United Elite Status Harder to Earn for 2016

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United has a sense of humor I think because they copy many of Delta’s negative frequent flyer related changes exactly.  It is such an exact copy that it is almost funny.  When Delta announced they were increasing their revenue component to earning elite status a little while back for 2016 elite status I said somewhere that “at least we now know what United will do”.  There was a little sarcastic humor in my comment, but really it was the truth.

United has now released their elite qualifications for 2016 and (surprise) it exactly mirrors Delta’s elite qualifying dollars component.  The only real difference is that Delta still allows travelers to earn their top tier status without the revenue component as long as they have $25,000 in annual spending on their co-branded card, and United does not extend the waiver for those going for top-tier 1K status.

United Premier Requirements 2015

Here are the 2016 United Premier Status Requirements:

Silver Status: 25,000 premier qualifying miles and going from $2,500 premier qualifying dollars to $3,000 premier qualifying dollars

Gold Status: 50,000 premier qualifying miles and going from $5,000 premier qualifying dollars to $6,000 premier qualifying dollars

Platinum Status: 75,000 premier qualifying miles and going from $7,500 premier qualifying dollars to $9,000 premier qualifying dollars

1K Status: 100,000 premier qualifying miles and going from $10,000 premier qualifying dollars to $12,000 premier qualifying dollars

In 2015, the Premier Qualifying Dollars requirement is waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold and Premier Platinum qualification if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases during that calendar year on MileagePlus co-branded credit cards issued by Chase Bank USA,
  • You hold a United MileagePlus Presidential PlusSM Card (that is no longer available to new customers)
  • The PQD waiver does not apply for Premier 1K qualification.
  • You have an address outside of the United States
  • If you use a military or diplomatic address (APO, DPO or FPO), you are exempt from the PQD requirement for all Premier levels, including Premier 1K.

To be eligible to qualify for any Premier level, you must fly a minimum of four paid flight segments on flights operated by United, United Express and/or Copa Airlines during a calendar year unless you hold a MileagePlus Presidential Plus Card or a United MileagePlus Club Card.

This means your average paid flight will have to average a cost of 12 cents per mile in order for you to hit the Premier Qualifying Dollars component of United elite status.  That is up from 10 cents per mile this year, and up from no revenue component the year before that.  This won’t likely impact most who earn status primarily on business travel, but it will further chip away at those who earn status by a combination of lower cost leisure travel and business travel.

If you can put $25,000 annually on a United co-branded credit card you will be safe from the revenue component of elite status through the Platinum level, but if you want 1K you better be flying on higher fares or have an address outside the US!

Will this impact your plans for United elite status in 2016?

Thanks to Wandering Aramean for sharing this update. 

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  1. I’m perfectly happy with Platinum so I just plan to fulfill the $25K spend requirement on my UA explorer credit card.
    Most of my travel is abroad and I’ll admit I love star alliance the most out of the 3 alliances. Whenever I travel to star alliance hubs internationally, I’d say 95% of the time none of the agents knew what a 1K was; but almost all of them knew that Platinum is a high tier

  2. For folks who travel infrequently on business, this increase only makes it harder to achieve any elite status. Perhaps that is the goal of UAL and Delta, but for me, it only sends me more in the direction of AA/USAir. One question: I noticed this year that even if I paid for all of my family’s tix on my UAL credit card, I was only credited with spending the cost of my own tix. In other words, there were 2 times when I spent more than $2500 in total for us to travel on UAL, but I was not credited for my family members’ travel. I assume this is to ensure that each family member meets the spend requirements. But why? Why not be more family friendly and at least enable the family member who is paying the cost attain the spend limit required? After all, that family member is indeed hitting the spend requirement…

    • Just like with elite miles earned, the elite dollars earned only count toward the person who flew the ticket, not who paid for the ticket.

  3. I flew United overseas recently (last week). Booked the ticket on Expedia. Guess how many PQD United credited me for that: Zero! I could fly 500,000 miles in one year on United, buying tickets from outside websites like these, and not even qualify for silver. No biggie. I’ve given up on United. I used to be loyal to them, but they’ve quickly deteriorated into a crap airline. I only fly them if I have no alternative.

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