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United Airlines MileagePlus Program: The Complete Guide

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United Airlines is among the many largest airways within the U.S. and the world. It’s the dominant provider at O’Hare Worldwide in Chicago, and it operates home hubs in Houston, Newark, Denver, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles, Los Angeles and Guam.

If your house airport is a United stronghold, or if you happen to simply select to fly the provider commonly, you’ll wish to take a look at the airline’s frequent-flyer program, MileagePlus.

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How a lot United MileagePlus miles are value

Primarily based on our most up-to-date evaluation, NerdWallet values United MileagePlus miles at 0.eight cent apiece. To find out the worth of reward miles, we in contrast money costs and reward redemptions for economic system round-trip routes throughout a number of locations and dates. We divided the price of the money ticket by the price of the reward ticket to find out a “cent per mile” worth for every flight, then averaged this worth throughout a number of flights and dates. Learn extra about how we arrived at these figures.

That is subsequently a baseline worth for United miles, primarily based on real-world information collected from a whole lot of economic system routes, not a maximized worth. In different phrases, you need to goal for award redemptions that supply 0.eight cent or extra in worth out of your United miles.

To find out the worth of your miles for particular flights, divide the money worth of the ticket (much less any relevant taxes/charges if you happen to redeem miles) by the variety of miles required for the flight. So if the ticket would value both $100, or 15,000 miles + $10 in taxes/charges, the maths can be as follows:

($100 – $10) / 15,000 = 0.006, or 0.6 cent per mile.

Easy methods to earn MileagePlus miles

United Airlines’ frequent-flyer program makes use of a forex referred to as MileagePlus miles, which NerdWallet values at a median of 0.eight cent every. You earn miles if you fly on United or one in every of its associate airways, and you’ll redeem them for award flights. Though they’re referred to as miles, you earn them primarily based on how a lot cash you spend, not how far you fly.

You may earn further miles by spending cash with United’s companions or utilizing a United-branded bank card.

Incomes MileagePlus Miles When You Fly

The variety of miles you may earn for a flight is dependent upon how a lot you spent on the ticket and your standing degree throughout the MileagePlus program. All statuses above primary membership earn mile bonuses. For instance, the essential member rewards fee is 5 miles per greenback. However at Premier Silver degree, you earn a 40% bonus, which turns your fee into 7 miles per greenback. We’ll have extra on standing ranges beneath — or you may leap forward to that half now.

NOTE: You earn miles solely on airfare and airline charges. Authorities-imposed taxes and costs don’t earn miles. Typically, essentially the most you may earn on a ticket is 75,000 miles.

Incomes on different airways: When the ticket is issued by United (ticket quantity beginning with 016), you’ll earn miles primarily based on the price of the fare. But when your ticket is booked by way of one in every of United’s companions, miles are awarded primarily based on a calculation involving the value and sophistication of the ticket and the flight distance.


United Airlines affords co-branded bank cards by way of Chase.

NerdWallet’s favourite bank card for the MileagePlus program is the United℠ Explorer Card. It offers you 2 miles per greenback spent at eating places, on lodge stays and on purchases from United, and 1 mile per greenback on all different purchases. You get a terrific sign-up bonus to begin: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months your account is open. The annual charge is $Zero intro for the primary yr, then $95 — however the checked bag profit on this card could make up for it rapidly. The first checked bag is free for you and a companion touring in your reservation. You additionally get precedence boarding so you will get on the aircraft early and discover house for a carry-on bag.


  • Inns. You may earn further MileagePlus miles at most main lodge chains. In some circumstances, you earn 1 or 2 miles per greenback spent; in others, you earn a flat variety of miles per keep. See associate lodges and the incomes guidelines right here.

  • Eating. Register a bank card with MileagePlus Eating, and each time you employ that card at a taking part restaurant, membership or bar, you may earn as much as 5 miles per greenback spent. There are greater than 11,000 taking part areas.

  • Auto leases and different transportation. Hertz-owned rental businesses, together with Greenback and Thrifty, provide the choice to earn MileagePlus miles. See the foundations right here. Amtrak rail service and choose shuttles and automotive companies are additionally companions.

  • Purchasing. If you store on-line by way of the MileagePlus Purchasing mall, you earn miles for each greenback you spend at greater than 850 retailers.

  • Monetary companions. Earn miles when doing enterprise with lending and insurance coverage companions, amongst others. Particulars right here.


You should buy further miles by way of the MileagePlus web site, however that is typically not a good suggestion. You will pay excess of the 0.eight cent per mile at which NerdWallet values MileagePlus miles. Nonetheless, if you happen to want just a few thousand miles to high up your account for a useful award, it might make sense.

Easy methods to redeem MileagePlus miles

MileagePlus miles are redeemable for flights by way of United Airlines and its companions within the Star Alliance. Typically, you redeem by reserving by way of United’s web site. Select a flight, and you may see what the value is in money in addition to miles.


United Airlines affords a number of ranges of award seats, requiring extra miles for extra fascinating seats and cabins. They’re awarded as one-way flights, so if you happen to’re spending miles, you may have to use them to each the outbound and return flights individually.

Typically, there are two sorts of award redemptions:

  • Saver Awards seats are cheaper by way of miles required to e-book them — starting from 5,000 to 12,500 miles for home economic system, for instance. However they’re scarcer and won’t be accessible for the flight you need.

  • On a regular basis Awards seats are extra accessible than Saver Awards seats however require extra miles. Flyers with elite standing, which United calls Premier, and eligible holders of MileagePlus bank cards have unrestricted entry to e-book seats — even the final seat on the aircraft — on the On a regular basis Awards degree.

United discontinued its revealed award chart for flights on Nov. 15, 2019, and doesn’t have a set quantity of miles required for every flight anymore. You may typically count on that costs which can be cheaper with money can even be cheaper with miles. It’s all the time greatest to match the price of every earlier than reserving.

Observe that if you happen to pay for a flight with miles, you don’t earn frequent-flyer miles for that flight.


  • Free flights. As a result of we worth MileagePlus miles at a median of 0.eight cent every, redemptions that provide you with a minimum of that a lot worth are a good possibility. For instance, break-even can be a flight that prices $320 or 40,000 miles (40,000 miles * .008 per mile). If you happen to can e-book a $400 flight for 25,000 miles, that’s a very good use of miles (1.6 cents per mile).

  • Upgrades. Upgrading your seat to a premium class might be one other good use of miles as a result of doing so can return worth larger than 0.eight cent per mile. Some upgrades to enterprise or firstclass require fee within the type of a money co-pay in addition to miles. As with award seats, upgrades are primarily based on one-way flights. The worth of an improve is dependent upon the fare class of your present ticket — upgrading from a less expensive fare will typically value extra.


As a normal rule, redemptions at a worth decrease than 0.eight cent per mile aren’t good. Different redemption choices embody United Membership membership charges, lodge stays, automotive leases, cruises and reward playing cards. These choices have a tendency to supply a decrease worth than 0.eight cent per mile, so we advocate avoiding them.

MileagePlus program standing ranges

Anybody can join the MileagePlus program. It is free to affix. With primary membership, although, just about all you get is a frequent-flyer quantity and an account the place your factors accumulate. The actual goodies come if you earn elite standing. First, we’ll have a look at what you get on the 4 elite ranges of MileagePlus. Then we’ll have a look at what it takes to get there.


On United, elite statuses are referred to as Premier ranges. From lowest to highest, they’re Silver, Gold, Platinum and 1K.

With Premier statuses, you’ll qualify for mileage bonuses, seat upgrades, precedence check-in, complimentary checked baggage, higher award-seat availability, discounted and waived charges and different advantages. And if you happen to get Gold standing or higher, you’ll even have lounge entry when touring internationally. Right here’s a full listing of all of the perks you’ll obtain at every degree.

Observe that just a few of essentially the most useful perks of elite standing can be found by way of among the airline’s co-branded bank cards. They embody free checked luggage, precedence boarding, higher entry to award seats and even United Membership airport lounge entry.


To earn MileagePlus Premier elite standing, that you must do issues the airline cares about as a enterprise: fly typically, fly far and spend cash. This may earn you a mixture of Premier qualifying factors (PQPs) and Premier qualifying flights (PQFs). Here is a chart highlighting United’s latest modifications to this method:

  • PQPs are earned on the bottom fare, provider surcharges, economic system plus seats or subscriptions, most popular seat purchases, improve award co-pays, paid upgrades and flights ticketed and operated by Star Alliance companions.

  • A PQF is one flight. Every section flown (besides primary economic system) will depend as one PQF. Flights taken in primary economic system is not going to earn any PQFs.

You don’t want to trace all this math your self; United does that and shows it in your on-line MileagePlus account. However the chart beneath exhibits the way it works. United, like different airways, labels fare courses with letter codes. For instance, F is firstclass, Y is full-fare economic system and N is primary economic system. Your fare class for every flight section is displayed throughout reserving and when viewing a ticketed itinerary on

PQPs and PQFs are all credited to the particular person flying, not the particular person paying for the tickets. And if you happen to used frequent flyer miles to pay for a flight, you received’t earn any PQPs or PQFs.

Elite-Stage Necessities

To earn elite standing, you want a minimal variety of PQFs and PQPs or PQPs solely:

Since United can’t decide how a lot cash you spent on flights with Star Alliance companions, if you happen to selected to earn United miles on these flights, PQPs might be earned primarily based on an airline’s designation as a “Most well-liked” or “MileagePlus” associate:

Incomes Premier standing is predicated on flying and spending in the course of the earlier calendar yr. When you qualify for a Premier standing, it’s legitimate from the date you certified by way of the top of the next program yr. So, it might final greater than 12 months. For instance, if you happen to qualify for Premier Silver standing in June 2020, you’ll hold your standing by way of the rest of 2020 and all of 2021.

United Airlines switch companions

As of January 2020, the United Airlines web site identifies these as its associate airways.


On the whole, you may earn MileagePlus miles on flights with Star Alliance companions and redeem your miles for flights on Star Alliance airways.

  • All Nippon Airways (ANA).

  • Swiss Worldwide Airlines.

  • Thai Airways Worldwide.


On airways exterior the Star Alliance, your skill to earn and/or redeem miles is extra restricted. For instance, you might be able to earn miles however not redeem them, otherwise you might be able to redeem just for sure flights. Different associate airways embody:

Bank cards that earn MileagePlus miles

United Airlines co-branded bank cards are issued by Chase. Playing cards that earn MileagePlus miles embody:

  • 2 miles per greenback on eligible United Airlines purchases, lodge stays and at eating places.

  • 1 mile per greenback spent on different purchases.

  • Annual charge: $Zero intro for the primary yr, then $95.

  • four miles per greenback spent on United purchases.

  • 2 miles per greenback spent on eating.

  • 2 miles per greenback spent on all different journey.

  • 1 mile per greenback on all different purchases.

  • Annual charge: $Zero intro for the primary yr, then $525.

  • Earn 2 miles per greenback spent on eating places, fuel stations, workplace provides shops, transit and United purchases.

  • Earn 1 mile per greenback spent on all different purchases.

  • Annual charge: $Zero intro for the primary yr, then $99.

  • Earn 1.5 miles per greenback on each buy.

  • Earn 2 miles per greenback on United ticket purchases.

Want extra assist deciding?

The data associated to the United℠ Enterprise Card and United℠ TravelBank Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or offered by the issuer of this card.

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