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United gives elites a big head start toward 2021 Premier status

Jan. 13, 2021
3 min read
United gives elites a big head start toward 2021 Premier status
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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 tierStandard requirements2021 requirements
Silver4,000 PQP/12 PQF or 5,000 PQP3,000 PQP/8 PQF or 3,500 PQP
Gold8,000 PQP/24 PQF or 10,000 PQP6,000 PQP/16 PQF or 7,000 PQP
Platinum12,000 PQP/36 PQF or 15,000 PQP9,000 PQP/24 PQF or 10,000 PQP
Premier 1K18,000 PQP/54 PQF or 24,000 PQP13,500 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.

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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 image by ETCs can only be used to book United and United Express flights. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more