Guide to the United MileagePlus program | finder.com

United MileagePlus program

A way for loyal United flyers to earn reasonable rewards for future travel perks.

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United Airlines miles offers customers a way to redeem their loyalty for such perks as flights, gift cards and hotel stays. Like many rewards programs, the strongest value of award miles comes in the form of flight redemptions. And a partnership with Star Alliance airlines means you can put your points toward a wide variety of destinations.

How much are United miles worth?

Based on our March 2019 valuation, United miles are worth between 1 cent and 1.4 cents each, depending on what you’re redeeming them on.

Do United miles expire?

Yes. Generally, miles expire if you don’t use or earn them through MileagePlus or a United partner within 18 months.

An exception is the United MileagePlus Club Card. Miles earned through your card don’t expire, and there’s no cap on how many you can earn.

How do I earn United miles?

You can earn miles with MileagePlus in two main ways:

  • Fly with United Airlines or Star Alliance partners as a MileagePlus member.
  • Use a United cobranded credit card for purchases.

If you’re looking for a way to kick off your United miles collection, check out the United MileagePlus® Club card from Chase. You’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account. This is on top of free entry to United Club membership — up to a $550 value each year.

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Our pick for a United credit card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $95.
  • Signup bonus: 40,000 miles after you make $2,000 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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Compare United credit cards

United cobranded credit cards offer a direct way to earn additional miles on top of your MileagePlus membership. With the right timing, you can earn a strong mileage signup bonus, making these cards ideal if United is your airline of choice.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases
$450
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
$150 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
2% back on United and 1.5% on all other purchases
$0
Earn $150 after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
50,000 after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
2x miles on United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases
$450
Enjoy access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance™ affiliated lounges worldwide.
50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months plus 50,000 after spending $25,000 total in the first 6 months
2x miles at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores, 2x miles on United and 1x miles on all other purchases
$95
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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Other cards that can earn United miles

If you don’t mind passing on bonuses specific to United Airlines, you can earn points on other credit cards that allow for rewards transfers to MileagePlus — sometimes at stronger rates than you’ll find with a cobranded card.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
3% cash back on all purchases in first year up to $20,000 spent, then 1.5% cash back on all purchases
3% cash back on all purchases in first year up to $20,000 spent, then 1.5% cash back on all purchases
$0
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
$150 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$0
Earn $150 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.
100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases
$95
100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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United MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program

Loyalty program elite levels

United allows you to reach Premier status in its rewards program through Premier qualifying miles (PQM) or Premier qualifying segments (PQS). If you live in the US, you must also meet minimum annual spending requirements tracked as Premier qualifying dollars (PQD).

You can progress through four levels of Premier status if you meet the requirements, with each level featuring upgraded or additional perks. Once you reach Premium status in a calendar year, you can hold on to that status until the end of the following year.

Premier levelRequirements
Silver25,000 PQM or 30 PQS; $3,000 PQD
Gold50,000 PQM or 60 PQS; $6,000 PQD
Platinum75,000 PQM or 90 PQS; $9,000 PQD
1K100,000 PQM or 120 PQS; $15,000 PQD

Data obtained March 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Note that unlike some airline cards, United credit cards don’t provide an intro period on status levels or help you reach an elite level faster.

Earning PQM, PQS and PQD

Earn points toward a higher status by flying with United, United Express and United Airline partners. Select specialty tickets don’t count toward these points, including unpublished, bulk, group, tour and opaque fares, so plan accordingly if you’re looking to improve your status.

Benefits of Premier status

Premier members can take advantage of a host of benefits that can enhance your travel.

Bottom line

With a variety of ways to earn miles and a choice of flights through Star Alliance partners, United MileagePlus is a way to turn your loyalty to this airline into lucrative rewards.

If you’re looking for stronger rewards rates or prefer another airline, look into other loyalty travel programs.

How to redeem United miles

Frequently asked questions

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