Give Yourself a Boost: United Offering Targeted Elite Status Buy Ups

United is making targeted offers to let customers buy qualifying miles and segments towards elite status. I just received one.

I requalified for American’s Executive Platinum 100,000 mile status in mid-June. I’ve been flying them less, though, with only a couple of segments under my belt since then. I’ve been buying on schedule and price rather than going out of my way to fly American even when they’re pricier or less convenient (e.g. a connection vs non-stop). That’s why I’ve flown Southwest, Virgin America, and United this year also. In fact it looks like I’ll earn status with United also.

I could buy up to status now with this offer. Here’s the pricing I was offered:

I’m not going to take them up on this. I should earn Premier Silver naturally, and would have to make an effort to reach Gold.

Frankly I’m not looking forward to United status, and am considering actively avoiding it, because as a non-elite I’ve been given access to cheap first class buy up offers that elites don’t get (and those offers come ahead of elites on the upgrade list). Ironically first class would become more out of reach for me if I earned Silver.

In some sense this offer doesn’t represent anything new from United. You can already buy miles and elite qualifying miles in conjunction with an itinerary (the price tends to get more expensive for qualifying miles as the end of year approaches).

On the other hand it might be another sign that United may have culled too many elites when they increased their minimum spend requirement for status in lock-step with Delta. They don’t earn Delta’s revenue premium, and Delta has grown larger than United, so there’s no logical reason that their requirements ought to be the same. Different business objectives and customer pools.

It’s certainly an indication that cold cash injections are more important than wallet share over the course of a year.

Terms and conditions:

PQM and PQS promotion purchase terms and conditions

Offer is for select MileagePlus members and only the original recipient of this offer is eligible to participate.

All Premier® qualifying miles (“PQM”) and Premier qualifying segments (“PQS”) purchased with this offer are nonrefundable.

Must be a MileagePlus member to participate in this offer.

Offer allows, per member, a maximum purchase of 15,000 PQM and 15 PQS toward 2016 PQM and PQS balance and 2017 Premier status qualification. PQM and PQS purchases must be made in increments of 1,000 PQM and 1 PQS; there is no minimum PQM and PQS purchase. Purchased PQM and PQS will be posted to the 2016 PQM and PQS balance in the account of the member listed on the purchase page.

PQM and PQS purchased through this offer only count toward qualification for 2017 Premier status and do not count toward and may not be used for award redemption.

PQM and PQS purchases do not count toward the Premier qualifying dollar (“PQD”) requirement for Premier status qualification.

Purchases only supplement a member’s 2016 PQM and PQS balance and can help you meet the PQM and PQS requirements for Premier status qualification but do not guarantee status qualification. As part of qualification for any Premier level, members must fly a minimum of four paid flights operated by United or United Express® during a calendar year and satisfy any applicable PQD requirements. (Certain Chase cardholders are exempt from the minimum flight requirement.) View Premier Status Qualification Requirements

All PQM and PQS are sold in U.S. dollars through this offer.

A customer can make a purchase in connection with this offer only once.

Other restrictions apply.

Fees may vary by member. Offer and fees are subject to change without notice.

PQM and PQS purchased through this offer will be posted to the account of the member listed on the purchase page within 5-7 business days of the purchase date.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. At these prices shouldn’t you mention that it would be cheaper to take a mileage run? Certainly you can find transcon (5k EQM) <$750 and TATL ((10k EQM) <$1400. Not to mention the RDM. Really these offers only make sense for people who have more $$$ than time. In which case they should consider just buying discounted F.

  2. I hear you Mike, I just flew paid business class SFO-SIN and they were short 3 breakfast trays. These must have gone to upgraded passengers because I didn’t get one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *