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If you enjoy flying United, you may already be aware of Plus Points. However, many people remain confused about United Plus Points and how they work. One of the best perks of achieving elite status with an airline is scoring upgrades, but in late 2019 United made changes to its program.
Instead of receiving upgrade certificates, upper tier elite status members now earn Plus Points. So, here we’ll explore United Plus Points in more detail, so you can get the best value from your points.
What Are United Plus Points?
Essentially, United Plus Points are upgrade currency that Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members can earn. These points can be used to upgrade to a better cabin for their own flights or flights of friends and family, even if you are not flying with them.
This system can seem a little confusing, but it is actually a fairer system than the old certificated based system. Before the changes, if you wanted to upgrade to business class you would need to use a Global Premier Upgrade, regardless of whether you originally booked a discount economy or premium economy ticket.
With this new system, you will pay differing Plus Point amounts depending on the original fare class. This means that those who book premium economy will not be “wasting” upgrade potential.
How Can I Earn United Plus Points?
United Plus Points are awarded to Premier Platinum and 1K elite members when they earn elite status. They are also offered as a bonus for continuous United flying.
- Achieve United Premier Platinum Status: Once you achieve Premier Platinum status, you’ll be awarded 40 Plus Points.
- Achieve United Premier 1K Elite Status: At this achievement, you’ll be awarded a further 280 Plus Points.
- Continue Earning Premier Qualifying Points: After you achieve Premier 1K status, you will be awarded 20 Plus Points for every 3,000 PQPs that you earn beyond the 18,000 needed to hit 1K status.
Getting Premier Platinum and Premier 1K Status
Obviously, the key to earning Plus Points is to achieve Premier Platinum and Premier 1K status. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that can help you to achieve this status including:
- Make United Purchases: You’ll earn 1 PQP for each dollar that you spend on base fare and surcharges, MileagePlus upgrade award co-pays, United flight upgrades, Star Alliance partner flights.
- Book Award Flights: When you’re redeeming your miles for an award flight, it can count towards your elite status. For every 100 miles used for United or United Express award flights, you’ll earn 1 PQP. So, if you redeemed 5,000 miles for a free flight, you’d get 50 PQPs.
- Spend with United Co-branded Credit Cards: There are a number of United co-branded credit cards that provide a PQP bonus when you meet the spend requirement. For example, with the United Quest Card you can earn up to 6,000 PQPs, and the United Club Infinite card offers up to 8,000 PQPs. You can even combine PQPs if you have multiple United cards, but there is a maximum threshold of 15,000 PQPs across all your cards.
Maximum PQPs Per Year
Up to 4x miles 4x miles on United Airlines purchases, 2x miles on all other travel purchases, dining and eligible delivery services and 1x miles on all other purchases
Up to 3x miles 3 miles per $1 spent on United purchases immediately after earning your $125 annual United purchase credit, 2 miles on all other travel and select streaming services, 1 mile on all other purchases
United Gateway℠ Card
1X – 2X 2X per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting and 1X on all other purchases
United℠ Business Card
1X – 2X 2X per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting and 1X on all other purchases
1X – 2X 2x per $1 spent on United purchases, hotel accommodations, restaurants & eligible delivery services and 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases
$95 ($0 first year)
What Can I Use United Plus Points For?
United Plus Points are used to replace upgrade certificates, so there are only two ways to use your Plus Points.
You can spend your Plus Points to request an upgrade, but United will not deduct your points until the upgrade has been confirmed, so you won’t miss out if an upgrade is not possible.
The number of points you need depends on your original ticket, and your destination. However, it breaks down as follows:
- 10 Points: Upgrade from Premium Plus to Business on United short haul flights.
- 20 Points: Economy to First or Businss class on United short haul flights, or Economy to Premium Plus on short or long haul flights
- 30 Points: Premium Plus to Polaris Business Class on United long haul flights
- 40 Points: Economy to Polaris Business Class on United long haul flights
- 80 Points: Discounted Economy to Polaris Business Class on United long haul flights
You can also spend 40 points to upgrade with a partner airline, but these points are immediately deducted from your account.
This is an exclusive Premier 1k feature, which allows you to use additional Plus Points to confirm your upgrade instantly for select international flights. You can also use this feature for friends or family traveling with you on the same reservation.
This feature is only available 30 days or more before the scheduled departure and it is non refundable. If you transfer to a new flight, the benefit will not transfer.
Restrictions for Redeeming United Plus Points
United is fairly flexible about redeeming its Plus Points. However, it is important to note that upgrade requests are not immediately granted and there are no guarantees.
This is why United will only take the points from your balance once an upgrade request has been confirmed.
Can I Use United Plus Points For flights On Partner Airlines?
Not all partner flights are eligible for an upgrade using Plus Points. Depending on the fare, you may be able to request an upgrade, but generally most discount fares and award flights are not eligible for a Plus Point upgrade.
If your fare is eligible for a Plus Points upgrade, there are two ways to use your points:
- Complete the online form: This is the method if you’ve booked directly with the partner airline. There is an online form and you can then “Check Upgrade Availability.” United will search for availability and confirm your new cabin if there is room.
- Call United: If you’ve booked your partner flight via the United website, you will need to call the United customer service desk to request your upgrade.
How Much Are United Plus Points Worth?
There is no clear cut formula to work out how much United Plus Points are worth as it will depend on the cash cost of an upgrade on a particular itinerary.
While the Plus Points cost is set as detailed above, you would need to look at the cash upgrade cost to determine the dollar value of your Plus Points.
How Long Do United Plus Points Last?
Plus Points do not have an infinite lifespan and they expire at the end of the program year which you earned your Premier Platinum or Premier 1K elite status. Essentially, this means that you need to ensure that you use your Plus Points before the end of your elite status year.
So, if you qualified for Premier 1k in July 2023, you would have this status until the end of 2024 and your Plus Points would last until this date.
Can I Transfer United Plus Points to Another Member?
You cannot simply transfer United Plus Points to family members or friends, but you can use them on their behalf. You can use Plus Points for flight upgrades for others even if they are not traveling with you.
You can make an upgrade request on the United website or app as you would for yourself and the Plus Points will only be deducted from your balance once the upgrade has been confirmed. However, if you want to use Plus Points to Skip Waitlist for your family member or friend, they must be traveling with you.
No, you cannot purchase Plus Points, but you can earn Plus Points by spending with your United co-branded credit card.
No, your Plus Points will not help you to earn elite status, as they are a high tier elite status perk.
Yes, the two currencies are separate. You will earn MileagePlus miles on your flights and PQPs. It is PQPs which determine your Plus Points.
They will not only help you towards Premier Platinum and Premier 1k status, but after Premier 1K qualification, you’ll get additional Plus Points for every 3,000 PQPs you earn as you fly.
Additionally, you can still earn PQPs when you use your Mileage Plus miles for award flights, so its win-win.