Pondering United Premier Platinum Over Gold for 2014

“To Plat or not to Plat, that is the question.†I started pondering this last night after updating my mileage spreadsheet to see that after flying what I have booked for the rest of the year, I’ll be about 11,000 miles short of Premier Platinum next year.

I had long resigned myself not to go for Premier 1K anymore, much prior to United’s new Premier Qualifying Dollar requirement that was announced. Lifetime Gold was going to be perfectly sufficient for my future travels after hitting million-miler this year, but then I starting thinking about my flying plans in 2014.

Whether or not to strive for a higher (or any) elite status really comes down to two considerations:

  1. Your planned flying in the following calendar year; and
  2. Would the value of benefits earned with higher status exceed the cost to get them.

And that second part is enormously relative to the individual considering this question, so a hard answer of yes or no ends up being a very personal decision.

While I determine what to do, I thought I’d at least post about it now while I’m in my thinking phase, as you might be in a similar position. And with a little more than four months of status-chasing time left in the year, it’s a perfect time to do so.

First, here’s a breakdown of Premier Gold versus Platinum MileagePlus benefits:

a screenshot of a blue and white tablea screenshot of a document The benefits of most value to me, given my 2014 travel assumption that the majority of my United/Star Alliance flying will be award redemptions, are as follows:

  • Phone service fee: While you can (and I do 95% of the time) accomplish most everything online yourself, Premier Plats have no fee whereas Golds are dinged $25. I doubt this particular benefit will factor in much, but it’s something I need to consider.
  • Premium cabin award availability: Platinums and above receive enhanced award availability by means of dedicated fare buckets in premium cabins. Having this perk this year saved me 25,000 miles on an award when the normal fare bucket didn’t offer availability. It was the exception, though, as I normally see both buckets at the same inventory level.
  • Close-in award booking fee: As I typically redeem miles for international premium cabins, many Star Alliance partners don’t open up space until days before departure, so it would cost me $25 for each ticket as a Gold, but free as a Plat.
  • Award redeposit fee: I tend to use this benefit a lot, and the $100 fee for Golds is pretty steep. The no-fee perk for Plats is huge here.
  • Award change fee: Similar to the close-in booking fee, I’d save $25 for each change to an award ticket as a Plat, another benefit I’ve used extensively in the past.

Other notable benefits at the Platinum level that are strong cases to go for it include earning Regional Premier Upgrades, 25% more redeemable miles on paid tickets and higher upgrade priority. But again, the decision to obtain a certain status depends on the two considerations I mentioned above. So for my planned flying next year, they’re not motivating factors at this point.

I’ll be crunching the numbers during the coming days and will follow-up with a new post outlining my decision in the future.

Are you in a similar “should I or shouldn’t I†situation? What is your 2014 elite status goal?

– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.


United Adds Spend Requirement for Elite Status in 2014

List and Description of All United Airlines Fare Classes

My United Airlines Mileage Tracking Spreadsheet, Round Two

How to Find Mileage Runs: 2013 Edition


  1. I started to fly late in July this year.. and I should be hitting gold in first week of november based on segments flown..therefore I dont think i will be able to hit plat this year 🙁

  2. I’m in a somewhat similar boat – but I think I’m a bit too far to stretch. It looks like I’ll end this year at ~84K PQMs. Comfortably in the Plat zone, but too far to stretch to 1K again I think.

    • @Food Wine and Miles: That’s “only” 16K PQMs away from 1K, though! 😉 With my travel patterns and the increasingly difficult ability to use GPUs, I’d be happy with Plat in your position.

  3. i Have seen no indication thst IN or RN has greater availability that I or R. I think this benefit has gone the way of the dodo this year. The biggest benefit to me is the capacity to change reward tix frequently, esp close in.

  4. I am also looking at this. I have status now and am about 11,000 short of gold and enough “flexible” points I could go to Gold (from my old Continental President Club credit card) but am considering how much (if any) to transfer to get over the hump.

    • @Patrick: It’s great that you have the CO President Club card with that option.
      @Nevafazeme: Congrats on holding Gold for the first time! I’m glad you found this post useful… definitely calculate/consider the outlay of cash/time/opportunity if you decide to go for Platinum.

  5. Thank you for this glimpse into your thought process with regards to going for Platinum or not. I’m in the same boat right now. I reached Gold for the first time in July (currently 53K PQM). Still plenty of time to go for Plat. I planned on flying mostly award tickets for the remainder of the year and into the first quarter of next year, but I just don’t know yet…

  6. Hi Darren,
    Thanks so much for your post. I am in a similar position, hit gold in April, but haven’t done much travel the rest of the year. I will get to about 63,000 miles with current planned trips. I am thinking of whether to try for platinum and even doing a mileage run to Asia to hit 1K. It is insane, but I am trying to decide what is worth it. I know it is a personal decision, as you outlined in your post, but I’d love to get 1K and get all the benefits, especially considering the new 2014 requirements are so much more exclusive. But, any thoughts on how much it is ‘worth’ to get plat or 1k?
    Thanks so much!

    • @Shana: It would really come down to how much you plan to travel next year. 1K can be a great status if your planned flying will include a few international trips on United, where you have the chance to use Global Premier Upgrades. And, of course, the 100% bonus mileage over 75% for Plat (or 50% for Gold) is nice. But like I mentioned, it’s really a personal decision. I know other people who are going for 1K even without fully considering their travel next year, and those who go for it every year just to have it, so I’d certainly understand if you do too. For me, it’s just not worth it anymore.

  7. I decided to purchase 27K PQM’s this year as opposed to taking a grueling mileage run. I simply booked the itineraries on United.com, then purchased the PQM’s, then cancelled the itinerary for full refunds. So now I’ll hit the 100K with my existing planned trips between now and the end of the year, thus locking in 1K for yet another year. This time not having to fly from R/T from Honolulu to Frankfurt for lunch. Yes it’s a bit more expensive in terms of $$’s, but a lot less taxing on the body, not to mention the time necessary to dedicate to the mileage runs themselves.

  8. Speaking from personal experience, I dropped from 1K to Gold this year, knowing that my travel pattern will be reduced. For the most part, since I try to find available upgrade space for the longer flights at the time of booking, confirming upgrades using miles have not been an issue.

    However, it sucks to be in Group 2 line, especially with all the credit card holders. Not having GPU or RPU means that I’m draining my miles much faster. Also, there is a mileage redeposit fee with Gold, that’s $100/pop.

    • @ptahcha: Thanks for your experience. It’s that $100 fee and the $25 close-in award booking fee that has me still looking for cheap mileage runs to at least hold Plat next year. That said, if I can’t get the ~11k PQMs needed for less than $500 all-in, I’m settling with Gold.

  9. This is very useful. I’m in the same position. I’ll be 5k short Platinum by the end of this year but I’m based in Europe and Gold already gets me into the Lounges. I’m toying with the idea of doing a miles run from Bxl to DC but I just don’t know if Plat makes that much difference if one is Europe based!

    • @Michael: I’m glad that you found this useful! I’d be in a tough spot being only 5K away, as being Stateside, I could probably get that for <$200 all-in.

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