United gives elites a big head start toward 2021 Premier status

Jan 13, 2021

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As with a variety of other airlines and hotel chains, United adjusted its requirements for earning elite status in 2021.

The carrier has reduced qualification requirements by roughly 25% across the board, but, given ongoing entry restrictions, a new U.S. testing requirement and, of course, the risk of contracting COVID-19, it’ll likely be challenging for many members to meet even the reduced requirements for the tier they have in mind.

Elite tier Standard requirements 2021 requirements
Silver 4,000 PQP/12 PQF or 5,000 PQP 3,000 PQP/8 PQF or 3,500 PQP
Gold 8,000 PQP/24 PQF or 10,000 PQP 6,000 PQP/16 PQF or 7,000 PQP
Platinum 12,000 PQP/36 PQF or 15,000 PQP 9,000 PQP/24 PQF or 10,000 PQP
Premier 1K 18,000 PQP/54 PQF or 24,000 PQP 13,500 PQP/36 PQF or 15,000 PQP

Right off the bat, United is making it easier for existing elite members to requalify in 2021, or reach a higher tier. Any members who held status at the end of 2020 should have just received an automatic deposit of Premier Qualifying Points, or PQPs. The number of points you’ll earn breaks down as follows:

  • Silver: 875
  • Gold: 1,750
  • Platinum: 2,500
  • Premier 1K: 3,750

When I logged into my account this morning, I noticed that I was already well on my way to requalifying for status. MileagePlus members who earned status without meeting flying requirements, such as Million Miler companions, may also find that they’ve been issued bonus PQPs based on their current tier.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

United is also issuing bonus PQPs for trips flown in Q1 — you can earn a 100% bonus for your first three PQP-qualifying trips, with a minimum of 300 and a maximum of 1,500 PQPs per trip.

Since I qualified with a flight that earned 268 PQPs, I earned the minimum bonus of 300. If I book two trips, each totaling at least 1,500 PQPs, later in the first quarter, I’ll earn an additional 3,000 PQPs as part of the promotion.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

Depending on your travel plans early this year, these promotions can help get you far closer to status — between the “starter” bonus and the 100% PQP bonus United’s offering for flights between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2021, I already have enough points to qualify for Premier Silver.

Screenshot courtesy of United.

United’s also making it easier to qualify based on credit card spend in 2021, with credit card PQPs counting for all status tiers, including Premier 1K. Members can earn 500 PQPs for each $12,000 spent with current co-branded cards that carry an annual fee, up to a maximum of 1,000 PQPs, including the United Explorer Card and the United Club Infinite Card.

Assuming we aren’t able to travel freely anytime soon, I’d also expect airlines to introduce a variety of programs and promotions to help members close the gap later in 2021.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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