United Premier Gold Status Review: (Benefits, Upgrades, Lounges) [2020]

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United Premier Gold elite status offers a nice step-up in the benefits department from United Silver. With things like lounge access, better upgrade potential, and larger baggage allowances, there’s a nice value potential.

But how do you achieve Gold status and what are all of the benefits that it offers?

I’ll show you exactly how to achieve United Premier Gold status and talk about all of the benefits that go along with it like upgrades, lounge access, and many others.  

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What is United Premier Gold status?

United Premier Gold is one of the middle-tier elite statuses offered by United Airlines. It offers a nice step up of benefits from United Silver which include better upgrade perks and lounge access.


How do you get United Premier Gold status?

You can earn United Premier Gold status by completing the following requirements:

  • 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
Premier levelPQF and PQP Requirement
Premier Silver12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP
Premier 1K54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP

Premier Qualifying Flights

PQFs are Premier Qualifying Flights and each flight you take will earn one credit toward your PQF requirement. Most revenue partner flights do count towards your PQF count.

Note you don’t earn PQFs with Basic Economy fares or award tickets. Finally, you must fly at least four United-operated segments to qualify for any level of elite status with United Airlines.

Premier Qualifying Points

PQPs are Premier Qualifying Points and you’ll earn one PQP for every $1 you spend on qualifying purchases. 

You will earn PQP on the following:

  • Most flights operated by United and United Express
  • Most flights operated by a Star Alliance partner airline and connecting partners
  • Most flights operated by Air Dolomiti, Azul, Edelweiss, Eurowings, and Olympic Air
  • Most Economy Plus purchases
  • Most preferred seating purchases
  • Paid upgrades
  • MileagePlus Upgrade Award co-pays

Credit cards 

With co-branded United cards you can earn 500 PQPs with the first $12,000 spent each calendar year and an additional 500 PQPs with an additional $12,000 in spend. So you can earn a total of 1,000 PQPs with $24,000 in spend that can be applied up to Platinum.

Here are some of the eligible United cards: 

Status matches

You can also earn United Gold via status matches.

Here’s how United elite status matches up with other statuses from other airlines.

Delta Air Lines Medallion® level Silver Gold Platinum
American Airlines AAdvantage elite status Gold Platinum Platinum Pro
Level matched to in MileagePlus Premier
Silver
Premier
Gold
Premier
Platinum

If you qualify for a status match, you’ll get matched for 90 days but in order to keep that status you’ll need to complete a certain amount of flying within that time period. You can read more about how these status challenges work here

Here’s an example of the amount of flying you’d need to finish in the past — note that new requirements are now in effect and the chart below is just for reference. 

 
MileagePlus Premier status PQM or PQS requirements
Premier Silver Fly 7,000 PQM or 8 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Gold Fly 12,500 PQM or 15 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express
Premier Platinum Fly 18,000 PQM or 22 PQS on flights operated by United or United Express

Tip: Don’t miss out on my #1 rated travel card. This card is now offering a new high offer of 60,000 points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening! 


What are the benefits of United Premier Gold status?

United Silver offers many benefits that you can get with a co-branded United credit card. But United Gold status is a nice step up from Silver in that it starts to offer you a much wider range of more valuable elite benefits like lounge access, better upgrades, and a higher baggage allowance.


United Gold upgrade benefits

Economy Plus upgrades

Just like United Silver, United Gold offers complimentary upgrades to economy plus. The big difference is that you are offered this benefit at the time of booking (versus the time of check-in). 

Economy plus will only get you a little bit of extra leg room but it can make your flight a lot more comfortable if you’re on the taller side. You’ll be able to bring one companion along with you for the upgrade.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades

Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) are space-available, complimentary upgrades (to first/business) on select United and United Express operated flights.

You’ll have better odds at getting them as a Gold member than a Silver member since you’ll be higher on the totem pole but keep in mind that you’re still behind Global Services, 1K, and Premier Platinum.

One big difference from Silver is that you’ll get your CPU confirmed as early as 48 hours before check-in.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades are available on most United and United Express operated flights in the following regions:

  • Continental U.S.
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Central America
  • Caribbean
  • Oceania

You’ll be allowed to be upgraded when flying with a companion as well.

To increase your odds of getting upgraded consider trying to book your flight on a larger aircraft and avoid flying hub-to-hub if you can. Also, it’s a good idea to utilize your free same day changes for last-minute flights to “take control” of your upgrade odds.

Instant upgrades on Y- or B-class full-fare economy tickets

When you purchase full fare economy tickets, you’ll be eligible for instant upgrades.

Award miles bonus

You’ll earn 8 miles on the base fare compared to 7 miles for United Silver.

Premier levelEarn rate per $1
Premier Silver7X
Premier Gold8X
Premier Platinum9X
Premier 1K11X


Premier Priority Services

You’ll receive the full list of Premier priority services as a United Gold member.

Many of these perks are those you can get with a co-branded United card or with United Silver status so there not exactly huge benefits.

Still, they can make you life a little bit easier and more convenient when traveling so they are worth noting.

  • Priority check-in
  • Priority security screening, where offered
  • Priority boarding privileges
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Premier Priority Desk phone number: 1-800-225-8900
  • Access to most sold-out flights
  • Lounge access when traveling internationally (See below for more on this).
United Premier Access check-in area.

Luggage perks

As a Gold member, you’ll be able to check in 2 bags at 70 lbs. (32 kg) each.

Premier levelComplimentary checked bags in Economy, 70 lbs. (32 kg) Complimentary checked bags in premium cabin, 70 lbs. (32 kg)
Premier Silver13
Premier Gold23
Premier Platinum33
Premier 1K33

If you’re a frequent traveler who constantly needs to check-in multiple bags or one very heavy bag, this little perk could end up saving you a lot of money. Overweight luggage could end up costing you $100 to $200 so getting that increased weight allowance to 70 pounds could certainly add up over time.

To read more about the United luggage policy click here

Waived same-day flight changes

One of the great perks about Gold status is that you can get Waived same-day flight changes. (Silver members are charged $75 for their same day flight changes).

The requested flight must be departing within 24 hours from the time the request is made and can include any fare class, though you may be required to pay the difference in fare.

Below are all of the same-day change fees for the different elite levels.

Membership level
Service charges
MileagePlus non–Premier members $75
MileagePlus Premier Silver members $75
MileagePlus Premier Gold members $0
MileagePlus Premier Platinum and MileagePlus Premier 1K members
$0

Award travel benefits

United Premier Gold status will offer you a lot of benefits in the award travel department.

Priority award waitlisting

Premier members may waitlist for United Polaris first class, United First, United Business or United Polaris business class on flights operated by United and United Express.

As additional award seats become available, they will be allocated to Premier members first according to Premier status.

On most United Polaris first class and United Polaris business class flights, waitlists for premium cabin upgrades are not permitted within 24 hours prior to departure.

Waitlisted segments not confirmed on these flights 24 hours prior to departure are automatically added to the airport standby list at check-in.

Standby for international awards

Premier members who have used miles for award travel in United Polaris first class, United First or United Business, but can only confirm seats on some segments in United Economy, may stand by for the higher cabin at the airport within two hours of departure.

Premier members should simply notify the airport agent upon check-in.

For unused United Polaris first class or United Business awards, the mileage difference between United Economy and the higher cabin may be re-deposited free of charge. This benefit only applies to United Airlines flights.

Unrestricted access to United Everyday Awards & Better availability for United Saver Awards in economy

United offers enhanced inventory to its Premier members (and cardholders of the co-branded United credit cards). This makes it much easier to find awards and use your points so don’t undervalue this perk.

Reduced booking fee

  • $25 fee for booking a MileagePlus award ticket by phone through the United Customer Contact Center, regardless of departure date

Reduced or waived award change fee

  • $50 fee for making a change or canceling with redeposit 61 or more days before departure
  • $75 fee for making a change or canceling with redeposit 60 or fewer days before departure

Also, if you hold the United MileagePlus Explorer card, the primary cardmember who is also a MileagePlus Premier member traveling on a MileagePlus award ticket will be eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on eligible United-operated flights. Note that this only applies to the primary cardholder.


Star Alliance Gold benefits

MileagePlus Premier 1K, Premier Platinum, and Premier Gold members automatically have Star Alliance Gold status.

Star Alliance Gold offers worldwide recognition and travel benefits on all Star Alliance member airlines and the ability to earn Premier qualifying miles (PQM) and Premier qualifying segments (PQS) in the MileagePlus program when traveling to more than 1,100 destinations.

Lounge access

One of the big perks of United Gold is receiving Star Alliance Gold lounge access. This allows you lounge access even when flying economy subject to the restrictions below.

To get access as a United elite member: 

  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (departure airport can be different from that of the United Club location being entered)

OR

  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (departure airport can be different from that of the United Club location being entered)

You’ll be able to bring in one guest that must also be traveling on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport.

To get access as a Star Alliance member (other than United):

  • A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a same-day boarding pass for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport

OR

  • A same-day boarding pass showing Star Alliance Gold status, for travel on a flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline and departing from the same airport

This policy is a little strange because it means that Star Alliance Gold members get access to lounges operated by Star Alliance member airlines when departing on a Star Alliance flight, regardless of class of service traveled, which includes access to United Clubs.

But if you only have United Gold, you’ll need to be departing internationally to get United Club lounge access.

The work-a-round for domestic lounge access it to access the lounges of Star Alliance partners which you’ll have access to as a Star Alliance Gold Member. You might also look into status matches with Star Alliance partners to gain United Club access.

United Club Lounge at IAH.

United Gold Marriott status

United Premier Gold members get Gold status with Marriott with RewardsPlus.

With the new changes to Marriott Rewards, Marriott gold status isn’t quite as valuable as it once was but it’s still not the bottom-tier status so it’s nice to have some type of status.


Final word

United Gold status is a step up from Silver in that it offers you much more value in the benefits department.

The benefits that stick out to me are: lounge access, economy plus upgrades at booking, better odds with CPU upgrades (and earlier confirmation), the reduced and waived fees, and the larger luggage allowance.

With Gold status, it’s much easier to rack up value from the benefits since many of the perks above can add up in cost pretty quickly.

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