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Frequent flyers often have an airline of choice that they prefer to fly with. However, for one reason or another you may find yourself looking around to see what other airline loyalty programs may be worth a try. If that's the case, you want to give United Airlines a look.
Why? United offers frequent flyers who have elite status on other qualifying airlines the opportunity to status match. That is, a United status match allows other airlines’ loyalty members to temporarily enjoy premier status on United — and if you complete a United status challenge, you get to keep your United status for the remaining year.
Here’s what you need to know about the United status match program.
United Airlines status levels
Before you decide if you want to try a United status match, you should know the basics of United’s loyalty program, MileagePlus.
United has four main tiers of status — from the lowest tier of status to the highest United’s status levels are:
Depending on which level of status you have, you can expect such perks as:
Access to Economy Plus for you and up to eight companions.
Complimentary premier upgrade.
Complimentary checked bags.
Star Alliance Gold status
7-11x miles earned on United flights.
If you want to earn United Premier Gold without a status challenge, you would need either a combination of 24 Premier Qualifying Flights and 8,000 Premier Qualifying Points or 10,000 PQP. You earn one PQP for each dollar you spend on United flights or via partner airlines, so you can achieve the PQP threshold without having to reach 24 flights.
PQF + PQP
12 PQF + 4,000 PQP.
24 PQF + 8,000 PQP.
36 PQF + 12,000 PQP.
54 PQF + 18,000 PQP.
» Learn more: Guide to United Airlines Premier elite status
What you need to know
1. United status matches last 120 days
United’s status match program allows frequent flyers who have status with other qualifying airlines to match their status with United for 120 days. If you have status on a different United States-based carrier, United publishes a helpful guide showing what status you’d match into based on your current status level.
You can expect to get a status match with:
Delta Air Lines.
The status match offered to you by United depends on the level of status you currently have with your preferred airline’s frequent flyer program. For example, Alaska MVP elite members would match to United MileagePlus Premier Silver, while Alaska MVP Gold 75K would match to MileagePlus Premier Platinum.
The above is a guide and not a complete list of airlines that qualify for a status match — for example, you can also qualify for a United status match if you have loyalty status on Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines and many more.
To apply, head to the United website and see if your preferred airline program qualifies.
2. You can extend your status match
If you want to keep your status beyond the initial 120 days, you will just have to meet amount of PQF and PQP you’ll need to maintain your status:
Premier Silver: Fly four PQF and earn 1,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express.
Premier Gold: Fly eight PQF and earn 2,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express.
Premier Platinum: Fly 10 PQF and earn 3,000 PQP on flights operated by United or United Express.
If you complete your requirements for 2022 before the end of the year, you’ll keep your status through January 2024, unless a higher status is earned.
Readers have reported an ability to match to 1K, which is United's highest tier, but since matching to this level is not advertised on United's website, getting a match to this level appears to be more the exception than the rule.
» Learn more: The beginner’s guide to airline elite status
3. You can only request a United status match once every five years
The United status match program is only open to loyalty members of other airlines who have not participated in a United status match within the last few years.
Note that there is an exception for flyers who requested a status match in 2020 or 2021 and failed to meet the requirements, likely due the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. You may not receive reciprocal benefits with United’s partner airlines
A benefit to having United Gold status and above is that it comes with Star Alliance Gold status, which gets you priority boarding, lounge access, priority check-in and other benefits with Star Alliance airlines.
But during your 120-day status match period, you may not have access to those benefits with United’s partner airlines.
5. You can only status match up to United Premier Platinum
The highest status you can match via a United status match is United Premier Platinum. This might make United's status match program less attractive to those frequent flyers who have the ultra-tier status on another airline.
Though United doesn't offer a status match to 1K — the program's ultra-tier — United Platinum might still be appealing to travelers. It was named third best high-level elite status program this year according to a recent NerdWallet analysis.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
6. It takes time to match
United says it will process status match requests in 7-14 days. If you are looking to match your status before taking a particular flight, you’ll want to make sure you have at least two weeks before the flight to help ensure that your status match request will be processed in time.
Keeping in mind these finer details can help ensure that you get the most out of your United status match.
» Learn more: The pros and cons of Star Alliance
Who should consider a United status match
Now that you know the basics about United’s status match program, you may be wondering if you should apply for a United status match. Here are some examples of travelers who should consider a United status match:
Travelers who recently moved from a non-United hub to a United hub. If you moved from a non-United hub to a United hub, a United status match can be a helpful way for you to keep loyalty benefits when you fly without needing to start from scratch.
Frequent fliers who are thinking about switching their airline loyalty. If you’ve been loyal to an airline but would like to give United a try, a United status match is a great way to test out United to see if it’s worth switching your loyalty to United.
If you know you won’t re-qualify for status on a separate airline. If you have status on another qualifying airline but know that you won’t meet the requirements to maintain that status, you should consider requesting a United status match before your airline status expires. This way, rather than losing your airline status altogether, you’ll simply switch your status to United, which you’ll have for at least a 120-day initial period.
Since you can only apply for a United status match once every five years, be sure to think strategically about whether and when a United status match is good for you.
» Learn more: The complete guide to the United MileagePlus program
Final thoughts on United status matches
United’s status match is a good opportunity for flyers who have status with select other airlines to explore being a United Premier elite. Status matching can be especially useful to frequent flyers who have moved from a non-United hub to a United hub.
Before signing up for United’s status match, it’s important to understand the fine print, including that you can only apply for a status match once every five years, that you may not receive all the benefits you’d otherwise get on partner airlines during the status match trial period, and that it can take 7-14 days or more to process your United status match request.
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