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United Airlines MileagePlus® is United’s frequent flyer program. And with more than 250 U.S. destinations and 80 destinations abroad, United offers plenty of ways to earn and redeem.
Your United miles never expire, and you can use them to cover the cost of trips plus perks like free baggage check, seat upgrades and more.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can maximize earning and redeeming MileagePlus miles.
How to earn United Airlines MileagePlus points
While you can earn MileagePlus points by flying with United or its partners — or through eligible hotel stays, vacation rentals, car rentals and cruises — the best way to earn miles is by using a United Airlines credit card.
Here are some of our top picks.
- United Gateway℠ Card: Best for commuters
- United℠ Explorer Card: Best for getting perks
- United Quest℠ Card: Best for optimizing MileagePlus points
- United Club℠ Infinite Card: Best for luxury travelers
United Gateway℠ Card: Best for commuters
For travelers who want to earn United miles for commuting and everyday spending, United’s entry-level credit card, the United Gateway℠ Card, may be a good fit.
The card has a $0 annual fee and offers a sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases during the first 3 months after account opening.
The United Gateway℠ Card offers two miles per $1 spent on United purchases, as well as on commuter spending categories like gas stations, taxis, rideshare, mass transit and local transit options. Plus, you’ll earn one mile for every $1 spent on everyday purchases.
You’ll also get 25% back on purchases you make in flight — including Wi-Fi, food and drinks. And if you’re traveling abroad, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees.
Check out our review of the United Gateway℠ Card to learn more.
United℠ Explorer Card: Best for getting perks
If you’re looking for more rewards and extras, the United℠ Explorer Card could be a good fit.
When you sign up for the card, you can earn 60,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases during your first 3 months. The card has a $0 intro, then $95 after first year.
You’ll get two complimentary United Club℠ passes each year, free checked baggage, priority boarding and 25% back on in-flight purchases. There are also no foreign transaction fees and you’ll get access to exclusive cardholder experiences and complimentary perks at luxury hotels.
Cardholders don’t have to worry about blackout dates and can earn up to 1,000 qualifying miles toward Premier status each calendar year. Plus, you’ll get two miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining and hotels, and one mile for every other $1 you spend.
United Quest℠ Card: Best for maximizing MileagePlus points
The United Quest℠ Card was built for frequent travelers who want to maximize their United travel rewards. With this card, you get an annual United purchase credit of up to $125, plus two 5,000-mile anniversary award credits.
The annual fee is $250. If you spend $4,000 on purchases during the first 3 months you have the card, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles and 500 Premier qualifying points.
With the United Quest℠ Card, you’ll earn three miles per $1 spent on United purchases, two miles per $1 spent on all other travel purchases, as well as dining and select streaming services. All other purchases earn one mile per $1. Cardholders will also get two free checked bags.
United Club℠ Infinite Card: Best for luxury travelers
If traveling in comfort and style is your aim, the United Club℠ Infinite Card is a great luxury option. The card charges an annual fee of $525. New cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus of 80,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases during the first 3 months after account opening.
Most importantly, this card comes with United Club membership, giving you access to United Club locations — and participating Star Alliance™ affiliated airport clubs worldwide.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card rounds out its offering with four miles per $1 spent on United purchases, two miles per $1 spent on other travel and dining, and one mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. You’ll also get two complimentary checked bags.
Plus, this card comes with other useful perks: You’ll get reimbursement for a Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or Nexus membership, as well as 25% back for in-flight Wi-Fi, food and beverage purchases. And you’ll have access to priority security screening, check-in and boarding.
How to redeem United Airlines MileagePlus points
United Airlines MileagePlus miles are worth an estimated 2.18 cents each, based on Credit Karma’s point valuations. Here are a few tips to consider if you’re looking to maximize your miles.
1. Book a stopover on your next international flight
United Airlines’ “Excursionist” perk is a free stop-over nestled within an international travel reservation. This is a great program that can help your rewards miles go further and take you to more destinations.
2. Transfer rewards from Chase
If you have one of Chase’s Sapphire credit cards, you can pool your Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them over to the United MileagePlus program at a 1:1 rate. Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
3. Catch a limited-time flight award deal
If you’re flexible on dates and locations, United offers limited-time flight award promotions. These discounted fares can be a great way to stretch your rewards miles much further than typical redemptions options may allow.
4. Upgrade your seats
Upgrading your ticket can be a solid way to use points to squeeze a bit more comfort into your trip. The number of points required for an upgrade varies on the route, seat type, fare class and Premier status.
5. Use your points with one of United’s travel partners
In addition to booking flights with United, you can also use your United miles with a variety of United’s travel partners. United is part of the Star Alliance, meaning you can earn and use miles with any Star Alliance partners, including major airlines like Air New Zealand, ANA and Lufthansa.
Beyond air travel, you can also use United miles to book car rentals, hotel stays and even cruise ships through the United Airlines website portal.
If you want more out of your United miles, achieving MileagePlus Premier status will help you get more perks. With elite status you’ll get access to benefits like complimentary seat upgrades, pre-boarding and complimentary bag check. Plus, you’ll earn more miles on every flight.
Learn more about what each elite tier offers in our guide to United Airlines MileagePlus Premier status.