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Airlines are simultaneously making it easier and much more difficult to get elite status, but if you want to go from zero to gold, you’re going to have to pay. If you missed out on earning United status for 2016, you’re in luck — the airline is now running a promo that lets you purchase status outright that you’ll have through the end of 2016. But be warned: It’s very expensive.

The promo appears to be targeted, but United’s casting a wide net here — as long as you don’t already hold 1K status and you have some qualifying activity in 2015, you should be able to purchase status.


The rates seem to fluctuate a bit depending on which level you’re offered, but if you didn’t earn status at all last year, you should be able to purchase Silver (and only Silver) for $3,149. Or, for $700 more, you can get Silver and 5,000 PQMs that count toward earning status for 2017. Ouch! Don’t forget that Marriott Platinums and above can receive United Silver status for free, so I’d go that route if you can. Or, if you want to earn Silver by flying, you’ll need to earn 25,000 PQMs or 30 segments, plus $3,000 PQDs — you’ll be spending roughly the same, but you’ll have earned many miles in the process. (Note that you can get around this PQD requirement by spending $25,000 on a co-brand Chase card, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card.)

United elite perks include free access to Economy Plus seats.
United elite perks include free access to Economy Plus seats.

One TPG reader who qualified for Platinum status last year has the option of buying up to 1K for $3,559 (it’s unclear whether or not upgrades are included with the 1K offer). He also saw the offer to buy 5,000 PQMs for an additional $700, or a total of 10,000 PQMs for $1,400 — not exactly a great deal. Regardless of which offer you see, you must make your purchase by February 28, 2016.

Thanks to TPG reader Raj T., who shared this news tip by emailing We’ll be sending out a $200 Visa gift card as a token of our appreciation.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

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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
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
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.

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