Earn Elite and Lifetime Credits With United Basic Economy Fares

Dec 10, 2018

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As the rare product that airlines actually don’t want you to purchase, United’s historically done just about everything it could to make basic economy as unappealing as possible. Finally, there’s a bit of good news on that front.

United’s basic economy fares exclude seat assignments, carry-on bags, Economy Plus or first class upgrades — and, inexplicably, they didn’t even count toward Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD) requirements for elite status. Like, you’re still spending money with the airline, but United, in an attempt to further discourage elite-status hopefuls from buying these tickets, decided that it’s going to ignore any amount spent on those deep-discounted fares, even when they still end up costing you many hundreds of dollars for certain flights.

United elites still can't select free Economy Plus seats.
United elites still can’t select free Economy Plus seats.

Fortunately, much of that is about to change. For all travel beginning Dec. 11, United will allow basic economy fares to count toward elite status, finally matching basic economy on American and Delta. MileagePlus members will earn:

  • Full Premier Qualifying Dollars
  • 50% Premier Qualifying Miles
  • 0.5 Premier Qualifying Segments
  • Lifetime miles (based on mileage flown)
  • Segments toward the four-segment minimum for elite status

Even after this change, all customers (including elite members) will not be eligible for:

  • Complimentary seat selection (including Economy Plus)
  • Paid, mileage or certificate upgrades
  • Complimentary (elite) upgrades
  • Ticket changes or refunds
  • Online check-in (unless you’re paying for a checked bag)

United elites and Star Alliance Gold members do get priority boarding, a free full-sized carry-on bag and one free checked bag — as a result of these changes, if you’re okay forgoing free seat assignments, flight changes and upgrades, buying a basic economy fare won’t sting quite as much as it has in the past.

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.

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