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.
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.
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.
- Visit the MileagePlus website and log in to your account.
- Scroll down and click Buy or transfer miles.
- Scroll down and click Transfer miles to another member.
- 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.
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.
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.
If you’re interested in earning more United MileagePlus miles, you may want to consider one of the credit cards below. They can help you earn enough miles to redeem for a United flight.
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.
What’s the best use of United miles?
Booking flights is the best use of your miles. According to our current valuations, you can get between 1.4 cents and 3 cents per mile in value.
Are there other ways to earn United miles besides flying with the airline or using a United credit card?
Consider a general travel card that allows point transfers to the airline. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two excellent options. You can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio.
The Citi Prestige® Credit Card is another great choice, offering 5x points on air travel. By transferring points to Star Alliance carriers Avianca, Air Canada or Singapore Airlines, you can book United-operated flights.
Should I get a cobranded United card?
If you’re a frequent flyer on the airline, it might make sense to get one of these cards. You might also want a cobranded card for perks like priority boarding and free checked baggage. If those don’t interest you, you might get more out of a general travel card.