United Airlines Premier Qualifying Dollars Requirement Starts Today

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Like all good United-loyal miles and points addicts, the first thing I did in 2014 (after turning on cartoons, wishing my family Happy New Year, and drinking coffee) was to log into United.com and check out how my account looks with the new “Premier Qualifying Dollars” requirement tracker.  As you likely know, beginning today, if you have a United States home address and want to qualify for elite status with United for 2015, you have to not only fly enough, but spend enough with the airline to get it.  Your loyalty to the airline don’t mean a thing if you ain’t showing them the money.  If United elite status does not matter at all to you, then neither will the Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement.

Premier Qualifying Dollar Basics:

As a refresher, Premier qualifying dollars (PQD) are dollars spent on flights operated by United, United Express or Copa Airlines; flights operated by a Star Alliance or MileagePlus partner airline and issued on a United ticket (ticket number starts with 016); and Economy Plus purchases.   You earn PQD for the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges on eligible flights (such as fuel surcharges). Certain specialty tickets, including but not limited to unpublished, consolidator, group/tour and opaque fares, do not earn PQD.

Premier Silver: [25,000 PQM (Premier Qualifying Miles) or 30 PQS (Premier Qualifying Segments)] and $2,500 PQD
Premier Gold: [50,000 PQM or 60 PQS] and $5,000 PQD
Premier Platinum: [75,000 PQM or 90 PQS] and $7,500 PQD
Premier 1K: [100,000 PQM or 90 PQS] and $10,000 PQD

A minimum of at least four paid flights operated by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines will be needed to qualify for any Premier status.

How to Get Around the PQD Requirement:

  • In 2014, the PQD requirement is waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold and Premier Platinum qualification if you meet one of the following criteria:
    • You spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases in 2014 on a MileagePlus co-branded credit card issued by Chase Bank
      OR
    • You hold a United MileagePlus Presidential Plus℠ Card (which is no longer available to new applicants)
  • The PQD waiver does not apply for Premier 1K qualification.
  • If you use a military or diplomatic address (APO, DPO or FPO), you are exempt from the PQD requirement for all Premier levels, including Premier 1K.
  • If you live outside the United States

Waiver for four-segment minimum

  • If you hold a MileagePlus Presidential Plus Card or a United MileagePlus Club Card, you are exempt from the four-segment minimum as long as you are the primary Cardmember and your Credit Card account is in good standing at the time of qualification.

My PQD Says $0 Even Though I Have Bought 2014 Tickets:

Right now everyone’s PQD total will say $0 even though you may have bought tickets for 2013 travel already.  That is because you will not get the PQD credited until you actually travel on the ticket.  This is the same way you don’t get the miles posted until you actually fly the flights.  However, if you want to project if your spending will be enough to hit the PQD thresholds, then it does seem to mean you will need to keep track of what you have spent, just like you have to project forward with how many miles you will fly for the year.  This will be a little tricky though as you will have to pay attention to base fare and carrier imposed surcharges as opposed to taxes, as well as ticket numbers with partner flights, etc.

My Strategy:

I flew enough miles to hit top 1k status with United on December 31, 2013 with literally 100 miles to spare.  In other words, I just barely qualified without the PQD requirement.  I don’t think I would hit 1k in 2014 even without the PQD requirement, so I will focus on putting spending on my co-branded Chase United card to get a waiver from the PQD requirement.  $25,000 in annual spending to get the PQD wavier via using the co-branded card through the Platinum level is a ton of spending, but there are lots of ways to get that accomplished.  As the year goes on I’ll see where I stand with Premier Qualifying Miles and Dollars and adjust accordingly, if needed.

I am already booked to about 40,000 Premier Qualifying Miles for 2014, and the year just started.  I’m sure I will at least hit 50,000 elite qualifying miles to attain Gold status, and I very well may hit the 75,000 to achieve Platinum. I’m not going to stress about it at this point.  I’m just going to buy what I need, and fly where I need, and I’ll wait until we are further into the year to see how the numbers are looking before potentially doing anything differently.  I have had Platinum status for over a year, and my experience with it was pretty solid.

Where to Find More Info:

You can head to United.com for more info or keep an eye on this Flyertalk thread that I’m sure will be filled with first-hand reports as some of the first flights of 2014 start to post over the next several days.  My first paid flight on United in 2014 isn’t until the end of the month, so I won’t have any first-hand info on how this all looks until then.

How is this new PQD requirement impacting your 2014 United travel and spending strategy?

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