United Slashes 2021 Elite Status Requirements

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Still catching up on the news I missed last week while on a cross-country RV trip with 5 DDF members…

Last October, United killed the ability to earn elite status based on flown mileage and replaced it with how much you spend on flight and how many flights you take.

Little did they know that a few months later the industry would shaken to its core by COVID-19. No airlines have matched their changes and United extended elite status expiring on 1/31/21 under the old program to 1/31/22. United also lowered the 2020 flying requirements to earn status.

Under the new program you can earn elite status via PQF (premier qualifying flights) and PQP (premier qualifying points). You can read more about the program changes here. Note that United devalued partner earnings after that post, as described here.

Each flight segment on United or a partner airline will earn 1 PQF. Basic economy, light fares, and award tickets won’t earn PQF. You will also need a minimum of 4 PQFs on United flights in order to earn status.

Each dollar (except taxes) that you spend on United flights will earn 1 PQP. You will earn PQPs includes basic economy and light fares. Additionally economy plus seat and subscriptions, preferred seat purchases, upgrades, and upgrade award co-pays will earn 1 PQP per dollar spent.

American led the way with lowered requirements for 2021 and now United has slashed their original PQF and PQP requirements for 2021:

In other words 1K status was supposed to require $24,000 of spending or 54 flights+$18,000 in spending but will only require $15,000 of spending or 36 flights+$13,500 in spending.

Silver status was supposed to require $5,000 of spending or 12 flights+$4,000 in spending but will only require $3,500 of spending or 8 flights+$3,000 in spending.

Additionally, non-elites will earn 50% bonus PQPs and elites will earn 100% bonus PQPs on their first 3 trips from January-March 2021. Non-elites will earn a minimum of 150 bonus PQPs and a maximum of 1,000 bonus PQPs per trip. Elites will earn a minimum of 300 bonus PQPs and a maximum of 1,500 bonus PQPs per trip. Completion date of the trip will determine the first 3 trips. A trip is a one-way, round-trip, or multi-city ticket on United flights. Note that trips that begin before 1/1/21 won’t count even if it has segments in 2021.

Plus, Silver elites will start off the year with 875 PQPs, Golds will get 1,750 PQPs, Platinums will get 2,500 PQPs, and 1Ks/GS elites will get 3,750 PQPs. That means that 1K/GS elites are guaranteed to at least have Silver status for another year if they have at least 4 PQFs, which is the minimum required to earn status.

PlusPoints, which are earned by Platinum/1K/GS elites for upgrades, that expire on or after 1/1/21, will be extended by 6 months. That includes points that have already been extended. Points will be extended by 12/15/20.

1Ks who have earned 15,000 PQPs in 2021 will get 20 additional PlusPoints for every 2,000 additional PQPs instead of the normal 3,000 PQP thresholds.

Credit card PQPs from the United Explorer, Club, Business, and Awards cards were previously excluded from obtaining 1K status. That restriction has been removed for 2021 if the PQPs are used in conjunction with the PQF requirement for 1K status. Presidential Plus cardholders do not need to meet the PQF requirement.

  • The United Explorer, Club, Business, Awards, and other cards with annual fees will earn 500 PQPs for spending $12K annually or 1,000 PQPs for spending $24K annually.
  • The no annual fee United Gateway card does not earn PQPs.
  • The grandfathered United Select and Platinum cards will earn 500 PQPs annually for every $12K spend, but these cards can earn up to 3,000 PQPs annually.
  • The grandfathered United Presidential Plus cards will earn 500 PQPs annually for every $12K spend, but these cards can earn up to 10,000 PQPs annually. Grandfathered Flex PQPs can only be applied to earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
  • You can combine PQPs from multiple cards, up to 5,000 PQPs per member. Presidential Plus cards are excluded from this cap.

With free award redeposits for all members, airlines like American and United have removed one of the big benefits of elite status.

Will you try to earn United status in 2021?

HT: nafnaf12, via DDF

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17 Comments On "United Slashes 2021 Elite Status Requirements"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Congrats on UA being a more convoluted program than Matmid. You need a degree in engineering to understand how it works.


Is United trying to make this a complicated as possible?


Most people with elite status don’t necessarily consider free award redeposits as one if the big benefits of status. The ability to choose economy plus/main cabin extra/comfort + for free and to get free upgrades either complimentary or using some type of instrument such as plus points or 500 mile upgrades is usually why they get status.


United has free award redeposits up until right before the flight takes off? I know American recently rolled that out, but didn’t see United do the same.


Does the United Gateway card give access to the expanded award saver space or only the explorer?


Does this by any chancy also affect the united status match challenge at all? Or is it staying the same?


When UA changed to PQP etc. I decided to give up on my 6-7 years elite status, but since in 2019 I qualified for Gold and now it being extended till 2022 and slashing requirements, I might end up trying to keep it


Is there a minimum pqp you earn per flight segment? If you fly many segments but don’t spend a whole lot, is it impossible to attain status on UA?


Is this 100% bonus only if you buy 016 ticket or also non-016?