United Airlines MileagePlus Premier status: What each tier offers

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United Airlines MileagePlus® Premier status could make your flight more comfortable with perks like complimentary seat upgrades.



At a glance: United MileagePlus Premier status

As a United MileagePlus member, you’ll earn five miles for every $1 you spend on airfare. 

But to be eligible for the exclusive perks that come with airline status, you’ll need to qualify for MileagePlus Premier status.

There are four levels of MileagePlus Premier status.

  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K®

Let’s see how they compare.

  When can you confirm seat upgrade? Complimentary checked bags United Club℠ annual membership Clear® annual membership
Premier Silver Day of departure 1 N/A N/A
Premier Gold 2 days before departure 2 N/A N/A
Premier Platinum 3 days before departure 3 $50 discount N/A
Premier 1K® 4 days before departure 3 $100 discount Complimentary

How does United MileagePlus Premier status work?

United doesn’t require you to fly a certain number of miles to qualify for MileagePlus Premier status. Instead of tracking distance flown, United looks at your Premier qualifying flights and Premier qualifying points.

Premier qualifying flights measure how many segments you fly. For example, if you book a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles that connects in Chicago, you’d get two PQFs because you completed two flight segments. Premier qualifying points measure how much you spend on those flights. You’ll earn one PQP for every $1 you spend on airfare, carrier-imposed surcharges, seat purchases and upgrades.

It’s worth noting that when you book a basic economy or award ticket, you’ll earn PQPs, but not PQFs.

United credit cards don’t offer complimentary MileagePlus Premier status, but they help provide a path to get there. If you have a United credit card, you might be eligible to earn some of the PQPs you need with your everyday spending.

United MileagePlus Premier Silver status

What does Premier Silver status get you?

United MileagePlus Premier Silver members earn a higher rate of seven miles for every $1 they spend on flights.

As a United Premier Silver member, you’ll be eligible for seat upgrades if there are any available on the day of departure. Just keep in mind that you’ll be at the bottom of the list below 1K, Premier Platinum and Premier Gold members. So if the flight is full, there’s no guarantee United will be able to accommodate you. The consolation prize is that even if you don’t score a first-class upgrade, you’ll still be able to select your preferred seat — such as a window or aisle seat — for free when you book your ticket.

You’ll also receive one free checked bag, priority check-in, priority security screening and priority boarding. And you’ll have access to better award availability in the economy cabin with no blackout dates.

How do I qualify for Premier Silver status?

To qualify for United MileagePlus Premier Silver status, you’ll need the following:

  • 4 PQFs and 3,500 PQPs, or …
  • 8 PQFs and only 3,000 PQPs

But if you’re a big spender, you might be able to use a United credit card to get most of the way to Premier Silver status.

United MileagePlus Premier Gold status

What does Premier Gold status get you?

United MileagePlus Premier Gold members earn eight miles per $1 spent on flights.

As a United Premier Gold member, you’ll be eligible for seat upgrades two days before departure, if there are any available. This gives you a better chance to score an upgrade than Premier Silver members, but you’ll still have to wait in line behind 1K and Premier Platinum members. But even if there aren’t any first class seats left when it’s your turn, you’ll still be eligible to upgrade to Economy Plus for free when you book your ticket.

You’ll also receive two free checked bags.

This is on top of all the perks that Premier Silver members get.

How do I qualify for Premier Gold status?

To qualify for United MileagePlus Premier Gold status, you’ll need …

  • 4 PQFs and 7,000 PQPs, or …
  • 16 PQFs and 6,000 PQPs

You can also use a United credit card to help you get part of the way there.

United MileagePlus Premier Platinum status

What does Premier Platinum status get you?

United MileagePlus Premier Platinum members earn nine miles per $1 spent on flights.

As a United Premier Platinum member, you’ll be eligible for seat upgrades three days before departure, if there are any available. This gives you a better chance to score an upgrade than Premier Silver and Premier Gold members, but you’ll still be behind 1K members in the pecking order. Like we mentioned before, at the very least you should be able to upgrade to Economy Plus at the time of booking.

You’ll also receive three free checked bags.

If you’re interested in joining the United Club, you’ll get a $50 discount on the cost of an annual membership.

This is on top of all the perks that Premier Gold members get.

How do I qualify for Premier Platinum status?

To qualify for United MileagePlus Premier Platinum status, you’ll need …

  • 4 PQFs and 10,000 PQPs, or … 
  • 24 PQFs and 9,000 PQPs

While using a United credit card could help a little bit, it won’t make a big dent on your path to Platinum status.

United MileagePlus Premier 1K status

What does Premier 1K status get you?

United MileagePlus Premier 1K members earn eleven miles per $1 spent on flights.

As a United Premier 1K member, you’ll be at the top of the food chain when it comes to seat upgrades. You’ll get first crack at them — four days before departure — if any are available.

In addition to all the perks you earn as a Platinum member, you’ll get a complimentary Clear annual membership and a $100 discount toward United Club annual membership, plus one free drink and snack when you fly economy.

How do I qualify for Premier 1K status?

To qualify for United MileagePlus Premier 1K status, you’ll need the following:

  • 4 PQFs and 15,000 PQPs, or … 
  • 36 PQFs and 13,500 PQPs

Using a United credit card won’t have a big effect on your effort to earn 1K status.

Which United MileagePlus credit card is right for you?

If you’re loyal to United, opening a United MileagePlus credit card could help you enjoy some sweet airline perks — without bothering with all the status qualification requirements.

You could also earn plenty of miles.

But you might be wondering, “Which credit card is right for me?”

If you’re a budget traveler …

The United Gateway℠ Card gives you a chance to turn your miles into award flights — with a $0 annual fee.

When you first get the card, you can earn 20,000 miles after spending $1,000 on purchases during the first 3 months from account opening.

Plus, you’ll get …

  • 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on gas
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on commuting expenses like rideshares and local transit
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

On top of that, you’ll get 25% back on your in-flight purchases from United.

If you’re a frequent flyer …

If you can maximize the flight credits and miles earned with the United Quest℠ Card, you’ll more than make up for the $250 annual fee.

New cardholders earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases during the first three months from account opening. 

Plus, you’ll get …

  • 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases (immediately after earning your $125 annual United credit)
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on other travel purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on dining purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on select streaming purchases
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Don’t let the $250 annual fee get you down. The United Quest℠ Card, which includes United MileagePlus membership, also comes with a $125 United statement credit each year after your account anniversary. You’ll also get 5,000 miles back after booking an award flight twice during each account anniversary year. Based on Credit Karma’s point valuations, we estimate this credit is worth about $171.

On top of that, you’ll also get two free checked bags, priority boarding, 25% back on in-flight purchases and a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

If you’re a luxury traveler …

The United Club℠ Infinite Card will make your flight more comfortable.

New cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases during the first three months from account opening.

Plus, you’ll get …

  • 4 miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 on other travel purchases
  • 2 miles per $1 on dining purchases
  • 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases

What really sets this card apart are its premium features. You’ll receive a complimentary United Club membership, as well as access to priority check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling.

But these benefits come at a steep cost: There’s a $525 annual fee.

If you’re a business traveler …

The United Club℠ Business Card could help you get work done while you’re traveling.

You’ll earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases during the first three months from account opening.

Plus, you’ll get:

  • 2 miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 1.5 miles per $1 on all other purchases

But the real reason to get this card is its complimentary United Club membership, which means you can get away from the crowds and do some work while you’re waiting for your flight. And once you’re on board, you can use the 25% in-flight credit to purchase WiFi.

You will also save time at the airport with priority check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling.

We figure the perks of the card help make the $450 annual fee worth it for business travelers who need to stay productive while they’re in the air.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.