United makes it easier for select cardholders to earn elite status

Mar 19, 2021

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Some United Airlines credit card holders will now have an easier path toward earning elite status this year.

Granted, “easier” is relative here — maxing out the airline’s latest promotion is going to require a lot of credit card spend.

At the end of last year, United Airlines detailed its reduced requirements for frequent flyers to earn elite status in 2021. Travelers can earn entry-level Silver status after eight flights and 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs), for example, while flyers can reach top-tier Premier 1K after 36 flights and 13,500 PQPs — effectively $3,000 and $13,500 spent on eligible flights, before taxes and fees.

While leisure travel is clearly beginning to pick back up, as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, business travel is lagging far behind. As a result, those spending requirements are likely out of reach of many travelers, leaving United — and status-hungry flyers — to close the gap.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

To kick things off, the airline is offering premium credit cardholders an opportunity to earn more PQPs than they could before the pandemic. Travelers with the United Club Infinite Card (and the previous United Club Card) can earn up to 3,000 PQPs (up from 1,000 PQPs) based on their spending in 2021.

The airline awards 500 PQPs for every $12,000 of net credit card spend. But while you can now earn up to 3,000 PQPs via this method, you’ll need to spend a whopping $72,000 on your consumer United Club card to reach that target.

Elite status comes along with a ton of perks, from free checked bags to confirmed lie-flat upgrades. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Fortunately, I think this is just the beginning. Given that business travel is not expected to recover for quite some time, United’s elite ranks will likely thin considerably after this year — unless the airline decides to step in.

I’d expect more promotions to launch later in the year. Perhaps the airline will incentivize flyers to purchase tickets in business or first-class cabins by offering double PQPs — similar to the carrier’s Q1 promotion — or maybe United will launch route-specific promotions, targeting transatlantic travel.

The airline could even choose to add in some fun challenges — say, offering up bonuses to customers who try the airline’s newest flights, or to those who book travel with family members and friends.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.