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United MileagePlus Presidential Plus Card

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The United Presidential Plus Card is a legacy card from United that is no longer being offered to new applications. However, existing holders can still keep and use the card. Many folks still want to read a review of this card because one of the most frequent question we get asked is whether it make sense to get rid of this card and get the new United Club Infinite Card. Both cards share many similar features but both also have some unique features as well. In this review, we will dive into this card in great detail and at the end, it will be much clearer to you if you should keep this card or swap it for the latest United card.

How You Earn Miles

Here is how you can earn United Miles with this card:

  • Earn 2X on United Purchases - 2X includes airline tickets purchased from United, and on the following purchases made from United: seat upgrades; Economy Plus®; inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi; baggage service charges or other United fees.

    Opinion: 2X is actually pretty mediocre for a premium airline credit card. Even the old United MileagePlus Select Card allows you to earn 3X on United purchases and also 2X on Star Alliance purchases. The new United Club Infinite allows you to earn 4X on United purchases and is giving every other United card a real run for their money in this aspect.

  • Earn 2X on Hotel Purchases Directly with hotels and Car Rentals - The most important thing is that you will only earn 2X if you book hotels directly with the hotels (not through any third party sites).

    Opinion - This is pretty decent although the United Club Card lets you earn 2X on travel (Chase definition is pretty broad). The Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) also allows you to earn 3X on travel and you can transfer those points to United miles. In this sense, 2X on hotels and car rentals is Ok but not great. The United MileagePlus Select (which is another legacy card) is even better for earning miles (3X on United and Star Alliance Purchases and 2X on gas stations, groceries, restaurants and home improvement stores).

Helping to Earn Elite Status

Here is how spending on this card can help you earn Elite Status with United.

  • Old Flex PQM - Prior to 2020, the Presidential Plus allowed you to earn Flexible PQMs (which you could save and do not have to use it the same year) to help you get Premier Status (under the old qualification criteria). However, going forward in 2020, the Premier Qualification have changed to PQFs and PQPs.

    Existing cardholders are wondering what will happen to their Flex PQMs. Well, according to the United website, you can convert Flex PQMs to Flex PQPs at a rate of 5:1. That means that for example 5,000 Flex PQMs can be converted to 1,000 Flex PQPs. Card holders were sent an email to asking if they wanted to convert to apply to 2019 qualifications for the year 2020 and were given from 1 Jan 2020 to 31 March 2020 to convert. Card holders who do not convert by then will have their existing Flex PQMs converted to Flex PQPs from 1st April 2020 at the same rate of 5:1.

  • Earn up to 10,000 PQP - You can earn 500 PQP if you spend $12,000 on the card. This card allows you to earn up 10,0000 PQPs a year. The PQPs you earn can count towards helping you earn 1K Premier Status.

    Opinion - This is the best United credit card for helping you earn status. From 2020 onwards, you can earn Premier Membership with a combination of PQF (Premier Qualifying Flights) and PQPs (Premier Qualifying Points - which is really based on ticket prices and spending). Or you could earn Premier status solely from PQPs. For Premier Silver level, you need 5,000 PQPs along and for Premier Gold, you need 10,000 PQPs alone.

    This means that just based on credit card spending alone, you could actually earn enough PQPs for Gold status (though you need to spend $240,000 to earn 10,000 PQPs). In contrast, both the United Explorer Card and the Club Infinite only allow you to earn up to 1,000 PQPs and they can only be used to get you up to Premier Platinum level (not 1K). Whether you fee it is worth spending that amount just to earn those PQPs is another matter altogether.

  • Update - Due to the Covid19 Pandemic, United now allow Explorer Card Holders to earn up to 2,000 PQPs (up from 1,000) and Club Infinite holders to earn up to 3,000 PQPs. However, these PQPs are can only be used up for up to Platinum Premier status.

Benefits Premier Members Do Not Have

I will now list the benefits of the card that Premier members do not have. I prefer to split them up this way so Premier Elite members can see whether the perks on the card add to what they already have.
  • United Club Lounge Membership - United Premier Status members do not have automatic club lounge access. Like the United Club Infinite Card, this card also offers card holders a United Club Membership.

    Opinion - The United Club Membership alone makes up for the annual fee of this card. That is because a membership costs $650 or 85,000 miles for general members, Silver and Gold Elite members. It cost $600 a year or 80,000 miles for Platinum Premier members. For 1K or United Global Services member, it will cost $550 or 75,000 miles. You can bring either 2 adult guest or one adult and a dependent child less than 21 years old (this rule is the same if you actually bought a Club Membership yourself).

  • Upgrading Award Tickets - If you are a Premier Elite member, you are eligible for complimentary seat upgrades. But these only applied to certain classes of paid tickets. However, if you are a Premier elite member and have this card, you are eligible for upgrades even on award tickets. So this benefit applies only to Premier Elite members. Those who are not Premier members (ie no elite status) cannot enjoy this benefit.

Benefits Premier Members Already Have

  • 2 Free Checked Bags - Card members will get 2 free checked bags for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion. This benefit is irrelevant if you are a Premier Gold status member (and above) because you get 2 free checked baggages along with along your companions taking the same flight as you. Premier Silver members also get 1 free checked bag. The allowance for elite members is 32kg/70lbs (which is the allowance for business class and above). For the two free checked bags cardholders get, the allowance weight depends on whether you are traveling economy or business class. If you have no Premier status, the weight of your check-in baggage will be lower than if you flew business class.

  • Premier Access - Premier Access include benefits like priority access lines for check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling. This is actually be purchased for $15 for a flight. I seriously doubt anyone really cares about this benefit. You can always do online check-in and just get to the airport earlier enough to check-in your baggage. And if you have Global Entry, you should get in the shorter security lines anyway. One of the perks of Premier Access is that you can board with Zone 2 line. (as mentioned above)

  • Award Availability - If you have Premier Elite Status, more award tickets are available to you. Even if there is just one seat left on a flight, you would be able to use book it via award tickets (ie use miles). This benefit is given to holders of this card. So once again, if you have Elite Status in United Mileage Plus, this perk is not relevant to you. This perks is also available on the United Explorer Card.

  • Complimentary Herts Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle Membership - This is Hertz top tier elite status.

    Opinion - Premier Platinum and Premier 1K status members already get Complimentary Herts Gold Rewards Plus Presidential Circle Membership. So this perks is irrelevant to these members. Premier Silver and Gold status members get Herts Gold Rewards Plus Five Star membership (which is one tier below the Presidential Circle).


One of the interesting feature of this card is that different cardholders might have different annual fees. I'll explain this below.

  • Annual Fee (1): $450 - The annual used to be $395. Some are still paying this annual fee in 2020. Others have had theirs increased to $450.

  • Annual Fee (1): $100 - There are some holders who only have to pay $100 in annual fee because they have purchased lifetime membership to United's Club Lounge (which was offered ages ago)

  • No Foreign Transaction Fee - A very common feature with travel cards and expected of a premium credit card.

Travel and Shopping Benefits

  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation
  • Baggage delay insurance - up to $3000.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement - The required length of delay is 6 hour. You will be reimbursed for up to $100/day for three days.
  • Trip delay reimbursement - The required hours to be considered a trip delay is 12 hours and coverage is maximum of $500 per ticket.
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver - Chase CDW waiver insurance can be used in all countries
  • Purchase protection - $10,000 per claim with a $50,000 claim per year.
  • Extended warranty protection - extension period of 1 year with maximum initial warranty of up to 3 years.

Comparison with United Club Infinite Card

Holders of this card is always faced with the decision of whether to keep the card or to switch to the United Club Infinite. There are a few differences which make the decision a little trickier. I will focus on three main differences below.

The key highlight of the Presidential Plus is the fact that you can earn up to 10,000 PQPs ($12,000 in spend gets you 500 PQPs. So you beed to spend $240,000 to get the full 10,000 PQPs). The PQPs you earn with the Presidential Plus can be used to qualify for 1K Premier. In contrast, the Club Infinite only allows you to earn up to 1,000 PQPs that can only be used to help qualify up to Premier Platinum rather than 1K Premier level.

Another huge difference between the cards is that you can earn 4X on United's purchases with the Club Infinite vs only 2X with the Presidential Plus. If you plan on earning United Miles through credit card spend, the Club Infinite is definitely the best United card for that.

Another difference between the two cards is that the Club Infinite will give you a statement credit for the application fee of Global Entry or TSA Pre-check if you use the card (at the moment, the application fee is $100 and Global Entry for 5 years). This feature is common in many travel cards and I do not think this will be a factor in deciding whether to keep the Presidential or switch to the Club Infinite.

More In Depth Comparison: United Club Infinite vs Presidential Plus

United Presidential Plus - Keep, Switch or Cancel?

For those of you who have this card, you will have gone through lots of changes throughout the years from having Avis status to Hertz and having the rules of earning elite status change because of changes in the United Mileage Plus program itself. For 2020, the rules for Elite qualification has changed from requiring PQFs, PQMs and PQDs to just PQF/PQPs or just standalone PQPs. And now, your Flexible PQMs will be automatically converted to Flex PQPs.

Keep If Earning PQPs from Credit Card Spending is Important

The decision to keep this card depends solely on how important earning PQPs through credit spending are for you. If you are a Premier member but are not assured to either status or your preferred status every year, then you should keep this card since it is the best card for earning PQPs for Premier Status.

For example, if you are sure you fly enough to Platinum Premier status with the new qualification criteria, then earning extra PQPs with this card might bump you up to 1K Premier, then this card is worth keeping. Off course, it only makes sense if you are naturally a high spender on your credit card.

Keep If You Only Pay $99 Annual Fee

Those of you who are lucky enough to have the lifetime Club Lounge Membership (good old Red Carpet Club back in those days) and are paying $99 annual fee should consider keeping this card. Even if you do not need PQPs at the moment, it might come in handy in the future.

Switch - 1K Premier Who Do Not Need PQPs Through Card Spending

If you fly enough to definitely qualify for 1K, then the ability to earn PQPs on card spending is irrelevant. In this situation, it might make sense to switch to the new United Club Infinite Card, which allows you to earn 4X on United Purchases.

Cancel - If You Have Achieved Million Miler Status

If you have achieved your Million Mile Status, then you might not need this card (or any United card for that matter).

Cancel - If The New Qualifications Does Not Work For You and If You Do Not Spend Enough To Earn Enough PQPs

If the new Premier Qualifications does not work for your flying patterns and you do not spend (or do not want to spend) enough to earn enough PQPs, then perhaps it is time to seriously consider whether you should just ditch this card. Having said that, if you are paying $99 annual fee for the card, I would still keep it.