How To Get Elite Status and Upgrades With United MileagePlus

How To Get Elite Status and Upgrades With United MileagePlus

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Do you fly frequently on United Airlines? If so, you may be able to qualify for Elite status with the airline.
Doing so offers rewards such as upgrades and premium seating. In order to do so, you’ll have to earn at least 25,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) or 30 Premier Qualifying Segments (PQS). Let’s take a look at how you can achieve Elite Status and what it could mean for you.

How to Earn PQM and PQS

Generally, PQM and PQS are earned by flying on United Airlines flights and/or those of other Star Alliance airlines. If you are flying on another Star Alliance airline, check with United Airlines prior to booking your flight, as some offer only partial PQM/PQS and others do not earn any at all.
When determining how many PQS you will earn (on flights in which they are offered), a segment is a portion of the total trip. If you have 2 flights on your trip, you’ll earn 2 segments. So, if you fly from Miami to Minneapolis with a stop in Chicago, you’ll earn 2 PQS. If you fly the same route back, you’ll earn a total of 4 PQS.
When determining how many PQM you’ll earn, it depends on whether you are taking a United Airlines flight or 1 with another Star Alliance airline. Also, more PQM and PQS can be earned with credit cards, which will be explored below.

Best Credit Cards To Use

For purposes of earning PQM/PQS, there are 2 credit cards out there that are good to have. One is for businesses and the other is for individuals. Both are offered by Chase.

MileagePlus Explorer Card

The Mileage Plus Explorer card comes with no annual fee in the first year and $95 thereafter. It’s other fees are similar to most other credit cards. With this card, customers will earn 25,000 bonus miles after the first purchases. Then, if another account holder is added within the first 2 months, another 5,000 bonus miles will be given. Another 10,000 bonus miles are offered after $25,000 is spent each year. So, customers could earn up to 40,000 bonus miles in the first year with this card.
Other than the higher bonus miles, the rewards with this card are virtually the same as those on the business version. If you are an individual who prefers to fly on United Airlines or related airlines, then this is a good card to have if you are in the market for a new credit card – or just want to earn a bunch of rewards.

MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

The MileagePlus Explorer Business card offers 50,000 bonus points after your spend $3,000 in the first three months. Additionally, after $25,000 is spent each year, 10,000 bonus miles are given. There is no annual fee with this card in the first year and it is $95 thereafter. The remaining fees are typical of other credit cards out there.
This card also offers 2 miles per dollar spent on United and Continental Airlines tickets. It also offers double miles on purchases of office supplies, gasoline and dining. Customers and a companion may check 1 bag at no charge on each flight when using this card. There are plenty of other benefits, so this is a great card to have if you are a frequent flyer on United Airlines.

What Your PQM/PQS Will Get You

Once you’ve earned 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS, you will qualify for Elite status. Below are the thresholds that you must hit to achieve each level of Elite status. Note that these will be the names of the statuses starting in 2012:

  • Premier Silver – 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS
  • Premier Gold – 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS
  • Premier Platinum – 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS
  • Premier 1K – 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS

Basically, if you fly at least 25,000 miles on United Airlines or fly 15 round-trips (less if you have connecting flights), then you’ll qualify for Elite status.
All status levels will give you access to dedicated call center lines and the following:

  • Ability to book Economy Plus tickets at no extra charge for you and a companion
  • Unlimited domestic upgrades (chances of being cleared improve at each gain in status)
  • Red Carpet Club access (an airport lounge with television, wi-fi, etc. – costs $375 to $700 per year depending on your status and if you have a guest)
  • Minimum of 500 miles earned per UA or UX flight
  • Ability to redeem miles for vehicle rentals, merchandise and hotel stays

Additionally, you’ll get more benefits as you rise in status.
For example, while having Premier Silver status will allow you to have 1 bag of up to 50 pounds checked without a fee, every other level allows for 3 bags of up to 70 pounds each.
The higher levels also offer discounts on in-flight shopping of 10 percent (Platinum and 1K). In general, you’ll receive all of the mentioned rewards for achieving Elite status and will gain more as you reach each level.

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