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It’s the end of the year and that means that those of you that care about airline status could be feeling the pressure if you’re a bit short of what is required to requalify for a given status level. Luckily, if you’re a United flyer, there is a way that lets you purchase Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) to help reach the level needed to earn your MileagePlus Premier status for the coming year.
The general process
Note: Make sure that you will still meet the Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD) requirement for your desired status level or that you have a PQD waiver before following the outlined method above. PQM purchases do not count toward the PQD requirement.
Also keep in mind these terms and conditions of the Award Accelerator:
Cost generalizations for the PQM Accelerator are difficult, but the following should give you a baseline to work off of.
The cost you will pay per PQM varies more by the time of year you make the PQM purchase and status level rather than the specific flights that you use the above trick for.
As a general rule, PQM rates are lower earlier in the year – so if you know well ahead of time that you are going to be short of your desired status level there is potential to save money.
In 2016, there were reports of PQMs being offered for as low as $0.07 per PQM plus the cost of redeemable miles, which typically vary between $0.019 and $0.021 cents each. You can’t purchase PQMs without purchasing redeemable miles, so this means that the total cost you will find will be $0.069 to $0.071 at the lowest.
If you already have status, you will likely be offered the opportunity to purchase more redeemable and premier miles at a time in comparison with a general member. For example, a 1K might be offered 5,000 and 10,000 miles while a general member would only be offered 2,000 and 3,000.
As a general rule, those with higher levels of status will also need to pay more for their Premier Accelerator miles than a general member or someone with a lower level of status. The closer you are to reaching a higher status level, the prices for your Accelerator options will generally be higher.
There have been some reports that pricing for PQM+RDM is lower on new bookings vs existing bookings.
Overall, early in the year you should be able to find PQM+RDM as low as 9 CPM, though 10-12 cents per mile will be more typical. Late in the year, it is not unheard of for PQM+RDM Accelerator to top 15 cents per mile.
Whether or not paying for premier accelerator miles is worth it is going to depend on two factors.
Firstly, how far away you are from the next status level, which is going to tie into how much it costs, and secondly, how much you value your status.
There are other ways to earn PQMs without flying, but unfortunately neither are available to new applicants.
Just in case you have the options available and just didn’t realize, here they are:
Presidential Plus Card – With this card, you earn 1,000 PQMs for each $5,000 spent on the card. The PQMs can be used anytime within the calendar year that they are earned as well as for up to three additional years. These PQMs can only be used to obtain up to Platinum status. This card is not open to new applicants (it is a legacy card from Continental Airlines).
United MileagePlus Select Card – Earn up to 5,000 PQMs through spending on United.com. You’ll earn 1 bonus PQM per dollar spent on United.com purchases. This card is not open to new applicants (it is a legacy card from United before its merger with Continental).
Hopefully United will choose to match Delta and American, who each have options to earn a substantial number of PQMs via credit card spending on their premium co-brand credit cards like the Delta Reserve card and the Citi Executive AAdvantage.
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