Why You Might Want to Use the United Card More ASAP!

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In recent history my family has enjoyed the perks of me having United MileagePlus elite status, alternating between one of the top two elite tiers for the past several years.  I know that not everyone that reads this site has or needs airline elite status, but if you travel as much as I have over the past few years it really does make a difference in the ease and quality of air travel.  My favorite perks aren’t actually the first class upgrades, but instead I get more value from the various fees I get to avoid such as economy plus seating, award redeposits, and same day flight change fees…but the occasional upgrades are nice, too.

Anyway, a little over a year ago United introduced a new spending requirement for those who lives in the United States in order to obtain and retain elite status.  No longer was it enough to fly a certain number of eligible miles each year, but you also had to spend a certain amount of cash with the airline annually.  For some, especially business travelers flying on someone else’s dime, this is probably a non-issue, but for those of us who fly mostly on leisure fares for the lowest price possible it is very possible to fly enough miles to earn a particular elite status level without spending enough to earn it.

As a refresher, here are the requirements for the four published elite status levels with United:

United Premier Silver: 25,000 elite qualifying miles flown + $3,000 elite qualifying dollars spent

United Premier Gold: 50,000 elite qualifying miles flown miles + $6,000 elite qualifying dollars spent

United Premier Platinum: 75,000 elite qualifying miles flown miles + $9,000 elite qualifying dollars spent

United Premier 1K: 100,000 elite qualifying miles flown miles + $12,000 elite qualifying dollars spent

United Premier Qualifying Dollars

However, there are a couple of ways to avoid having to spend the minimum amount of eligible dollars annually to earn elite status on United.  First, those who utilize military or diplomatic addresses (ADO, DPO, or FPO) are exempt from the spending requirement at all Premier levels.

If you have the United MileagePlus Presidential Plus Card (no longer available) you are also exempt from the spending requirements at all levels except 1K – man I wish I had gotten that card!

Use Your United Credit Card to Help Earn Elite Status:

For the rest of us, you can be exempt from the Premier Qualifying Dollars spending requirement for all levels except 1K if you spend $25,000 annually on a MileagePlus co-branded card such as the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card issued by Chase Bank.  I recently realized that even if I hit the number of miles flown for the various elite levels this year (which is very much in question thanks to my “maternity leave”) that I still would probably come up short of earning the status thanks to the amount of money spent on those tickets, especially since the average ticket price is down for me this year as opposed to last.  Yay fuel prices and increased competition out of Houston!

United Credit CArd

This meant that I needed to get serious about spending $25,000 on my United co-branded credit card by the end of the year in order to get a waiver from the Premier Qualifying Dollars requirement through the Platinum elite level (I have no shot at 1K anyway).  I had received an email about a month ago showing how much I had spent on the card from the beginning of the year through mid-September.  That puts me within striking distance of spending $25,000 if I just move this card back into regular rotation, especially with some large chargeable expenses coming up.

This is a situation where it can make sense to use your United card for expenses even when there might be an additional processing fee to do so such as for tuition, daycare, utility bills, rent, etc.  If spending some extra on processing fees makes the difference between earning one elite status level and the next thanks to earning the Premier Qualifying Dollars waiver it can be worth the added expense (assuming you will get value out of the perks of the next elite status level).  With some versions of the co-branded card you also earn 10,000 additional miles if you spend $25,000 on the card annually, so it makes sense to pay attention to your spending even if you don’t care about the Premier Qualifying Dollars waiver.

How to Track Your Progress Towards Earning PQD Waiver:

United StatementsThanks to those who pointed out in the comments that there is a very simple way to quickly see your progress towards the PQD waiver based on spending on your co-branded card by going to this site that tracks your progress towards elite status, including annual spending on your co-branded card!

Is anyone else counting on their spending on the co-branded credit card in order to obtain or maintain their United elite status this year?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments 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.

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.


      • No, Trent is correct and that is why the rationale give for this post should be a SECONDARY consideration for putting $25,000 on the card PER CALENDAR YEAR.

        It is an additional 10,000 MILES if you put $25,000 on the card = 35,000 MILES (+) per year at a minimum per year.

  1. A quick call to Chase (several times during the year) put me in touch with a CSR who very kindly told me what my cumulative spend was at that moment. Of course, if there’s any chance you might return one of your purchases, remember to go a bit over $25K.

  2. United website tracks Chase spend for you. Go to your account information and there is a link to view your progress. When you click on it it will show you progress towards the different tiers. Switch to a tier other than 1K, and in the PDQ section there is a button to switch to Chase spend that shows the total amount spent on the Chase card so far.

  3. You can see how much you’ve spent on the card (and other status-related information) by going to mystatus.united.com. It’s a pretty cool site.

  4. Well there are many reasons to potentially use the card more depending on your situation including…built in travel and protection benefits, using the free checked bag perk, progress toward 10k mileage bonus if applicable, and the PQD waiver this post was primarily about. None are brand new, but all warrant reminders from time to time in my opinion…especially the PQD this time of the year as we inch toward the cut-off for elite status for 2016.

    The 10k miles bonus is also a good one to remind folks about, so I added that to the post as well, but it doesn’t apply to all versions of the card.

    • Not sure what versions of the present card you are referring to, but here is another one that is quite helpful — Primary car rental insurance so that you can dispose of purchasing the CDW for the rental vehicle.

  5. Each Chase Explorer card statement tells you your YTD points earned for United — you only need to look at the most recent statement.

    Didn’t know about mystatus.united.com though — that’s cool too.

    • YTD miles earned are not necessarily indicative of YTD dollars spent, which is the important number when needing to obtain the PQD waiver of 10,000 bonus miative of YTD dles. The YTD miles earned will include bonus points from United purchases and/or other promotional bonuses. It would be unfortunate to miss these benefits by mistaking the YTD miles earned for $25,000 spend.

  6. Is it possible to get top tier status from purely spending on the card?
    I dont pay for flights, so I dont get miles from United lol.

  7. Dear Mommypoints – Love the blog. Here’s another tale to add to “victims” of cheap travel: : my 14 year old daughter has thousands of miles over the threshold for silver, but well below 3K spend, w/ no more flights planned this calendar year. Live in US, not diplomatic, and clearly, ineligible for her own CC! Argh, if only I’d credited her mileage to a Star Alliance partner!

    • Kevin, ugh – that one really is a bummer. I’m so sorry on that one. Truthfully, I’d write United. Not that I expect they would do anything, but I would explain the situation and your disappointment. I think it would be entirely reasonable to somehow waive the spend requirement for minors, especially if their parents qualify based on having the credit card or similar since that option isn’t available to kids.

  8. Havre thay announced if the waiver will work in 2016? IIRC it was announced as a tenporary thing. needto know if i should keep my card

    • I haven’t seen an announcement yet. I’ll be surprised if it goes away entirely, but I’ve been surprised before.

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