus program and break down the different status tiers, how to earn them and if the perks that come with this status are worth the effort for United flyers.

Here is everything you need to know about United Airlines elite status.

What is United Premier status?

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

When you choose to fly United Airlines and add your MileagePlus number to your booking, in addition to being rewarded with miles, frequent United travelers may get rewarded with Premier status.

Depending on which United elite status tier you achieve, perks range from complimentary first-class upgrades on most domestic flights (depending on availability) to earning bonus miles that can be redeemed for future travel.

Related: Is United Polaris business class worth it to Singapore?

You can qualify for Premier status with United through a combination of Premier qualifying flights and Premier qualifying points. You can qualify for elite status based on the number of flights flown with the airline (Premier qualifying flights), how much you spend (which is based on the cost of the ticket, paid upgrades and seat purchases) and if you spend on a United cobranded credit card.

Your United Premier status is achieved when you reach the threshold for the required number of PQFs and PQPs or hit a certain number of PQPs. This status is then valid for the remainder of the calendar year and the entirety of the following year. It also extends to Jan. 31 of the following year.

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For instance, if you reach the status requirements in June 2024, you will hold the status through Jan. 31, 2026, giving you about a year and a half to benefit from the perks. So, earning elite status as quickly as possible in the calendar year makes sense so you can enjoy the benefits for as long as possible.

United Premier status tiers

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United offers four official elite status tiers outside its unpublished exclusive tier, Global Services, which can only be achieved by flying 4 million miles or via personal invitation.

Anyone can make a United MileagePlus account for free online, where you start as a “Member” and can take off on your elite status expedition.

United Airlines’ published elite status tiers from lowest to highest are:

  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K

As you fly more with United and its partners (or spend on a cobranded credit card), you can move up in the program to reach higher levels. As you climb the ranks, the perks become more lucrative, offering incredible benefits such as lounge access or saving money with free checked bags.

This is similar to the published elite status tiers of rival airline loyalty programs American Airlines AAdvantage and Delta Air Lines SkyMiles.

How to qualify for United Premier status

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

In recent years, many airlines have moved away from calculating elite status based on actual mileage flown, instead basing it on the amount spent. For United, this means elite status is calculated based on the number of PQPs earned (not to be confused with redeemable United MileagePlus miles).

Related: How to redeem miles with the United MileagePlus program

United Premier qualifying points, or PQPs, are earned based on the base fare of tickets, upgrades and more for the traveling member. Unfortunately, this does not include the taxes and fees that make up part of the total cost of the ticket. You can earn PQPs based on award redemptions, partner airline activity and cobranded credit card spending.

To qualify for United Premier status, you must reach varying thresholds of PQPs and PQFs (Premier qualifying flights or segments flown on United or partner airlines). Alternatively, United allows you to earn status by meeting a higher PQP goal without a PQF requirement.

Status tier PQPs and PQFs Only PQPs
Premier Silver 4,000 PQPs and 12 PQFs 5,000 PQPs
Premier Gold 8,000 PQPs and 24 PQFs 10,000 PQPs
Premier Platinum 12,000 PQPs and 36 PQFs 15,000 PQPs
Premier 1K 18,000 PQPs and 54 PQFs 24,000 PQPs

For example, if you earned 13,000 PQPs but only had 25 qualifying flights on United, you would reach United Premier Gold as you would not reach the PQF requirement to earn Premier Platinum through PQPs and PQFs.

It is also important to note that United has a four-segment requirement to achieve status, meaning that you must fly on at least four flights operated by United or United Express to earn status.

United Premier status benefits

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While the perks are great for all members with United Airlines elite status, as you climb the ladder, the perks and benefits continue to increase with your loyalty.

United Airlines Premier status perks include:

Premier Silver

This is the entry-level tier in United’s program, where you will receive benefits such as:

  • Earn 7 miles per dollar spent
  • Star Alliance Silver status
  • Priority check-in, security and Group 2 boarding
  • Preferred seating at booking (up to nine passengers)
  • Economy Plus seating at check-in (up to two travelers)
  • One free 70-pound checked bag
  • Priority phone support
  • First-class upgrades at the time of booking with Y or B fares
  • Complimentary first-class upgrades as early as the day of departure
  • Better award availability in economy

Premier Gold

As you level up with United, you receive all of the same perks as Silver, in addition to:

  • Earn 8 miles per dollar spent
  • Star Alliance Gold status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
  • Economy Plus seating at booking (up to two travelers)
  • Group 1 boarding
  • Two free 70-pound checked bags
  • Complimentary first-class upgrades as early as 48 hours before departure

Related: A review of United Airlines economy on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 from San Francisco to Kona

Premier Platinum

For even more-frequent United flyers, you receive all of the same perks as Premier Gold, in addition to:

  • Earn 9 miles per dollar spent
  • Waived telephone booking fees
  • Avis President’s Club status
  • Economy Plus seating at booking (up to nine travelers)
  • Complimentary first-class upgrades as early as 72 hours before departure
  • 40 PlusPoints
  • Better award availability in premium cabins

Premier 1K

This is the top tier in United’s program for its most frequent travelers, where you will receive all of the same perks as Premier Platinum, in addition to:

  • Earn 11 miles per dollar spent
  • Priority boarding, including preboarding the aircraft
  • Three free 70-pound checked bags
  • First-class upgrades at the time of booking with Y, B or M fares
  • Complimentary first-class upgrades as early as 96 hours before departure
  • An additional 280 PlusPoints
  • One free drink and one snack in economy

Can a credit card help earn United Premier status?

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

United has several personal and business credit cards, all offered by Chase, including:

Card Best for Welcome offer Earnings Annual fee
United Gateway Card Casual United flyers Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 7 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 3 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 1 mile earned with the credit card); 2 miles per dollar on all other United purchases, gas, local transit and commuting; 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $0
United Explorer Card Frequent United flyers Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 7 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 4 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles earned with the credit card), 2 miles per dollar on dining, 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $95, waived the first year
United Quest Card Frequent United flyers Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 PQPs after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 8 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 3 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 4 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles earned with the credit card), 2 miles per dollar on dining, 2 miles on select streaming; 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $250
United Club Infinite Card Frequent United flyers wanting United Club access Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 9 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 4 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 4 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles earned with the credit card), 2  miles per dollar on dining and all travel, 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $525
United Business Card Frequent United flyers with an eligible business Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 7 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 3 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 1 mile earned with the credit card); 2 miles per dollar on dining, gas, local transit, commuting and office supply stores; 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases $99
United Club Business Card Frequent United flyers wanting United Club access with an eligible business Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 1,000 PQPs after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open 7 miles per dollar on flights (5 miles on base fare from United as a MileagePlus member, plus 2 miles on entire purchase with credit card); 3.5 miles per dollar on United hotels booked directly (2 miles as a MileagePlus member, plus 1.5 miles earned with the credit card), 1.5 miles per dollar on all other purchases $450

The information for the United Club Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

In addition to the redeemable miles earned, potential club access and other perks of the United cobranded credit cards, you can also earn PQPs.

In 2023, United changed how you can earn PQPs from your credit cards. The cards used to offer 500 PQPs for every $12,000 in spending. However, they now offer 25 PQPs for every $500. This is not only a 20% increase in the speed at which PQPs are earned but it also means members can earn PQPs without spending the full $12,000.

Different cobranded credit cards have limits on the number of PQPs that can be earned:

Is United Premier status worth it?

KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

If you travel with United or its partner airlines regularly and/or spend significantly on a cobranded credit card, you may find it easy to earn Premier status, and it can be a savvy way to maximize your travel.

Elite status can certainly make travel more comfortable and convenient. For example, when your flight is delayed, and you want to be able to speak to an agent to get a resolution, having elite status can undoubtedly make the difference in a prompt response. Additionally, holding any United Premier status will help save time with priority boarding and expedited airport check-in lanes. Complimentary upgrades are always enjoyable, though they can sometimes be hard to come by on busy routes, especially between hubs.

Remember, if you are flying plenty and/or spending on a United credit card, you’ll also be earning plenty of United miles, which you can redeem for things like free flights, all while enjoying your elite status benefits.

It is also worth considering United’s route map. It’s not worth pursuing status when you can’t enjoy the benefits you’ve worked hard to earn. Be sure to consider United’s service from your home airport(s) and how easy it is to get to your desired destination. Living near a United hub such as Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) can certainly have a larger impact. If United and its partner airlines don’t fly where you want to travel, you won’t get much use from the status.

Finally, remember that Premier status does not provide domestic lounge access when traveling with United. If this benefit is important, consider the United Club Infinite Card instead, which provides United Club access and elitelike perks such as two free checked bags and Premier Access travel services.

Related: Is United Airlines premium economy worth it to Europe?

Bottom line

Earning elite status, especially a top-tier status like Premier 1K, is no easy feat and requires countless hours on planes and thousands of dollars spent. Understanding the cost and perks of United’s elite status is important to determine if it is right for you.

Premier perks can make the travel experience less stressful and even more enjoyable. Every traveler has their own set of benefits that make it worthwhile to pursue elite status based on budget constraints, home airport(s), destinations and other individual factors.

If you strive for United Airlines elite status, just ensure you will use the benefits you’ve earned.



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