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Here’s how you can earn United Elite status starting in 2020
Spend a ton of money on flights, but don’t actually fly often? United just made you their most important and valuable customer. Late last night, United released the following video on their website along with some substantial news pertaining to 2020 United MileagePlus Elite Status requirements. Namely…going forward, there will not only be an emphasis on spend, but you’ll conceivably be able to earn every single elite status without flying much at all. How? Just spend a lot.
How much? If you spend $24k on United, or its partners, you will be 1k without having to schlep around on 54 flights.
Here’s the 2020 United Mileage Plus Elite Status Requirements going forward
The right hand column tells you how much money you need to spend with United in order to avoid having to hit a certain minimum segment requirement, or PQFs. This is the first time an airline has waived minimum flying requirements in lieu of spending.
What the heck are PQFs and PQPs?
Seriously, in an apparent attempt to make things easier, they invented new terms that are as ambiguous as the old ones.
- PQF – otherwise known as a segment
- This is every flight, take and landing that you take.
- PQP – otherwise known as dollars spent
- This is only the base fare exclusive of taxes and fees
- Base fare + Surcharge
- Economy Plus seating or subscriptions
- Preferred seat purchases
- Mileage Plus Upgrade Award Co-pays
- Paid upgrades
- Flights ticketed and operated by Star Alliance Partners
How are PQFs and PQPs calculated? I.E. How are United flights and dollars earned on partners?
We have another chart that explains how PQPs are earned. Pretty straight forward and you can calculate how many miles you’d earn by going here: This way of earning PQP is only on tickets that don’t start with 016. If you purchased a Lufthansa flight via United, and it’s ticketed by United, you’d earn based off the fare you paid because would start 016. However, if you purchased that same flight via Expedia or Lufthansa and it didn’t start with 016 you’d earn based on the following:
Preferred vs Mileage Plus?
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- All Nippon Airways
- Austrian Airlines
- Azul Brazilian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- SWISS International Airlines
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Dolomiti
- Air India
- Asiana Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- Juneyao Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Thai Airways International
- Turkish Airlines
For instance if you were on a non discount Lufthansa business class between LAX and FRA you’d earn the following
- Roundtrip miles flown – 11612
- Bonus at 200% – 23224
- Total miles earned = 34836
- Preferred partner / 5 = 6967.2 PQP
You’ll earn a PQF, or up your flight count on partner segments, excluding light fares, basic fares, and award tickets
Credit benefits have been gutted
The biggest and most important – Spend waiver for certain Chase United cards. Gone
Starting on January 1, 2020, United Cardmembers who are eligible for a PQD waiver, PQM, or Flexible PQM (FPQM)2 based on annual card spend will be offered ways to earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) based on annual card spend3. The ability to earn a PQD waiver, PQM, or FPQM on these cards will end on December 31, 2019.
Segment minimum waiver…gone
We’ll no longer waive the 4-segment minimum for members with eligible MileagePlus Chase Cards. Each member must take a minimum of 4 flights on United or United Express to be eligible for Premier status. Removing these waivers aligns qualification requirements for all of our members.
Various cards will earn 500 PQP for every $12k they spend on that card.
The UnitedSM Explorer Card, United ClubSM Card, UnitedSM Explorer Business Card, United ClubSM Business Card, United MileagePlus® Awards Card, United MileagePlus® Card, and United MileagePlus® Business Card earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 1,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to Platinum.
The United MileagePlus® Select Card and United MileagePlus® Platinum Class Visa Card earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 3,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to 1K.
The UnitedSM Presidential PlusSM Card and UnitedSM Presidential PlusSM Business Card earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 in card spend, up to 10,000 PQP in a calendar year, that can be applied up to 1K.
What does this mean?
It means a couple of things to me. Elite status is devalued because a lot of corporate travelers are going to absolutely blow these numbers out of the water, so upgrades will be harder to land. If you’re a traveler who flies to the banker’s route between NYC and Lon quite a bit, and not on BA, this could be great for you – you’ll hit status super fast. I know a of entertainment vips that fly between NY and LA a couple of times a month, in business. Suddenly, you’re 1k in no time and didn’t have to hit mileage requirements, and certainly not these segment requirements. You hit it on lie flat, transcon comfort.
For the rest of us? The best bet is going to be traveling a bunch on discount business class internationally, with a combination of short domestic flights.
If it’s at all possible, switch to another airline like I did with Alaska. I still earn tons of miles for every mile flown, and on top of that, redemptions aren’t based on revenue, but rather a fixed award chart.
Affiliate link via Card Ratings
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based.
60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months
Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners
Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.
- 3x on dining
- including eligible delivery services for takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases
- (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
- $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
- The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
- 10% Anniversary Bonus
- Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
- Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
- Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
- No foreign transaction fees
- Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
- Primary rental car coverage is my favorite
We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.
Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.
Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.
Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on.