Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - More Ways to Earn Elite Status
United's recent change to allow credit card spending to count towards Premier elite status is a game-changer for many infrequent flyers. In the past, reaching coveted Premier Silver, Gold, or Platinum status required meeting minimum flight mile and segment thresholds. For someone who only flies a few times a year, hitting those targets seemed virtually impossible.
Now United is providing another pathway. By spending on co-branded credit cards like the United Explorer Card or United Club Card, you can rack up Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) that help you reach status. This new earning method levels the playing field and makes elite perks more accessible.
Frequent flyer boards are buzzing with excitement about this updated policy. For road warriors who already hit status organically through flights, PQDs simply offer a nice bonus. But leisure travelers are thrilled at the possibility of finally attaining perks like free upgrades, priority boarding, and waived bag fees. One United fan who flies just twice a year from Kansas City to Orlando shared that he applied for the Explorer Card solely due to this change. After meeting the sign-up bonus and estimated yearly spending, he'll have enough PQDs to reach Premier Silver.
Another occasional United flier posted that she had given up on ever making Premier but will now try to spend strategically on her United Club Visa to shoot for Gold. It may take a couple years by optimizing her big purchases like insurance payments and tuition bills, but she's motivated by United finally valuing her wallet as well as her wings.
Of course, high frequent flier balances don't always align to money spent. A budget-conscious college student can rack up miles through cheap economy fares but have little credit history to obtain premium cards. United does seem to be rewarding its big spenders through this shift.
But overall, the PQD addition cheers infrequent flyers who previously felt shut out from the elite tiers. United is clearly trying to incentivize card acquisitions and ongoing spending. Yet this switch also shows that they are listening to feedback from members who want recognition for their total relationship, not just time in the air.
We may see other airlines eventually follow suit if United succeeds in driving more credit card applications and purchases. Delta already adjusted its Medallion Qualification Dollars system in a similar spirit. So more changes industry-wide could be on the horizon.
What else is in this post?
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - More Ways to Earn Elite Status
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Credit Card Bonus Miles Now Help Reach Next Tier
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - United Rewards Big Spenders
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - What Credit Cards Help Boost Status
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Other Airlines May Follow Suit
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Good News for Infrequent Fliers
- Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Will This Devalue Elite Status?
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Credit Card Bonus Miles Now Help Reach Next Tier
United's decision to allow credit card spending to count as Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) is a game-changer for members looking to reach the next elite status tier. In the past, you could only earn PQDs by purchasing airfare and add-ons directly through United. Now, bonus mile offers on co-branded cards provide another avenue to boost your balance.
For example, the United Explorer Card currently offers 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That same $3,000 can be designated as 3,000 PQDs to catapult you closer to Silver, Gold, or Platinum status. Even if you don't fly often, a savvy credit card strategy could help you unlock perks like free checked bags, premium cabin upgrades, and more.
On FlyerTalk, United regulars are buzzing about this new opportunity. One member who flies Chicago to San Francisco monthly shared that he earned the Explorer bonus last year but didn't have enough air travel to reach Premier Silver. But with his estimated everyday spending now converted to PQDs, he'll qualify for Silver and its perks after his next work trip.
Another occasional United flyer who jets to Hawaii once a year raved that combining her co-branded card spending with the PQDs from her vacation airfare will finally let her attain Gold. In her words, "It's awesome that United is letting my overall relationship with them count. I've had the Explorer for years but now I can finally put those miles to use for status!"
However, some worry this shift may lead United to increase the PQD thresholds required for Premier tiers. One Denver-based flyer grumbled that "This feels like a bait-and-switch. United gets us to sign up for more cards and then they'll just move the goalposts for status higher."
Indeed, in the next few years, it will be interesting to watch if United raises the PQD requirements now that credit card spending can supplement air travel. Many loyal United customers will feel frustrated if they constantly have to ramp up expenditures to maintain their status.
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - United Rewards Big Spenders
United's new Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) have infrequent flyers cheering, but what does this change mean for elite road warriors? Heavy-hitting frequent flyers initially worried that suddenly credit cards would be an easy shortcut to status. However, United structured the PQD conversion rates to reward its biggest spenders.
On FlyerTalk, United Premier 1K members analyzed the earning rates. They quickly concluded that high-frequency travelers will still have a leg up. United set the conversion at 1 PQD per $1 spent on airfare and class of service upgrades. But co-branded credit card spending earns just 0.5 PQD per $1.
So a $5,000 airfare ticket nets 5,000 PQDs, while $5,000 on an Explorer card only totals 2,500 PQDs. For top-tier elites flying over six figures in paid tickets annually, no amount of card swiping comes close. As one longtime 1K member put it, “They’d need to charge a million bucks on their Hyatt card to equal my usual airfare spend.”
This nuance incentivizes United’s most profitable customers to keep buying premium seats. A San Francisco-based consultant who makes over 100K air miles per year explained, “I was concerned when I heard about PQDs at first. But the way United set this up reassures me that my status isn’t getting diluted or devalued.”
Meanwhile, these road warriors still enjoy the upside of accruing some extra PQDs through everyday credit card purchases. For a Premier 1K, earning say 10,000 supplemental PQDs from a sign-up bonus and estimated annual spending might make requalifying at the top tier a bit easier. But it's not enough PQDs to take them across the finish line alone without serious air travel.
So United found a middle ground with PQDs. They motivate new co-branded cardmembers and offer a nice boost for loyal flyers. But elite-qualifying airfare still accounts for the majority of status. As one Global Services member put it, “Letting my organic Premier 1K miles count more preserves the value of my status. United isn't just giving it away through credit cards. But I'll enjoy the few extra PQDs too."
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - What Credit Cards Help Boost Status
When United announced Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs), suddenly any credit card spending could inch travelers closer to elite status. But not all co-branded airline cards help boost your Premier tier equally. Choosing the right card is key to maximizing your PQD earnings.
The standout option is the United Club Card, which offers 1.5 PQDs per $1 spent. This creates an accelerated path to unlocking perks like free checked bags, premium cabin upgrades and more. One Denver-based United flyer explained on MilePoint, “I’ve had the cheaper Explorer for years, but with this PQD change I applied for the Club Card. The 50% earning bonus will help me finally hit Premier Gold next year.”
With a $525 annual fee, the Club Card does come at a price. But frequent United travelers find value via United Club airport lounge access, two free checked bags on United flights, and generous Premier bonuses like four annual United Club one-time passes.
Next best for PQD earnings is the no-fee United Explorer Card at 1 PQD per $1 spent. The sign-up bonus alone can score you several thousand PQDs. A Seattle teacher aiming for Premier Silver shared on Reddit, “I'll get 3,000 PQDs from the 60,000 mile bonus after meeting minimum spend on my new Explorer Card.”
The premium United Club Infinite Card also earns 1.5 PQDs per $1 like the Club Card. But with a $650 annual fee, it only makes sense if you maximize the United Club memberships,Global Entry application fee reimbursement and other elite-like perks.
Miles-earning business cards like United Business Explorer and select Chase Ink cards allow PQD earning too, but at lower 0.5 PQDs per $1 rates. Still helpful to combine with an Explorer or Club personal card, but alone they don't accelerate status as quickly.
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Other Airlines May Follow Suit
United’s Premier Qualifying Dollars have been a revelation for many infrequent flyers finally gaining access to elite status perks. This policy fuels speculation that other major airlines may eventually copy United’s credit card PQD model. These carriers want to drive more co-branded card sign-ups and ongoing spending just like United.
Delta already adjusted requirements in a similar spirit by introducing Medallion Qualification Dollars back in 2014. So they set an early precedent of letting dollars spent supplement miles flown for status. But their implementation only allows airfare purchases and extras like seat upgrades to count as MQDs, not general card spending yet.
American Airlines Executive Platinum status still solely relies on elite-qualifying miles or segments flown. But many predict AAdvantage will inevitably roll out an equivalent to PQDs to court more profitable credit card customers. As one Dallas-based Executive Platinum commented on FlyerTalk, “American surely sees how United is motivating card apps and purchases with PQDs. It’s only a matter of time until they unveil ‘Platinum Qualifying Dollars’ to stay competitive.”
JetBlue also maintains traditional thresholds for Mosaic elite status, counting flight miles and segments only. But TrueBlue points earned through credit card bonuses help shorten the Mosaic requirements slightly. Though their program doesn’t yet mirror United’s PQD system, it does acknowledge overall spending impact.
Meanwhile, Southwest distinguishes itself with tier-less status. Spending $15,000 annually on a Southwest credit card gives you benefits like priority boarding and in-flight discounts. But some members wish for PQD-like modifications to introduce more elite levels and rewards for big spenders.
Alaska Airlines pioneered allowing card spending to count towards status when they launched MVP Qualifying Miles in 2007. Their system is actually more generous than United's with 1 MQM earned per $1 on Alaska Airlines cards. Time will tell if they adjust closer to United's model.
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Good News for Infrequent Fliers
For years, infrequent United flyers felt locked out of reaching Premier elite status. Minimum Premier qualifying flight miles and segments seemed virtually impossible for leisure travelers taking just one or two trips annually. But United’s new Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) throw struggling silvers and gold-star aspirants a lifeline.
Now credit card spending converts to PQDs to supplement actual flight activity. This policy change has sparked excitement among United’s aliases – “occasional O’Hares” who don’t rack up enough miles organically. One Wisconsin-based traveler explained on Reddit, “I only fly MKE–ORD twice a year to visit my sister in Chicago. But putting everyday expenses on my United Explorer Card means I’m actually on track for Silver status finally!”
For these casual United fliers, it’s not the free upgrades or premium cabin access driving the Premier frenzy. It’s those coveted free checked bags. A Denver skier aiming for Premier Silver shared, “I haul gear for my annual ski trips and those bag fees add up. Even one free checked bag would save me a ton.” A Washington D.C. couple trying for Gold status echoed, “Not paying for luggage would make our once-a-year Hawaii trip so much cheaper.”
Of course, optimizing spending across multiple United co-branded cards quickens the path to status. A Pittsburgh-based Premier hopeful explained, “I got the 60,000 mile Explorer bonus to start. Now I use it for groceries and bills to get PQDs. Down the road, I may add the United Club card for the 1.5x earning rate when I am closer to Gold.”
But a few voices urge caution amidst the excitement. Some worry United may increase Premier PQD requirements now that credit spending counts. Others caution that PQDs could eventually extend waitlists for premium cabin upgrades. In the words of one Denver-based Silver member, “It’s great United is making status more accessible. But I hope they don’t dilute perks as more elites join the ranks.”
Unlock the Skies: United Allows Credit Card Spending to Count Towards Premier Status - Will This Devalue Elite Status?
United’s addition of Premier Qualifying Dollars has been met with enthusiasm by many infrequent flyers finally able to attain elite status perks. But some worry this policy shift could diminish the value of top-tier levels down the road.
On FlyerTalk boards, concern bubbles that credit card spending thresholds may eventually eclipse flight mile requirements for status qualification. A Denver-based Premier 1K member who logs over 150K miles annually explained: “Right now, my butt-in-seat Loyalty dollars still make up the majority of status qualification. But in 5 years, who knows? United might lower Loyalty flight mile minimums and replace them with higher Premier Qualifying Dollar spends.”
Indeed, United has incentive to push more cardmember spending to reap merchant transaction fees. But so far, the airline has struck a balance rewarding both heavy air travelers and credit card swipers. Still, road warriors stress that elite tiers must continue reflecting those who loyally choose United for frequent flights.
Some also worry that flooding the elite ranks with PQD-focused members could water down premium cabin upgrades. A concerned Houston-based Global Services member noted: “As a GS member, I used to feel confident I’d clear upgrades on hub routes like IAH–ORD. But I’m already seeing longer upgrade waitlists as elites proliferate through credit card activity.”
However, United maintains that upgrade priority will continue reflecting members’ air travel patterns, not just Premier status tier. An airline representative reassured: “Premier members who actively fly United will maintain the best shot at upgrades over those who qualified on credit card spending alone.”
Nevertheless, a Charlotte-based Premier Silver on FlyerTalk griped: “As a United frequent flyer hitting Silver organically each year, I’m now stuck behind big-spenders who swiped their way to status but rarely step foot on a plane.”