I’m going to write about United PQP, now that it’s totally irrelevant

Hello, I know, I never call, I never write. Well, hi again. First off, I’ve had the odd post here and there but my mail notification thingamajig stopped working so scroll back and maybe you’ll find some outdated nugget of wisdom. Or stupidity. Probably stupidity.

Ok, so, this post is about United’s new loyalty scheme, in which PQD and PQM are replaced with PQP. Who gives a fuck, you ask? Since we’re never going to fly again? Since we’ll all be dead from Covid-19? Where’s your sense of whimsy, brother? Or sister. Either.

Here’s the story: United decided they don’t really care how far you fly. They only care about how much you spend. They like your money, they want you to travel last minute short hops all the time for business, back when there was business. They don’t give a fuck that you found a cheap fare to fuck knows where on the other side of the world. I can sort of not blame them, though I can still hate them, because I’ll be lucky to make Silver ever again, much less Gold. Fuck you, United. Though I still love you. Though I can’t say why. I guess this is what abusive relationships are all about.

If you’re enough of a trickster and money means nothing to you, the new scheme lets you even buy your way all the way to 1K. Not for cheap, though. Wait, I’ll explain.

But, before I continue, let me just say that if you *don’t* have United status, and you want it for next year, or you want to bump a level (e.g. Silver to Gold, which is meaningful), this is a golden moment for you. Sort of. Considering you can’t actually fly without risk of catching or spreading a potentially lethal disease. Can’t have everything!

But, fuck it. I’m stir crazy and I feel like explaining it. Among the many things United has done in the last week is extend existing status through January 2022. And, if you’re insane enough to be chasing status this year, they’ve cut the requirements in half. So everything I say here, cut in half.

Ok, so. It used to be that you had to fly X number of miles (or Z number of segments) and spend Y number of dollars to make Silver, Gold, Platinum, or 1K. And you could waive the spending requirement, up to Platinum only, by spending $25K on most United branded credit cards.

In the new world, you just need to spend P number of dollars. P as in PQP, Premier Qualifying Points. You earn 1 PQP when you spend $1.00 on United. It can be anything — Economy Plus subscription, seat upgrade, in flight snacks (remember those?), baggage, who cares. You spend a buck, you get a point. And flying in biz class won’t help you as it did before with by earning 150% or 200% over economy — it’s still 1 PQP per dollar spent. You’ll earn more than you would in economy, but only because the ticket costs more.

When you have spent either $4,000 and flown 12 segments, or spent $5,000 outright, you make Silver. Double those ($8,000 + 24, or $10,000) for Gold, triple them ($12,000 + 36, or $15,000) for Platinum. For 1K, you need to spend $18,000 and fly 54 segments, or spend $24,000 outright. (And when I say outright, that actually means a minimum 4 segments flown.)

And all that’s cut in half right now. Because coronavirus.
What about credit cards? Welp, if you spend $12,000, you get 500 PQP. This replaces the $25,000 PQD waiver. Yay? Not really, because all the commonly available cards have a 1,000 per year PQP cap. Boo. Spending $24,000 will get you 20% of the way to Silver. Weak.

But that’s when things were good. Now we have coronavirus. So, if you have a card that costs around $95 per year (like the Explorer), you now have a cap of 2,000 PQP per year, and if you have a card that costs around $450 or more per year (like the Club), your cap is 4,000 PQP per year.

So, if you’re a big spender or an MS’er, you can, right now, get a Club card, spend $60,000 on it, and bang, you’re Silver. Or spend $96,000, and get an Explorer and spend $12,000 on it, and you’re Gold. Repeat as necessary until you reach 1K. I didn’t say it’s smart, I’m just saying you can do it.

The other way to get PQP without flying is to buy them. United periodically has sales they email you about, at punitive rates, but it’s arguably better now because their old PQM sales were even worse because they didn’t earn PQD. Now there are no PQD. And maybe they’ll lower their prices because they need money. Or maybe they’ll go out of business. Who knows?

You can also buy PQP as part of Premier Accelerator, which, if you’ve already got some kind of status, is offered as an upsell to Award Accelerator, which in turn is offered as upsell once you’ve booked a ticket somewhere. What happens if you book a refundable ticket, buy award miles and PQP, and then refund the ticket? The award miles and PQP aren’t attached actually to the ticket, so probably nothing. Though you did buy the ticket in bad faith, so shame on you. And you may need to do it more than once, because you don’t have any control over what amount Accelerator offers, so double shame.

Whatever number of award miles you get offered, the accompanying total PQP offer will be around 15% of that. The PQP are sold at around $0.95 each, though you also have to buy award miles along with them, at $0.025 each. So, if ya do the math, you could just buy $23,400 worth of PQP (which would also include around 160,000 award miles), fly four segments, and be a 1K. Or $4,875 for Silver, or $9,750 for Gold, or $14,625 for Platinum. Whatever. The whole premise is stupid, because for that kind of scratch you could just buy biz class tickets, and then who needs status. Oh, you, if you actually need to call anyone at the airline without waiting a billion hours. (It’s actually cheaper to buy the PQP via Accelerator than to buy a ticket and do a status run, and you don’t have to fly anywhere.)

Now cut that all in half in 2020, because coronavirus. You still gotta fly four segments though. If you haven’t done that yet this year, how do you feel about that? Is Premier status worth dying for? That’s a question only you can answer.

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