Is United Status Worth It?

Over the past weeks, we’ve considered if it is worth it to hold elite status with the four major airline loyalty programs: American Airlines’ AAdvanageDelta Air Lines’ SkyMiles Medallion and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards A-List. However, there is still one more major program left to consider: United Airlines’ MileagePlus Premier elite status.

As the official airline of U.S. Olympians and the only Star Alliance elite program based in the United States, United Premier status is considered with high regard among some frequent flyers. For years, I split my allegiance between United MileagePlus premier and other Star Alliance programs. But does it offer the right rewards for your flying style? Let’s take a closer look at MileagePlus Premier, and who benefits the most from this program.

What Are the Tiers of MileagePlus Premier?

As with every legacy airline loyalty program, MileagePlus Premier has four tiers of loyalty, which grants rewards based on the total flights taken and money spent with the carrier.

United MileagePlus Premier Silver: 25,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 30 Premier Qualifying Segments and $3,000 qualifying spend.

  • Earn seven miles per qualifying dollar in award MileagePlus miles.
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seating at check-in.
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades (where available), and instant upgrades on full-fare tickets.
  • Priority check-in, security screening, boarding privileges and baggage handling.
  • One complimentary checked bag.
  • Priority award waitlisting and standby on international awards.

United MileagePlus Premier Gold: 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 60 Premier Qualifying Segments and $6,000 qualifying spend.

  • Earn eight miles per qualifying dollar in award MileagePlus miles.
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seating at booking.
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades (where available), and instant upgrades on full-fare tickets.
  • Priority check-in, security screening, boarding privileges and baggage handling.
  • Lounge access on international travel.
  • Two complimentary checked bags.
  • Discounted or waived same-day flight changes.

United MileagePlus Premier Platinum: 75,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 90 Premier Qualifying Segments and $9,000 qualifying spend.

  • Earn nine miles per qualifying dollar in award MileagePlus miles.
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seating at booking.
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades (where available), and instant upgrades on full-fare tickets.
  • Eligibility for Regional Premier Upgrades.
  • Priority check-in, security screening, boarding privileges and baggage handling.
  • Lounge Access on international travel.
  • Three complimentary checked bags.
  • Discounted or waived same-day flights changes and phone service charges.
  • Discounted United Club membership rates.

United MileagePlus Premier 1K: 100,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 120 Premier Qualifying Segments and $12,000 qualifying spend.

  • Earn 11 miles per qualifying dollar in award MileagePlus miles.
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seating at booking.
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades (where available), and instant upgrades on full-fare tickets.
  • Lounge access on international travel
  • Eligibility for Global Premier Upgrades.
  • Priority check-in, security screening, boarding privileges and baggage handling.
  • Three complimentary checked bags.
  • Best availability for award flights.

Are There Any Shortcuts to MileagePlus Premier Status?

Unlike Delta SkyMiles Medallion status and Southwest’s Companion Pass, you can’t earn miles towards United MileagePlus Premier status with credit cards. However, if you hold a United MileagePlus credit card from Chase, you could bypass the Premier Qualifying Dollars through spending. According to FlyerTalkers, the 2018 Premier Qualifying Dollar waiver is the same as 2017 – meaning if you spend $25,000 on your MileagePlus credit card, you could earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum Status through flying alone. But there is no shortcut to the top tier Premier 1K status.

Who is MileagePlus Premier Status Best For?

Like American’s AAdvantage elite status, United’s status is one of the hardest to get and hardest to keep year after year. But the rewards can be worth the difficulty. At the Gold level and above, getting access to international lounges and upgrades to Economy Plus can make long international flights just a little bit easier – especially if you are in the cheap seats. In addition, priority check-in, available to those even at the lowest level, can help travelers get from boarding area to gate quickly.

Another benefit that should not be overlooked is the priority on awards for all elites and standby for international awards. Combined with rewards on Star Alliance (arguably the alliance with the largest global reach), there are a lot of rewards for being a regular flyer.

That being said, flyers who are not regulars aboard United may not get the best rewards from the lowest loyalty tier. Considering the 25,000 miles required and $3,000 spend, it could be cheaper to get a free checked bag and priority boarding from the United MileagePlus Explorer credit card. Additionally, unless you have a plan to use your MileagePlus miles on a regular basis, trying to be a regular MileagePlus Premier elite might not grant enough rewards for the spend involved.

If you plan on making United your primary airline and want to travel abroad often, Gold status or above could give you great rewards with every flight. But if you plan on chasing discounted flights, this program won’t offer regular rewards for you.

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