United Offering Buy-Up to Next Elite Level for Some

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

This morning I got an email from United Airlines offering to sell me the 6,000 elite qualifying miles it thinks I need to get from Premier Gold to Premier Platinum for the rest of 2013 based on my 2012 elite qualifying miles total.  The email directs me to go to united.com/2013status by the end of February if I want to purchase any 2012 elite qualifying miles (you can go there to see if you are eligible).  I actually am oh-so-close to finally getting some pesky 2012 elite qualifying miles retroactively posted, so I did earn Platinum status already based on my travels last year, but the computer doesn’t know that quite yet.

I think it is great to offer the ability for folks to purchase a few miles to get them up to the next status level after the fact.  Of course, it is better to plan accordingly and not hope for a second chance at the 13th hour, but it is still a nice thing for United to offer.  They make money, and the customer isn’t stuck a few miles short of the next elite level.  According to the email I received, this is a targeted offer and the maximum number of miles you can purchase is 15,000.

However, this convenience doesn’t come without a fat price tag.  The price varied some depending on the number of miles you needed to purchase, but it was anywhere from about 17 cents to 34 cents per elite qualifying mile!  That is a ton, and goes even higher than what United was selling elite qualifying miles for at the end of 2012.  If you want to buy some now for your 2013 totals, the price is much lower in the 10-12 cents per mile range for many….but of course 2013 miles won’t help you with your 2012 totals.

I fortunately don’t actually need to purchase any miles to get to Platinum, but if I were just a tad short I would absolutely buy-up.  Did you get this email?  Are you going to be taking advantage of their offer?


Here are some terms and conditions related to this offer:

Purchase terms and conditions: 1. Only select members are eligible to participate in this offer. 2. All PQM or PQS purchased under this offer are non-refundable. 3. Offer valid for purchase through February 28, 2013. 4. Must be a MileagePlus member to participate in this offer. 5. Offer allows purchase of a maximum of 15,000 PQM or 15 PQS toward 2012 PQM or PQS balance for 2013 Premier status. MileagePlus members may purchase a maximum of 15,000 PQM in increments of 1,000 PQM or a maximum of 15 PQS in single PQS increments. Purchased PQM or PQS will be posted to the 2012 PQM or PQS balance in the account of the member listed on the purchase page. 6. PQM or PQS purchased through this offer only count toward 2013 Premier status and do not count toward award redemption. 7. Offer cannot be applied to 2013 PQM or PQS balance or 2014 status. 8. All PQM or PQS are sold in U.S dollars through this offer. 9. Premier status is not transferable. 10. Other restrictions apply. 11. Offer and fees subject to change without notice. 12. PQM or PQS purchased through this offer will be posted to the account of the member listed on the purchase page within 5-7 business days of purchase.


The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Can elite status be attained from credit card points?

    I have about 140k on my chase card waiting to transfer to united for flight.

  2. I got the same e-mail. I was 6 segments away from Silver. The price for those 6 segments: $949. While I’m glad they offer this the price is kind of a slap in the face. I could have easily gotten a 6 flight MR for well under $500. If they are going to sell status they should at least make it reasonable, especially when Silver does not provide that many benefits.

  3. I got the email. I only flew UA on two short hops this past year for work (JAC-IAH-OKC)(I’m AA Plat) and earned UA Miles on Singapore 380 JFK-FRA-JFK in Business, so it would cost me $1,500+ just for Silver. Silly

    I did use miles to go DCA-ORD-AMS in First with Hubby in April to see the Tulips and then DCA-EWR-IAH-SFO-IAH-EWR-DCA in Dec on my Nation-Wide 787 DreamLiner Tour 🙂

  4. I got the email, but I need 14,000 miles to hit even the lowest level. It’s $2149 for me, so it’s a no go! Didn’t fly much United this year, but Silver isn’t worth that much when you live at a big hub like SFO (no upgrades to be had because everyone has status). So, I’ll hang onto my United credit card and get essentially the same benefits this year for the small annual fee.

  5. Mikey, the short answer for United is no. There are cards you can’t get any more than can earn some PQMs.
    Bill and Leslie, I wouldn’t pay anywhere near that amount to get to silver either!

  6. I’m new at this, and I’m not saying this is worth the $$, but can you please answer a few questions for me?

    Like Bill n DC, I can upgrade only to Silver. Cost approx $1400.

    So, here are my questions. Remember that I do not have status with any airline, and probably will not earn it this year. But, I will be flying this year both domestically and internationally.

    Is there any credit card that will give me more than one mile/point per dollar for the purchase? In other words, is there a strategy to using a certain credit card? At least it helps soften the blow 🙂

    Would it be worth getting silver status to use for a “status match” on another airline? The thinking being that it is so early in the year, that this might be useful to have. If so, what airlines would be likely candidates?

    These may be simple/silly questions, but I’m trying to learn. Thank you.

    • I would not pay much at all to upgrade to silver. The Club Card is indeed a better value than paying much to get UA Silver.

  7. My Partner got the “buy up” offer to Silver for about $500. However, I told him it might just be better to get the United Club Card for $395 (club membership alone is about $500) since it would give him effectively the same benefits of Silver (e.g., early Boarding, Premier Security and 2 checked bags). I have the Club Card and make good use of it (from checked bags alone since I travel with my elderly parents) since I travel “enough” but not enough to make Status.

  8. My husband was ONE segment short for Gold based on two late December flights that were changed last minute to US Airways flights. The offer at the end of the year was only for purchasing MILES, not segments, so he did a quick mileage run. Given that it was Christmas week, prices were outrageous so he paid $450. In this email he could have bought the single SEGMENT and saved $100. If only we knew.

  9. @Lynn — just checking: you do know that you can earn United EQM and EQS on US airways flights, right? So unless the rebooked flights had fewer segments than the originals, your husband should have still been able to get Gold without the MR as long as he put his UA MP# in. And if the rebooking was involuntary (e.g., flight cancellation or weather), he can request “original routing credit” — miles and segments for the original unflown itinerary — as long as he actually flew somewhere.

    Water under the bridge, but it’s good to be informed (my apologies if you already knew this and I got the situation wrong)

  10. Wow – this sure makes mileage runs look cheap. 1 Transcon @ $500 RT = 5000 miles, 2 transcons = 10000 miles. Really wish they would let me buy up to GS status, but at these prics it would probably be more economical just to buy the tickets.

  11. Interesting. You’d have to want status pretty badly to pay those prices. Silver isn’t worth it. A few bucks for gold probably is. After that it’s a hard call..

    That email is an example of why planning is good. Like mommypoints and her early-season mileage runs. Lots of good, cheap, flights early in the year!

  12. Got the offer. Needed 9k PQM to get to Gold at a cost of $1549. I’ve pretty much abandoned UA by this point anyway and this doesn’t do anything to make me want to stay.

    This offer probably only gets the desperate ones to fork over this kind of money. Glad I’m not captive to UA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *