Earning elite status is something that most people strive for when signing up for airline loyalty programs. The perks that go along with elite status can eliminate many common travel hassles. Many travelers are about to discover that earning elite status with some major airlines in 2017 is going to be harder than it used to be in previous years. Several big airlines are now requiring members to meet spending thresholds before they are bumped up to a coveted elite status. Meeting those requirements can be a big challenge if you aren't constantly traveling for business.

In fact, some casual travelers may start to feel discouraged about the possibility of ever getting elite perks. There's no need to despair if the qualifying totals needed to have your status bumped up to the next tier are out of reach at the moment. United Airlines customers actually have some options at their fingertips when it comes to earning elite status. Take a moment to see if you should pursue a shortcut to gaining United MileagePlus elite status.

Earning Elite Status With United Airlines

It's important to become familiar with what United is talking about when it refers to premier-qualifying dollars (PQDs). These are the revenue amounts that members will need to meet before being bounced to the next membership tier. Here's a list illustrating what you'll need to achieve for each tier in the United MileagePlus program:

  • Premier Silver status requires $3,000 and 25,000 PQMs
  • Premier Gold status requires $6,000 and 50,000 PQMs
  • Premier Platinum status requires $9,000 and 75,000 PQMs
  • Premier 1K status requires $12,000 and 100,00 PQMs

Getting Around PQM Totals

The benchmarks you need to reach to gain elite status can seem overwhelming when you first look at them. However, you may be able to work your way around these totals if you open a co-branded MileagePlus credit card. The airline will actually waive the PQD requirement if you make at least $25,000 in charges in a calendar year. It is important to note that the requirements will only be waived for elite levels up to Premier Platinum status, though.

There isn't currently a way to reach Premier 1K status aside from meeting the traditional requirements. The strategy of using a MileagePlus card to have PQD requirements waived could work for you if you routinely make large purchases for your business.

Something like the traditional United MileagePlus Explorer Card is a great option if your charging habits cover everyday purchases. It is also possible to meet the charge requirements with a few smart moves if you don't have any big purchases planned in the year ahead. The ways in which you can meet the requirements more easily include:

  • Adding an additional authorized user to your MileagePlus card account
  • Paying your taxes using your MileagePlus card
  • Scattering your charges across several MileagePlus cards by opening a new account to accompany your existing one

Being Smart About Elite Status

Earning elite status from United Airlines can definitely be a game changer for people who travel frequently. Members can look forward to complimentary upgrades, priority check-in options, priority boarding privileges, lounge access and baggage perks.

However, you don't want to be stretched too thin when it comes to putting money or resources toward jumping to the next tier. It's important to be shrewd about estimating how much each perk is really worth to you in terms of the big picture, before you commit to signing up for a new credit card.

Credit CardFeaturesIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeWhy we like itWe least likeCredit RequiredRelated links
United MileagePlus<sup>®</sup> Explorer Card

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Your miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

17.49% - 24.49% Variable

$0 Intro for First Year, then $95

Why we like it
  • Rewards Program.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Excellent Credit
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website

N/A

17.49% - 24.49% Variable

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Why we like it
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Excellent Credit
Bank of America<sup>®</sup> Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
APPLY NOWAt Bank of America's secure website

0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases

16.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

$0

Why we like it
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
Excellent/Good
Capital One<sup>®</sup> Venture<sup>®</sup> Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • New! Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your Venture card at hotels.com/venture; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

N/A

14.49% - 24.49% (Variable)

$0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Why we like it
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
We least like
  • No low introductory APR period.
Excellent, Good