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.