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The beginning of 2023 brought big changes to the United MileagePlus program. Now, you need to spend more and/or fly more to earn elite status. We dove into all of the new details in this post. However, it wasn't all bad news. As part of the United MileagePlus program tweaks, United increased how many Premier Qualifying Points you can earn through credit card spending.
Let's look at the latest details of how you can earn Premier Qualifying Points through credit card spending.
What Are United Premier Qualifying Points (PQP)?
There are two types of rewards you can earn through the United MileagePlus program: MileagePlus miles and Premier Qualifying Points.
MileagePlus miles are earned by signing up for cards and putting basic spending on them or by flying on United or partner airlines. Learn more about how to earn United miles here. These miles can be redeemed for flights and upgrades.
Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) solely count toward achieving United Premier elite status. In addition to flying, PQPs can be earned by hitting spending thresholds on United credit cards.
You can earn elite status through a combination of PQP and PQF, or by earning a higher amount of solely PQP. The requirements are as follows:
When flying United, you'll earn one PQP for every eligible dollar spent on airfare (including carrier-imposed surcharges but excluding taxes and fees).
On United's partners, calculating your PQP is as follows: earn 1 PQP for every 5 MileagePlus miles gained when flying with preferred partners, and 1 PQP for every 6 MileagePlus miles gained from partner airlines. United caps how many PQPs you can earn on each partner flight as follows:
Earning United Premier Qualifying Points Through Credit Cards
If you hold a United co-branded credit card that charges an annual fee, then you can earn some amount of PQP from spending on that card. Regardless of the card, you'll earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points per $12,000 spent on the card. The only difference between the cards is the cap on how many PQPs you can earn each year.
Remember that you must also fly four segments with United or United Express to earn United elite status. So, you can't earn elite status without flying.
Here are your card options and how much they earn:
Cards Allowing up to 1,000 Premier Qualifying Points
- United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee: $95 ($0 intro for the first year)): Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Benefits of this card include two United Club passes per year, first checked bag free for you and traveling companions, and a $100 statement credit for either Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee.
- United℠ Explorer Business Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and on United purchases. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. The benefits of this card include an annual membership to United Club (worth $650), two free checked bags for you and a companion, and more.
- United℠ Business Card (annual fee: $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99): Earn a 50,000-mile sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. The benefits of this card include two United Club passes per year, first checked bag free for you and a companion, an extra 5,000 points when you hold this card and a personal card, and more.
Other cards no longer available to new cardholders include:
- United MileagePlus® Awards Card
- United MileagePlus® Card with annual fee
- United MileagePlus® Business Card
Cards Allowing up to 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points
Just one card lets you earn 500 Premier Qualifying Points for every $12,000 spent up to a maximum of 3,000 PQP in a calendar year:
- United MileagePlus® Select Card — not available to new cardholders
Cards Allowing up to 6,000 Premier Qualifying Points
One United credit card earns 500 PQP for every $12,000 spent up to a maximum of 6,000 PQP in a calendar year:
- United Quest℠ Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. The benefits of this card include first and second checked bags free for you and traveling companions; $125 in statement credits for United purchases; statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS; and more.
Cards Allowing up to 8,000 Premier Qualifying Points
This card earns 500 PQP for every $12,000 spent up to a maximum of 8,000 PQP in a calendar year:
- United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee: $525). Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. The benefits of this card include a United Club membership (worth $650); first and second checked bags free for you and traveling companions; statement credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS; and more. Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Cards Allowing up to 10,000 Premier Qualifying Points
Two premium United credit card cards let cardholders earn a maximum of 10,000 Premier Qualifying Points in a calendar year. Unfortunately, neither card is open to new cardholders:
- United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card
- UnitedSM Presidential PlusSM Business Card
Per MileagePlus account, you can earn a maximum of 15,000 PQP per calendar year. This could potentially be earned by having multiple United cards and maxing out the allowed PQP earnings for each card. However, the spending is very high for that to happen.
It's worth noting that the United Presidential Plus Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card are excluded from this cap. So, presumably you can earn 10,000 Premier Qualifying Points from spending on one of these cards plus up to 15,000 additional PQPs through other United cards.
Premier 1K is the highest level of elite status with United. To reach Premier 1K you must meet the 54 PQF requirement. You cannot reach Premier 1K through credit card spending alone.
That differs from the lower levels of United elite status (Silver, Gold, and Platinum). You can earn these tiers through PQP — including potentially just through card spending — or a combination of PQP and PQF.
On the other hand, you can reach Premier 1K through spending alone if you are a United Presidential Plus Card and United Presidential Plus Business Card cardholder. In this case, you do not have to meet the PQF requirement.
As you can see, achieving status with United requires a large amount of spending — either on flights, on United co-branded credit cards, or a combination of both.
Earning United status through card spending alone isn't easy, but it's not impossible. Thankfully, you can make use of multiple card options to help make it happen. If you're a frequent United flyer, then the spending may be worth it.
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