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When flying, having airline elite status can make a big difference, even when sitting in economy class.
It can yield perks like faster boarding, better seat assignments, waived fees and even lounge access on select itineraries. That’s why it pays to know what tier delivers the benefits most important to you.
United Premier Gold is where some of the best benefits of United Airlines and Star Alliance come alive, especially on international itineraries.
Each tier has its own perks, with the list growing the higher your status. Here’s how to achieve MileagePlus Premier Gold and what types of benefits you can expect with this mid-tier status.
MileagePlus Premier Gold benefits
MileagePlus Premier Gold is the status tier above MileagePlus Premier Silver and comes with these primary benefits:
Bonus earnings on flights: Members earn 8x MileagePlus miles on United flights as well as bonus miles on flights issued by United on many Star Alliance partners.
Complimentary access to Economy Plus: For the member and one companion, extra-legroom Economy Plus seats are available for free at time of booking. Up to eight companions can choose a preferred seat (not Economy Plus) at time of booking.
Star Alliance status: As a MileagePlus Premier Gold member, you receive Star Alliance Gold status, which comes with priority check-in, security and boarding, an extra baggage allowance, and lounge access on eligible international itineraries.
Priority boarding: Board a United Airlines aircraft in Group 1.
Priority lanes: Access to priority check-in and security lanes at the airport, where available.
Complimentary checked bags: Two free checked bags up to 70 pounds each (three if in the premium cabin).
Premier Gold United phone number: Reach a United agent faster thanks to a dedicated phone line not available to general members of MileagePlus.
Unlimited complimentary upgrades: Get upgraded on many United-operated U.S. domestic routes, including West Coast to Hawaii, as well as Canadian, Caribbean, Central American and Micronesian routes. Upgrades clear, based on availability, as early as 48 hours before departure for the member plus one companion. Basic Economy fares and tickets on premium transcontinental routes are not eligible. If you have a Chase-issued United credit card, you can even qualify for a complimentary upgrade on award tickets.
Improved award availability: United makes more economy class award space available to its Premier members on many flights.
» Learn more: The guide to United Airlines Premier elite status
How to get MileagePlus Premier Gold
There are a couple of ways to achieve MileagePlus Premier Gold status.
Fly United and Star Alliance
Earn at least 8,000 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) and take 24 Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) to achieve Premier Gold status. Another pathway is to simply earn 10,000 PQPs. For either option, you’ll also need to fly at least four qualifying segments on United. These milestones must be met within the calendar year.
Spend on United co-branded credit cards
It's also possible to rack up PQPs using a United co-branded credit card based on calendar-year spending. On the United℠ Explorer Card, you could earn as many as 1,000 PQPs (500 PQPs for every $12,000 spent in a calendar year). The United Quest℠ Card offers up to 6,000 PQPs (500 PQPs per $12,000 spent). Or, you could earn as many as 8,000 PQPs with the United Club℠ Infinite Card (500 PQPs per $12,000 spent).
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
How much is MileagePlus Premier Gold status worth?
In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best airline elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. airline loyalty programs deliver to flyers. Here's how United MileagePlus did.
Cost to earn
Value of tier
Elite earning rate
Not everyone will find the same value because it depends on how you use the benefits of elite status. Those who enjoy complimentary seat upgrades and lounge access will find more monetary value than those who fly domestically on competitive routes with fewer upgrades, for example.
» Learn more: How upgrades work on United
What else you need to know
Status matches available
If you have elite status with another airline and are interested in achieving the same tier with United, the airline regularly runs status match challenges. Note that you’re not automatically given Premier status for the whole year. Instead, if you qualify, you receive equivalent status for 120 days. In that timeframe, you have to meet certain spending requirements. For Premier Gold, you have to earn 2,600 PQPs on United or United Express flights and earn 8 PQFs.
Marriott Bonvoy elite status
If you link your Marriott Bonvoy and United accounts, you can earn instant Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status. This reciprocal elite status match is a great way to improve your stays at Marriott properties, too.
Marriott Bonvoy Gold status includes a 25% bonus on points earning, late checkout and a space-available upgrade.
Does United Premier Gold status get you lounge access? Yes it does, since United Gold status is also Star Alliance Gold status.
This means you and one travel companion can enjoy lounge access on international itineraries, even when flying in economy class.
There are other nice perks
Gold status flyers qualify for a few extra perks like a discounted $149 membership fee to Clear, the expedited security lane at airports. It also includes automatic Avis Preferred Plus elite status on rental cars and bonus miles when renting with either Avis or Budget.
How long does status last?
If you earn status by completing the required number of PQFs and PQPs in 2024, your Premier Gold status will last through Jan. 31, 2026.
» Learn more: When is the best time to status match with each airline?
You can earn Gold status for life
Frequent United flyers can earn MileagePlus Gold status after reaching 1 million lifetime miles. Once earned, they’ll get to keep Gold status for life, which is pretty cool.
Is United MileagePlus Gold worth it?
United Premier Gold benefits are a great way to improve your flying experience.
For example, international travelers get lounge access through their Star Alliance Gold status. If you’re primarily a domestic flyer, the ability to score complimentary upgrades (or at least Economy Plus seats) for you and a companion is worth it, too.
And the bonus miles you earn on flights with Gold status can get you closer to an award ticket.
(Top photo courtesy of United Airlines)
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card