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Last minute Elite qualification with United Choices from Chase

Chase Card holders with most United Credit Cards need not lose hope. If you are within 5,000 PQM (Elite miles) of reaching your Elite miles target for the year and you cannot make the last flight you needed to get over the threshold, you have an option!

Elite qualification is something some of us have to fight for all year. As a (un)road warrior, this is an annual process for me – scrounge for every PQM to get to (for me) 50,000 PQM in a year for qualifying as a Gold Elite with United. This year was no different. And plans did not go as I had hoped either. There were cancelled trips, trips on Delta (yikes!) as United has terrible early morning connectivity to Atlanta from DC, missed flights that resulted in me flying American (double yikes!) and the mother of them all – I redeemed miles on myself (breaking my own rule) for a roundtrip Business Class ticket to India!United PQM.jpg

So, I had given up hope on hitting 50,000 PQM this year when the unthinkable happened – I received my 5,000 PQM from my United MileagePlus card for hitting a spend target of $35,000 in a year. This card is an old United card now called the United MileagePlus card that, I believe, is not available to apply for anymore. That brought me within a couple of thousand miles of Gold. But, no more flights! All my travel for the year was done and I do not do mileage runs. I then remembered that my United card had another benefit – the ability to redeem RDM for PQM – using a program called United Choices. There are other benefits thru this redemption program that I will cover in a later post, but the one that matters most now is the ability buy PQM with RDM for no cash cost! You can redeem RDM in increments of 10,000 for a 1,000 PQM each, upto a maximum of 5,000 PQM. It got me over the line!

I would suggest checking this out. Especially if like me, you value cash over miles. Miles can be earned by just applying for a card. I recently earned 50,000 miles thru my Chase Ink card, all of which can be transferred to United! So, hope is not lost. Even this late in the year, just like I did, you can get up to 5,000 additional PQM from the comfort of your couch.

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  1. You may want to place a call to UA before doing this. I was about to redeem when I noticed some GPU’s with 2014 expiration dates already in my account.

  2. @NIck, how close were you to hitting 1K? I have heard (multiple threads on FlyerTalk and Milepoint) that UA was granting early Elite status to folks within a few hundred miles of their Elite target. Of course, no such luck for people a few thousand PQM away.

  3. UnRoadWarrior,

    Thank you so much for letting me know about this added perk. I had been looking for a milage run the past few weeks to complete about 1400 miles remaining, got sick, didn’t want to fly, saw winter storms in the Midwest, and then saw prices increase dramatically around the holidays. I thought all hope was lost to maintain my status for 2013, until I read your post today! As long as the United website promises, I cashed enough miles to maintain my status. THANK YOU!


  4. @Andrew, you are welcome! That’s what we do :). Enjoy your Elite status. What level did you reach?

  5. @unroadwarrior,

    I reached Silver status. Yes, I know, this not gold, platinum, diamond, nor galactic but I work for a non-profit and live on a tight budget. I travel mostly for work related projects. The occasional upgrades on international flights are very nice, or getting the extra leg room for free for my six-foot three-inch frame makes flying more enjoyable. I feel that ‘spending’ 20,000 miles for the 800 elite hotline, expedited baggage handling on at the airport, the ability to enter the United ‘elite’ line at check-in is worth it and the status will save me time at the airport making traveling more easier and seamless. For some reason, I also feel a little more appreciated by United staff when I have Silver status.

    I am in the process of applying for Global Entry, and if successful, it would help me bypass the long lines at TSA security. If successful at getting approved, I was a little more ‘ok’ with not getting Silver Elite. The difference wouldn’t be that much. I figure with how much I plan traveling in 2013, the 25% bonus on miles flown will help offset the initial cost of 20,000 miles. There is potential for a flight to Australia early next year, and maybe I can try reaching for Gold status by the end of the year.

    This afternoon United deducted the 20,000 miles from my account. I am still waiting for Silver Elite status to post. I did the transaction late this morning before the deadline of December 30, 2012. I have printed out a copy of the transaction, just in case United doesn’t follow through, and I have confidence they will award me. I am anxiously waiting.

    Again, thank you for for letting me know about this added feature.

  6. @Andrew, I did my transaction on the 26th and the PQM just posted an hour or so ago. So it takes a couple of days. You should be OK.

  7. Hi @UnRoadWarrior,

    I did something stupid a month ago. I cancelled my United card for some other Chase card. So I don’t have Choices miles to use now. I am about 5000 miles short to reach Gold Status. Any other option? Thanks in advance for your help.

  8. @unroadwarrior, My MQM miles posted this morning to continue elite status for 2013. Thanks again for the post.

  9. @Nel, I would suggest calling United and asking them of your options. As we are already into 2013, your options are really not that many

  10. Did United cancel this perk? I realize that this is an older post, but it looks like this aspect of mile redemption has silently been removed from the United website….

  11. @scurvy, seems to be gone… Anyone know if they killed it or just hid it very well?

  12. After much research over the past few days, this perk is certainly gone. United Choices continues to exist, but the only options for using miles are airfare or card fees.

    In fact, there does not seem to be any option today for acquiring PQM to top off your account–not even by buying them outright. The only option left is the Award Accelerator program, which allows you to acquire additional PQM–on a per trip basis–and only if you also buy non-qualifying Award Miles as well.

    This certainly has done nothing to endear United to me. Considering the lack of Wi-Fi on virtually all United flights, Delta is looking better all the time.

  13. @Robert, you are correct. United no longer offers this feature. Other than activity based PQM from credit cards that offer them – there are a few legacy cards that still give PQM for hitting spending threashold or buying tockets on United.com – there is no way to earn last minute PQM without flying.

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