Guide to the United MileagePlus program | finder.com
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United MileagePlus program

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

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.
How to earn United miles

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
$150 after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
2% back on airline tickets purchased from United® and 1.5% on all other purchases
$0
$150 in United TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on tickets purchased from 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.
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on tickets purchased from United, 2x miles at restaurants, 2x miles on direct hotel purchases 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.
75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Earn 2x miles at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores, 2x miles on tickets purchased from United and 1x miles on all other purchases.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Earn a $100 statement credit after your first purchase
Earn 2x miles on tickets purchased from United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases.
$450
Enjoy access to all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance™ affiliated lounges worldwide.

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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.

Our pick for 1:1 point transfer

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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Promoted
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
2x points on travel and dining. 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. 1x points on all other purchases
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$150 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months
1.5% cash back for each dollar spent
$0
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$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
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
80,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
3x on travel, shipping, Internet, cable, phone and online ads up to $150,000 combined annually; then 1x after and on all other purchases
$95
80,000 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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