This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

When American Airlines first shared its 2016 AAdvantage program, the carrier also announced an increase in Elite-Qualifying Mile (EQM) earning rates. With the change, American Airlines jumped to the forefront in incentivizing premium-cabin flyers by making it even easier to earn elite status.

What 2016 elite earning rates looked to be...
2016 elite earning rates — before United’s announcement today.

Well, today, United Airlines announced changes to its MileagePlus Program for 2016, matching American Airlines’ elite-qualifying rates exactly. Note, however, that while AA does not have a revenue requirement for elite status, United’s is still in place and remains unchanged from 2015.

United changes
United’s new earning chart for 2016.

Full-fare first and business-class flights will now earn 3 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) per mile flown, and discounted first and business-class fares will earn 2 PQMs per mile flown.

This earning rate increase shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Business and first class customers — particularly those purchasing full-fare tickets — are most valuable to an airline. Naturally, they’re also the customers who may benefit least from elite status, since many of those same perks come along with premium-cabin tickets.

United announced this change to 2016 PQM rates in an email this afternoon.
United announced this change to 2016 PQM rates in an email this afternoon.

Where United is differing from American Airlines is that it’s also increasing PQM earning rates for certain Star Alliance partners. In 2016, American Airlines is equalizing partner earning rates at 0.5 EQM per mile in economy and only 1.5 EQM per mile in business/first.

United's partner earning rates on Air Canada in 2016
United’s partner earning rates on Air Canada in 2016.

United has already changed its earnings charts for the following partner airlines to reflect these increased earning rates:

It seems that PQM earnings rates on United’s other partners will remain unchanged from 2015.

Will this change affect your travel plans in 2016?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: 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.