United MileagePlus members will soon have to show their loyalty to United not only by how much they fly, but by how much they pay. Beginning with flights in 2014, Premier status for 2015 will be based miles flown and dollars spent each calendar year.
The same segment and Premier Qualifying Mile (PQM) requirements will remain in place. But starting next year, you will have meet a new PQD (Premier Qualifying Dollar) threshold.
To achieve Premier Silver, you must fly 25,000 miles and spend at least $2,500 on United. If both are not met, you will not earn status. For Premier Gold, the minimum spend is $5,000; for Platinum, it’s $7,500; and for 1K, you must spend at least $10,000.
PQDs are based on money spent on United-marketed flights only (taxes and fees excluded)—this does NOT include money spent on ancillary fees for bags, upgrades, in-flight food/bev, etc. However, it does include spending on fuel surcharges, which can be significant on international flights. Spending on United-marketed flights will include Star Alliance partner and code-share flights– but only those with ticket numbers beginning with United’s code 016. So, for example, dollars spent on a Lufthansa-operated flight will count– but only if your ticket is purchased from United.
United has not revealed how members will be able to track their PQDs yet.
One way around the new rules: Spending at least $25,000 in a calendar year on any MileagePlus Chase co-branded credit card exempts you from the spending thresholds (but not the mileage/segment requirements). However, there is no PQD waiver for Premier 1K qualification- you must spend a minimum of $10,000 to earn 1K status.
Meeting or beating these new spending thresholds may be easy for some, but for others, not so much. For example, to attain or maintain Gold status (50K miles + $5K spend), you would have to buy an average of ten $500 United tickets over the course of a year. How easy or hard do you think this will be? Please vote in our poll!
Like Delta, which announced a similar policy last winter, United is betting that this will weed out the flyers that “game the system” for status or simply buy the lowest fares. In the end, the new spending thresholds are going to hurt leisure travelers (who bring United the least revenue) most. Big spending business travelers might find that with fewer Premiers to compete with, it’s easier to board early and upgrade.
What do you think about United’s moves? Will this affect your loyalty to United? Please leave your comments below.