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How to transfer United miles to a spouse

Transfers are simple but expensive. Avoid them when possible.

Updated

Fact checked

It might make sense to transfer your United rewards to your spouse if they need a few extra miles to book an award flight. You’ll get a poor value for your rewards when you transfer, however. If your spouse needs a large number of miles, consider booking the award flight under their name.

Rules for transferring United miles

Transferring United miles is straightforward but expensive: You’ll pay $7.50 per 500 United miles transferred, plus a processing fee of $30 per transaction.

Transfers between 500 and 5,000 miles are allowed in increments of 500. Transfers between 5,000 and 100,000 miles are allowed in increments of 1,000.

Other rules for transferring United miles

  • You can transfer up to 100,000 miles per calendar year from one account.
  • Transfers may take up to 48 hours to complete.
  • Payments are non-refundable.

How to transfer United miles to your spouse or another person

There are many ways to earn United miles, including flying with the airline and using United cobranded credit cards. But you may have excess miles you’d like to give to transfer to someone else. Here’s how to do it.

    1. Visit the MileagePlus website and log in to your account.

    1. Scroll down and click Buy or transfer miles.

    1. Scroll down and click Transfer miles to another member.

  1. Select the number of miles you want to transfer. Then enter your recipient’s name, MileagePlus number and email address. Verify the fees you’ll pay, then click Continue to proceed with your transfer.

Should you transfer United miles to another person?

While mile transfers are sometimes useful, you should generally avoid them. Perhaps the best reason you might transfer miles is to help someone if they’re short a few for an award flight.

Why mile transfers are usually a bad deal

A transfer fee of $7.50 per 500 miles works out to a cost of 1.5 cents per mile. According to our current valuations, United miles are generally worth up to 1.4 cents each.

This means a transfer may essentially erase the value of your miles. Normally, 500 miles are worth up to $7. But if you’re paying $7.50 to transfer them, the transaction is already a wash. And that’s not including the processing fee, which puts you further in the red.

For example, check out how much it costs to transfer 1,000 miles:

1,000 United miles are worth around $14. Yet you’re paying $45 to transfer them, which means you’re losing
$31 in value
.

Pro tip

If your spouse, family member or friend needs a significant number of miles, consider just booking the award flight for them under their name. This way, you’ll avoid losing the value of your miles.

Our pick for a United credit card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $95.
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2x miles on United purchases, hotel stays and restaurant purchases.
  • Credit every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • 25% back as statement credit on United inflight purchases. Plus, priority boarding and your first checked bag free on United-operated flights.
  • 2 United Club one-time passes each card anniversary.
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See Rates & Fees

Compare United credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
United℠ Explorer Card
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
16.49% to 23.49% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
United Club℠ Infinite Card
4x miles on United purchases, 2x miles on travel and dining and 1x miles on all other purchases
16.49% to 23.49% variable
$525
Get United Club membership with access for you and two guests at any United Club or Star Alliance lounge -- a value of up to $650 annually.
United℠ Business Card
2x miles on United, transit and rideshares, and at gas stations, office supply stores and restaurants, and 1x miles on all other purchases
16.49% to 23.49% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 60,000 miles once after spending $3,000 in your first 3 months.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See terms
See issuer's website
See terms
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
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Bottom line

You’ll lose value when transferring United miles. However, you might do it for one key reason: If someone is very close to having enough miles for an award flight. If the gulf is a lot wider, consider booking the award flight for them.

If you don’t yet have a card and want to start accumulating miles, compare United credit cards or other travel credit cards to find the option best for you.

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