United’s Frequent Flier Program Is Changing—Here’s Who Stands to Gain

In 2024, the airline will enhance its boost to big spenders on the majority of its cobranded credit cards.

United airplane taking off

Positive changes are coming to United’s MileagePlus frequent flier program in 2024, but achieving even basic elite status remains difficult.

Photo by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

United Airlines is making changes to its MileagePlus frequent flier program—and thankfully, the elite status qualification requirements for 2024 will remain the same as 2023. What is changing—and for the better—is how travelers can earn Premier qualifying credit with cobranded MileagePlus credit cards (which are offering increased welcome bonuses currently). This good news comes at a time when earning elite status has become a hot topic. Here’s what you need to know about United’s 2024 program adjustments and why, despite the positive modifications, achieving even basic elite status in the MileagePlus program remains difficult.

Requirements for earning United elite status

Elite status on United Airlines is determined by two metrics: Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) and Premier Qualifying Points (PQP). PQF are achieved by actual flight segments on United, United Express, Star Alliance airlines, and other United airline partners while PQP are determined by the amount spent on United flights, seat assignments, and upgrades. It’s also possible to earn PQP on award flights (at a rate of 1 PQP per 100 United miles redeemed) and through spending on United’s cobranded credit cards.

There are currently two routes for achieving each status rung. One: Bank a combination of PQF and PQP. Two: Rack up more PQP but fly a minimum of four United or United Express flight segments during a qualifying year.

MileagePlus Premier Status
Higher PQP
Premier Silver:
12 PQF + 4,000 PQP
4 flights + 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold:
24 PQF + 8,000 PQP
4 flights + 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum:
36 PQF + 12,000 PQP
4 flights + 15,000 PQP
Premier 1K:
54 PQF + 18,000 PQP
4 flights + 24,000 PQP

These status thresholds for 2023 will remain the same for 2024. While that’s positive, let’s compare that to the recent Delta changes. In 2024, Delta’s moving to a single metric of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQD)—similar to United’s PQP—and the following requirements.

  • Delta Silver Medallion: $5,000 MQD
  • Delta Gold Medallion: $10,000 MQD
  • Delta Platinum Medallion: $15,000 MQD
  • Delta Diamond Medallion: $28,000 MQD

Given that a minimum of four flight segments are required to get any status on United, by default this makes Delta’s Silver, Gold, or Platinum easier to achieve in 2024 than similar tiers on United.

How United elite status is more attainable in 2024

What is changing in 2024 is the rate at which PQP can be earned from credit card spending. PQP are traditionally earned on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges of United flight purchases, seating purchases, and paid upgrades as well as flight purchases on Star Alliance airlines and other airline partners. (You must use your United Mileage Plus number to get these credits.)

PQP can also be earned by spending on select cobranded cards with United’s portfolio. (The United Gateway Card and United MileagePlus Card with no annual fee do not earn PQP for card spend.) The current rates of banking PQP from credit card spending on the United Explorer, Quest, and Infinite credit cards are 500 PQP per $12,000 spent. Next year, this will change to 25 PQP for $500 spent. Each card has a different cap on the number of PQP that can be earned through this channel. In 2024, the cap on the United Club Infinite Card will increase. The information is summarized in the table below.

2023 PQP from card spend
2023 PQP cap from card spend
2024 PQP from card spend
2024 PQP cap from card spend
United Explorer Card
500 PQP for every $12,000
1,000 PQP
25 PQP for every $500
1,000 PQP
United Quest Card
500 PQP for every $12,000
6,000 PQP
25 PQP for every $500
6,000 PQP
United Club Infinite Card
500 PQP for every $12,000
8,000 PQP
25 PQP for every $500
10,000 PQP

Basically, what this means is that you’ll now earn 500 PQP after $10,000 in spending versus $12,000. That’s an improvement, but 5,000 PQP are required to achieve first-rung Premier Silver status with United. By going the route of credit card spending alone, you’ll have to take four flights on United or United Express plus spend $100,000 on the Quest or Infinite card to earn entry-level Silver status—that’s a lot of money for a handful of perks.

In comparison, cardholders of an American Airlines’ Citi/AAdvantage credit card earn one Loyalty Point per $1 spent and can achieve entry-level AAdvantage Gold status with $40,000 in spending. Those with a JetBlue credit card can attain Mosaic Status with $50,000 in card spending. Delta’s new earning structure grants at least entry-level Silver Medallion status for Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers after spending $25,000 in a year.

Other United changes for 2024

United has announced a few other minor changes for next year. On February 1, 2024, those with United elite status will get a small kick start of PQP for the next qualifying status year in the following amounts:

  • Premier Silver: 250 PQP
  • Premier Gold: 500 PQP
  • Premier Platinum: 750 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 1,250 PQP

Also, starting in 2024, there will no longer be a cap for earning PQP across multiple United credit cards, which is good news for those who have both a consumer and a business card. That said, each card still has its own cap, effectively restricting the number of PQP that can be earned through credit card spending.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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