United has followed Delta Air Lines’ lead in adding a dollar spend requirement for elite status qualification starting in 2014 called paid qualifying dollars (PQDs). TripBadger reported on Delta’s similar move last March. So far, American Airlines has not added a spend requirement to its AAdvantage program.
To qualify for MileagePlus elite status in 2014 (valid through 2015), members will have to cross spending thresholds in addition to miles flown or segments. This another example of changes to United’s MileagePlus program to reward travelers based on how much money they spend with the airline rather than for miles flown. The added spend requirement for elite status will make it less lucrative to splurge on last minute cheap mileage runs to pad your elite status qualification balance.
According to United’s website, PQDs are calculated on the base fare for tickets plus carrier-imposed surcharges. Note, taxes are excluded. You can earn PQDs on purchases for flights flown by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines, as well as flights operated by Star Alliance or MileagePlus partners airlines (issued on a United ticket) and buying Economy Plus seats. The PQD requirement only applies to MileagePlus members whose primary MileagePlus account address is within the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.
Luckily for anyone with a Chase United MileagePlus credit card, United will waive the spend requirement for Silver, Gold, and Platinum qualification levels if you spend more than $25,000 in net purchases in a calendar year. There is no waiver for PQDs at the Premier 1K level.
Here’s a summary of how to qualify for United MileagePlus elite status in 2014:
- MileagePlus Premier Silver: 25,000 elite qualifying miles (EQMs) or 30 paid qualifying segments (PQS) plus $2,500 PQDs
- MileagePlus Premier Gold: 50,000 EQMs or 60 PQS plus $5,000 PQDs
- MileagePlus Premier Platinum: 75,000 EQM or 90 PQS plus $7,500 PQDs
- MileagePlus Premier 1K: 100,000 EQMs or 120 PQS plus $10,000 PQDs