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United MileagePlus program guide

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

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Our pick for earning United miles: United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card logo

40,000-mile

Signup bonus after spending $2,000 in first 3 months

  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit
  • Get 2x miles at restaurants, hotels and on United Airlines
  • $0 intro annual fee, then $95
See offer

United Airlines MileagePlus program is United’s loyalty program that offers customers a way to earn and redeem miles for perks such 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 the carrier’s partnership with Star Alliance airlines means you can put your points toward a wide variety of destinations.

Do United miles expire?

No. As of August 2019, United Airline miles have no expiry date. This is helpful for occasional travelers since you don’t have to feel pressured to use your points before they expire.

How do I earn United miles?

There are two major ways to earn MileagePlus:

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

These are both the fastest, most consistent way to start building your miles. However, there are several other ways you can earn miles, including making purchases with various United partners. Check out our full earning guide for more information.

How to redeem United miles

There are plenty of ways to redeem United miles through the United MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program. You can easily redeem your United miles by logging into your United account. When booking a flight, you’ll have an option to use miles at checkout. You can view an example United award chart along with other ways to redeem your miles at our full United redemption guide.

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Compare cards for earning United miles

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.

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
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in the first year
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
$0
Get 5% back on purchases made through the Chase Travel Portal, making this a strong travel card as well as a solid everyday rewards card.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
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See terms
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Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
United℠ Explorer Card
40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1.5x 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.
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United MileagePlan elite levels

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

Seating benefits

Access to Economy Plus seating, preferred seating and companions.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
Priority check-inYesYesYesYes
Complimentary access to Economy Plus or preferred seatingPreferred seating at booking; Economy Plus at check-inAt bookingAt bookingAt booking
Complimentary Economy Plus for travel companions1188
Preferred seating for travel companions8888

Flight upgrades

Premier upgrades that depend on your flight and destination.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
Instant upgrades to the premium cabin on Economy ticketsY or B class faresY or B class faresY or B class faresYesY, B or M class fares
Complimentary Premier UpgradesDay of departure48 hours72 hours96 hours

Mileage bonuses

Accelerated rates on your mile earnings depending on your premier level.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
Extra miles per dollar on eligible airlines7x8x9x11x

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

Premier priority travel services

Get priority check-in, security screenings, boarding privileges and baggage handling, along with lounge access when traveling internationally and access to many sold-out flights.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
Premier Priority Desk phone lineYesYesYesYes

Discounts and waivers

Take a break from fees with complimentary checked baggage allowances, discounted same-day flight changes and savings on United Club membership rates.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
Same-day flight change fees$75WaivedWaivedWaived
Complimentary checked bags in Economy, 70 lbs. (32 kg)1233
3 complimentary checked bags in premium cabin, 70 lbs. (32 kg)YesYesYesYes
United Club℠ annual membership discount$50$100
CLEAR® discounted annual membership$109$109$109Waived
Phone booking service fees$25$25WaivedWaived
Premier Priority Desk phone lineYesYesWaivedWaived
Award travel change/cancel fees 61 or more days from departure$75$50WaivedWaived
Award travel change/cancel fees 60 or fewer days from departure$100$75$50Waived
Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite StatusYesYesYes
Complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards statusFive StarFive StarPresident’s CirclePresident’s Circle
1 free drink and 1 snack in EconomyYes

Award travel benefits

Get access to standby, waitlisting, premium cabins and reduced fees with higher priority depending on your Premier level.

BenefitPremier SilverPremier GoldPremier PlatinumPremier 1K
PlusPoints40280
Access to most sold-out flightsY-class ticket, at least 24 hrs. before departureY-class ticket, at least 24 hrs. before departureY-class ticket, at least 2 hrs. before departureY- or B-class ticket, at least 1.5 hrs. before departure
No blackout dates for award flights on United and United ExpressYesYesYesYes
Better award availability in economyYesYesYesYes
Better award availability in select premium cabinsYesYes
Priority award waitlistingYesYesYesYes
Standby for international award flightsYesYesYesYes
Extra benefits when booking a VIP Access property with United HotelsYesYesYesYes
United Cruises onboard amenities offerYesYesYesYes
TPC Network golf course benefitsYesYesYesYes
Mercedes-Benz incentivesYesYesYesYes

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.

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