I plan to post more about this later, but wanted to share the news as soon as I read it.  This is bad news for those who like mileage running for their United elite status (or for those who just fly on low fares) since there will now be hefty spending minimums to go along with each elite threshold.  The silver lining (at least for next year) is that those who can put 25k in spending on their co-branded United card (or cards as the net spend on several cards will count) will be spared at the Silver, Gold, and Platinum level, but wow.  There is no credit card spending waiver for those who want 1K.  This is pretty major, though I suppose not unexpected given the industry trend. My gut reaction is this is just too much, though it is very similar to what Delta announced for themselves.  I believe Delta’s revenue requirement is actually slightly higher for their top tier, though their top tier revenue requirement can be waived with credit card spending, unlike with United.

Here it is from UA Insider on Milepoint:

Today we’re announcing some upcoming changes to our Premier qualification requirements for 2014. We’ve posted complete details and a FAQ at www.mileageplusupdates.com, but I wanted to share an excerpt of the key points with you directly:

Starting in January 2014, Premier qualification for members living in the United States will include a minimum annual spending level. We will track this new requirement with Premier qualifying dollars (PQD) – dollars spent on most United tickets, including partner flights, and Economy Plus purchases. The changes will not affect Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or Premier qualifying segments (PQS). The new criteria will look like this:

Premier Silver: [25,000 PQM or 30 PQS] and $2,500 PQD
Premier Gold: [50,000 PQM or 60 PQS] and $5,000 PQD
Premier Platinum: [75,000 PQM or 90 PQS] and $7,500 PQD
Premier 1K: [100,000 PQM or 90 PQS] and $10,000 PQD

A minimum of at least four paid flights operated by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines will be needed to qualify for any Premier status.

For 2014, the PQD requirement is waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum qualification for members whose address with MileagePlus is within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia and who spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases in 2014 on a MileagePlus co-branded credit card issued by Chase Bank USA, N.A. There is no PQD waiver for Premier 1K qualification.

As mentioned above, there are more details and a FAQ posted at www.mileageplusupdates.com, and over the next few days we’ll be communicating this information to our members. In the meantime, if you still have any more questions after going through the FAQ, please post them here and I’ll do my best to clarify.

The following spending counts toward the PQD requirement:

  • Base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges
  • Flights flown by United, United Express, or Copa Airlines
  • Flights operated by a Star Alliance or a MileagePlus partner airline and issued on a United ticket (ticket number starting with 016)
  • Economy Plus purchases

These changes apply to 2014 qualifying activity for status through 2015 and do not affect your 2013 qualifying activity for 2014 status, so continue on your current path this year, but be ready for the changes next year.  Also note that the Premier qualifying dollar (PQD) requirement only applies to members whose primary MileagePlus account address is in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Members who use U.S. military or diplomatic addresses (APO, DPO or FPO) are exempt from the PQD requirement.

The FAQs also state that for 2014, the Premier qualifying dollars (PQD) requirement is waived for existing Presidential Plus Cardmembers for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum qualification. There is no PQD waiver for Premier 1K qualification. For 2014, we will continue to waive the four segment minimum for Presidential Plus and MileagePlus Club Card Cardmembers as long as their card account is open and not in default at the time of qualification.  The Presidential Plus Card is no longer available to new applicants.

Thoughts??  Anyone moving to Canada?  (I kid, I kid).  ;)

Posted by mommypoints | 41 Comments

41 Responses to “Major ($) Changes to United Elite Status Qualifications Next Year”

  1. Andrew C says:

    This is not surprising at all. In any way. Heck, they almost announced it last year but balked.

  2. Tim2 says:

    My thoughts? American is next. This is probably why they are doing away with the soft landing. Well darn, I was looking into getting into MR this summer. Oh well, at least they let you spend your way almost there.

  3. mommypoints says:

    Andrew, I agree it isn’t surprising in some sense, but it is still a bit of a brutal piece of news waiting for you in the morning.
    Tim2, agree. These changes won’t impact qualifying this year for next, so you could still MR this summer if you wanted.

  4. nikdro says:

    Wow, that stinks. I am moving to Denver this year and was considering flying exclusively United, but now I will continue to fly Southwest or whatever is cheapest

  5. Yikes! This is terrible news. Thanks for sharing with us MP

  6. Ivan says:

    So for those of us that fly less than 4 times a year on United, but spend over $25K on a Mileageplus card, no premier status?

  7. Keith says:

    I don’t think the issue is with mileage runs if all flights are on UA, then you probably will spend at least the required PQD.

    I think the issue is with FF who earn a majority of PQS/PQM on *A as you must have at least segments on UA and the PQD is only for UA flights or UA ticketed flights.

    Guess I will change my address to my international address to avoid this.

  8. Delta Points says:

    Huge news! Bet we see many UA now status match to Delta!

  9. Trajan81 says:

    When Smi.J was praising Delta, I had a feeling this was coming…didn’t expect it to be announced this soon however.

    Guess its time to get a United Club card.

  10. Nick says:

    Gosh this is basically telling mileage runners to get lost. It’s not an issue for the non-mileage runner 1K, I’ve spent close to the figure mentioned already this year. I do hope the intention is to improve upgrade rates for higher elites and not just sell them for cheap to non-elites. If that’s the case this tactic could backfire big time. Note as well that its individual spend, spend for family members wont count.

  11. Sanjeev M says:

    As long as UA doesn’t devalue redemptions, than I don’t really care what they do to Elite status. In any case, it might actually thin out the elite ranks.

  12. Ric Garrido says:

    Now that will keep me from buying mistake fares to earn UA 1K for under $2,500.

  13. Welcome to Delta’s world…this is not a surprise at all, especially since they basically copied Delta’s programs almost verbatim (except as you pointed out for the top tier).

  14. Danny says:

    use a foreign address instead?

  15. lcpteck says:

    My UA account is registered in Singapore so I understand that I am exempted from the PQD requirement.

    But it seems that I need to fly UA metal in order to qualify for premier status? So that means if I choose to fly a *A partner and bank in my miles with UA, I would not be eligible for any Premier status? Is that right?

  16. patricia says:

    horrific … my 3cpm loyalty is now down the toilet

  17. Bruce says:

    All airlines should have a spending threshold and IMO, it’s a great idea. People complain about too. many elites, etc. and the only reason it is like that is because of people who mileage run just to get status. The new PQD will clamp that down a bit not enough though – I think the threshold should be higher.

  18. Lack says:

    lcpteck: right. But the same requirement for 4 paid UA flights a year is already in place.

  19. lcpteck says:

    Ok, I read at least 4 segments need to be on UA metal. So whatever remaining can be other *A members right?

  20. lcpteck says:

    Thanks Lack.

  21. Trevor says:

    Not a huge surprise given the praise he was giving to Delta. Two key points he said in an article that I think was posted yesturday on AIA’s Daily: (1) United was faultering because it was operating as an Airline and not a business. Operate it as a business and its doing better. (2) Delta is 2 years ahead of UA (merger wise), and he’s praising them for how they are doing. This is a shame because they’re killing it for us “enthusiasts.” — I wonder what impact it will have on the Global Services ranks…

    To respond to Keith’s comment — it used to be (and might’ve been again), possible to attain UA 1K status for $5-8k. In fact, I think earlier this year the “buy PQM” option was as low as $0.08 a mile (at last check its nearly $0.11 a mile).

  22. Welcome to our world. -Delta elites

  23. Mike says:

    As a business traveler I’m fine with this. I agree that it will hopefully thin the ranks a bit for those of us who have to fly weekly whether we want to or not.

  24. [...] Eine recht gute und nach erster Übersicht auch relativ gute Zusammenfassung der Änderung gibt es bei Boardingarea: Major ($) Changes to United Elite Status Qualifications Next Year – Mommy Points [...]

  25. nomad says:

    To all those who consider quickly “changing” country of residence: you will have to prove the legitimacy of the foreign address.

  26. Cory says:

    These changes to elite status are generally disappointing. I have had elite status on Delta for 4-ish years now. I have enjoyed it, but if I am being completely honest I would say this: I am not the target for elite status. I don’t fly nearly enough. And, while I am sure Delta appreciates my business, losing me as a regular customer is such a marginal loss that it doesn’t even register.

    Now, I am just a Silver and had one year as Gold. So, I wasn’t really detracting from any Platinum or Diamond members who were possibly growing frustrated with bloated ranks of elites. I don’t really matter to them, either :)

    I will miss the ability to choose an exit row or other preferred seat. I will miss the occasional upgrade. But, I understand why they do it. If an elite program is meant to reward its best, most frequent, and most profitable customers then that’s what it should do. And, I am not one of those people.

    That said, I wish they would improve the experience for the rest of us too.

  27. Stefan says:

    It’s designed to get rid of the bottom feeders and will thin out the herd. Not a bad thing IMO. Most high tier FF will not be affected, because they already spend that much per year. It is meant to get rid of the mileage runners and let’s face it UA has too many elites.

  28. Carl says:

    Not really surprising. I wonder if there are significant numbers of members at each tier level who wouldn’t have met the spend requirement. If you are pure mile runner, maybe, but if do any material amount of work travel or inflexible-date travel, chances are that you are spending close to the required amounts.

    I do hope that the website will include a tool to monitor progress on the dollar requirement.

    To the extent that this hits people who are mainly milerunners, it is kind of a hit at the Flyertalk & Milepoint communities, but maybe from UA’s perspective they don’t mind culling the folks skilled at hacking the travel programs

  29. Jamie says:

    I think this makes those fixed value cards more attractive. Being able to use those bonuses to buy some of your revenue tickets becomes more valuable.
    Maybe Mr. Mommy points was looking into some kind of crystal ball when he picked that Barclay Arrival card. ;-)

  30. Carl says:

    This only starts in 2014 for 2015 qualification, so people are still safe this year.

  31. J2daP says:

    So what’s the big deal with the Presidential Plus card? Why are spend requirements waived for that card and not the current United Club card? Not that I’m complaining…I have the Prez Plus and was going to cancel it this year….now maybe not!

  32. Trajan81 says:

    Presidential Plus is the pmCO card and they seem to like to be nice to their pmCO fliers and not so much to their pmUA fliers..

  33. J2daP says:

    I’m a pmUA flyer who actually got the Presidential Plus card for free first year when they were giving out promos in the lounges right after the merger…so if management thinks they’re only benefiting pmCO flyers, the joke’s on them. I’ll take what I can get! But seriously, I would love to know the rationalization for treating the two Club cards differently.

  34. mommypoints says:

    The favoring of the Pres Plus card is interesting and I don’t 100% understand it myself unless there was some type of small print attached to that card that I don’t know about. I have the Club Card and I imagine lots of folks would flock to that card if it also waived the spend requirement. Congrats to those who held onto the very solid Pres Plat card!

  35. Carl says:

    In the FAQs they seem to be saying the Presidential Plus waivers are for 2014 only (and also only up to Platinum), leaving themselves open to change it in the future. Perhaps that card once promised Platinum? Or promised top pmCO tier?

  36. Nick says:

    I suspect there are some customers who put lots of spend on their Presidential Platinum cards and use the Flex EQM to assist in qualifying for Premier Platinum status. These must be valuable high net worth customers I’m guessing. The Flex EQM don’t count for 1K though anyway.

  37. Chris B. says:

    Guess this answers the question, “what is better for earning UA miles, CSP or UA MileagePlus Club card”?
    .
    Well, this is a bump for Delta, since at least they have good customer service.
    .
    Does this strengthen miles credit to other Star Alliance carriers (especially Aegean), since Silvers rarely get upgraded anyway?

  38. Tim says:

    As one who tends to qualify on points and not miles and travels largely for business, I welcome the trend.

  39. Mike says:

    I mean honestly…if you aren’t hitting these spend levels (which aren’t that high for a year)…why would the airlines want to give you elite perks anyway?

  40. Kris Ziel says:

    Profitable United or happy Flyertalkers? I’ll take a profitable United any day of the week. If you leave United because of the revenue requirement, it is one less person for high rev elites to vie for upgrades with and one less person United isn’t making money on. If it wouldn’t help them make more money, they wouldn’t do it.

  41. [...] Spend on base fares, airline imposed taxes and surcharges, and economy plus purchases will all count toward the PQD requirement. Flights flown by United, United Express, and Copa Airlines, as well as flights operated by a Star Alliance or MileagePlus partner and issued as a United ticket (ticket number starts with 016) will earn PQDs. (HT MommyPoints) [...]

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