As the year draws to the close, I find myself in a paradoxical position: top-tier United 1K status is within reach, yet hopelessly distant.
I’ve racked up over 86,000 EQM this year and I’m on my next trip this week. With little effort, I can easily clear 100K miles by the year’s end.
On the surface, that is enough for 1K status, valuable for its complimentary upgrades, award re-deposits and generally superior customer service.
But I’ve got a big problem: 1K requires $12,000 in annual spending and I am not even close. Not even close…
Why so low? Obviously (even with “mistake” fares) I’ve spent more than $2,800. In fact, if you add everything up I may even be approaching the $12,000 threshold.
But United only counts the dollar value of tickets earned on its own ticket stock. Thus, for example, my 4000EUR trip to Germany earlier this year issued on Lufthansa earned a lot of miles, but no dollar credit toward elite re-qualifcation.
Settle for Platinum?
I’ve got another problem. Much of my travel has been ad hoc this year and thus my January forecast for year-end travel was far lower than it turned out.
United offers a spending waiver (up to Platinum status) if you put at least $25,000 on a United-branded card from Chase.
Waiver aside, I have little incentive to do that thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. That card is a far more valuable in terms of earning points and those points can even be transferred to United.
Therefore, I could conceivably do some manufactured spending to put $20K on my card before year’s end, but that seems rather draconian for the incremental benefits between Gold and Platinum. If I want first class, I buy first class…relying on upgrades is too dicey in this era of cheap paid fares.
Change of Address?
One “trick” would just be to change my address. Those outside the USA are exempt from the minimum spending requirement.
But that’s not as easy as just updating my profile on united.com.
United verifies new addresses and threatens to shut down MileagePlus accounts who use the non-USA address exemption to skirt minimum spending requirements without having a valid overseas address.
My case is different. I have a bonafide residence in Germany and spend extended periods there each year. In fact, I’d like to spend a lot more time in Germany next year.
So there’s always that. But there are downsides, such as promotions available only to USA-based flyers.
Despite racking up nearly 100K United elite miles by year’s end, it looks like I’ll be stuck with Gold status for 2018. Even that would not be possible without my lifetime MillionMiler status thanks to United’s steep minimum spending requirement coupled with counting only United-issued tickets.
Is there anything I am missing? Would you change addresses, noting that it would actually be a legitimate address change?