Key takeaways

  • The United MileagePlus program is a free airline loyalty program that allows you to earn rewards when you fly with United and United partners
  • Joining the program can also help you achieve elite status, allowing you to earn miles faster, gain access to upgrades and enjoy other perks
  • United MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for flights with United or eligible United partners, flight upgrades, other types of travel, travel perks, merchandise, gift cards and more
  • In partnership with Chase, United also offers its own United MileagePlus personal and business credit cards

The United Airlines MileagePlus loyalty program can help you earn status and award flights with United, whether you fly thousands of miles per year or just a few times per year. Joining the program is free and easy to use, and doing so can help you earn more miles toward your next trip.

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the United MileagePlus program, including how it works, how to earn and redeem miles, elite status and the best credit cards for earning even more United miles.

How does United MileagePlus work?

The United MileagePlus program is a free airline loyalty program that allows you to earn rewards when you fly with United and United partners. Once you sign up and start earning miles, you can redeem MileagePlus miles for free or reduced travel, merchandise, gift cards and more. Plus, your earning potential increases when you use a United Airlines credit card to book flights.

Flying with United can also help you achieve elite status, allowing you to earn MileagePlus rewards faster, gain access to upgrades and enjoy United Club airport lounge membership at a lower price point.

How to earn United MileagePlus miles

Earn on flights

You’ll earn miles with every flight you book with United or an eligible United partner. The amount you earn is either based on the fare amount or the number of miles flown (depending on if you book through United or through a partner) and your level of status.

Earn with United partners

United partners include 25 airlines through the Star Alliance group, as well as 18 additional global partner airlines. United also has an incredible list of non-airline partners that you can earn miles with — including hotel, vacation rental, cruise, car, home, financial, shopping and dining partners.

You can earn United MileagePlus miles with these partners, or in some cases transfer the rewards you earn to MileagePlus miles.

Earn more with elite status

Members without elite status earn 5X miles on base fare with United, which doesn’t include taxes and fees. United elite members earn Premier bonus miles, on top of the 5X miles earned already, at the following rates:

  • Premier Silver: 5X base miles + 2X bonus miles = 7X total miles
  • Premier Gold: 5X base miles + 3X bonus miles = 8X total miles
  • Premier Platinum: 5X base miles + 4X bonus miles = 9X total miles
  • Premier 1K: 5X base miles + 6X bonus miles = 11X total miles

Earn with a credit card

United currently offers several consumer and business credit cards, all of which are issued by Chase:

How to redeem United MileagePlus miles

Redeem for flights

The most common way to redeem miles is for flights with United or United airline partners. You can book flights with just miles or a combination of cash and miles. Another option is to use your miles for flight upgrades with United or Star Alliance partners (when eligible).

Redeeming your United MileagePlus miles to book air travel is easy. Just log in to your account on the United website and search for the flights you want using miles.

Redeem for other travel

Beyond flights, you can also redeem your miles for hotel stays, vacation homes, car rentals and cruises. As a MileagePlus member, you’ll get access to exclusive promotions and discounted bookings, plus more perks if you have a MileagePlus credit card.

Redeem for travel perks

If you want to enhance your travel experience, you can redeem your miles for perks like a United Club membership, an in-flight Wi-Fi subscription, a TSA PreCheck credit or dining at select restaurants and bars at the Newark Airport and the Houston Intercontinental Airport.

Redeem for merchandise, gift cards or subscriptions

Aside from travel, you can spend the miles you accumulate through the Merchandise Awards shopping portal and the MileagePlus X app. With Merchandise Awards, your miles function as the currency you can use to shop for a vast range of products, from home decor and kitchen appliances to Apple products and Lego sets. Simply log in with your United MileagePlus account and start browsing.

Through the MileagePlus X app, use your miles for shopping and dining purchases or purchase eGift cards. Some participating merchants include Uber, Starbucks, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Dominoes and Walmart.

You can also use your United MileagePlus miles for partner newspaper and magazine subscriptions, flowers and shopping with Apple.

Redeem for experiences

Alternatively, you can also use your miles for a wide variety of experiences, including tickets to theater performances, sporting events, concerts and Broadway shows through the MileagePlus site.

How much are United MileagePlus miles worth?

You can gauge redemption values by selecting “book rewards travel” and entering your desired locations, dates and preferences for the time of day and fare class. Although United’s award-pricing system fluctuates depending on the specific flight you book, United MileagePlus miles are worth roughly 0.9 cents each, according to Bankrate’s points and miles valuations. Note that, if you’re redeeming your miles for something other than flights, you may get even less in value.

United MileagePlus elite status

Gaining elite status with United MileagePlus takes a bit of time. But if you fly regularly with United, it should not be hard to achieve at least the lower tiers of Premier status. Once you reach these levels, you’ll rack up more miles on every flight and become eligible for perks like seat upgrades, free baggage and priority check-in.

To qualify for Premier status, you’ll need to accumulate a certain number of Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and/or Premier qualifying points (PQP). The status levels, and the qualifications for each level, are as follows:

  • Premier Silver: 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP
  • Premier Gold: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum: 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP

United MileagePlus transfer partners

United MileagePlus airline partners

United has more than 40 airline partners, through a combination of its alliance and additional worldwide partners. United is a Star Alliance member, meaning that if your preferred airline is United, you can take flights on partner airlines and then credit the miles you earn to your MileagePlus account.

For example, let’s say you take a United flight to Canada and then use Air Canada — a Star Alliance member — to do some additional travel while in the country. Since both airlines are Star Alliance members, you can later redeem the miles you earned from those flights for another flight on a Star Alliance carrier.

    • Aegean
    • Air Canada
    • Air China
    • Air India
    • Air New Zealand
    • ANA
    • Asiana Airlines
    • Austrian
    • Avianca
    • Brussels Airlines
    • Copa Airlines
    • Croatia Airlines
    • EgyptAir
    • Ethiopian Airlines
    • EVA Air
    • LOT
    • Lufthansa
    • SAS
    • Shenzhen Airlines
    • Singapore Airlines
    • South African Airways
    • SWISS
    • TAP Air Portugal
    • THAI
    • Turkish Airlines
    • Aer Lingus
    • Aeromar
    • Air Dolomiti
    • Airlink
    • Azul
    • Boutique Air
    • Cape Air
    • Edelweiss
    • Emirates
    • Eurowings
    • Eurowings Discover
    • Flydubai
    • Hawaiian Airlines
    • JSX
    • Olympic Air
    • Silver Airways
    • Virgin Australia
    • Vistara

United MileagePlus hotel partners

With more than 15,000 hotels to choose from worldwide, it’s easy to find a hotel where you can earn or redeem MileagePlus miles. You can also transfer United miles to hotel points in some of the world’s biggest hotel loyalty programs

    • Marriott Bonvoy
    • IHG One Rewards
    • World of Hyatt
    • Radisson Rewards
    • Wyndham Rewards
    • Choice Privileges Rewards
    • Golden Circle
    • Accor Live Limitless

Top credit cards that earn United MileagePlus miles

In partnership with Chase, United offers its own United MileagePlus credit cards, all of which come with unique perks that will make future travel plans easier, cheaper and more enjoyable. Alternatively, you could also consider a general travel card that allows you to transfer rewards to the MileagePlus program.

United Explorer Card: Best for your first travel rewards card

The United Explorer Card offers a big welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. For rewards, you’ll earn 2X miles on dining, hotel stays and eligible United purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases.

Additional benefits include 25 percent back (as a statement credit) on eligible in-flight purchases on United flights; up to a $100 credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS every four years; no foreign transaction fees; two United Club one-time passes after account opening and on each cardmember anniversary; and a free first checked bag (for the primary cardmember and one companion on the same reservation). Also, the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

United Club Infinite Card: Best for frequent flyers who want luxury perks

Are you an entrepreneur who travels often? Then the United Club Infinite Card will give you the most bang for your buck — if you’re willing to pay for it — since this card charges an annual fee of $525. As a welcome bonus, you can earn 80,000 miles if you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. For rewards, you’ll earn 4X miles on eligible United purchases, 2X miles on all other travel purchases, 2X miles on dining (including eligible delivery services) and 1X miles on all other purchases.

Some other notable benefits include 25 percent back (as a statement credit) on eligible in-flight purchases on United flights; up to a $100 credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS every four years; a complimentary United Club membership (a $650 value); free first and second checked bags (for the cardholder and one companion on the same reservation); Premier Access travel services; and no foreign transaction fees.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for everyday spending

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card includes a $95 annual fee and offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Cardholders will earn 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 5X total points on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025); 2X points on other travel; and 1X points on all other purchases.

Some other perks include 25 percent more points value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, no foreign transaction fees and the ability to transfer Chase points to United MileagePlus miles at a rate of 1:1. And if you have other travel rewards credit cards issued through Chase, points can be pooled together in your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.

FAQs about United MileagePlus

  • United MileagePlus miles never expire.
  • Yes, you can transfer miles to other United MileagePlus members. To transfer miles, you’ll pay a processing fee of $30 per transaction and a transfer fee of $7.50 for every 500 miles you transfer. Note that United frequently offers promotions on miles transfers, which may include a discount on transfers along with no processing fees.
  • Yes, you can transfer United miles to eligible Star Alliance members and MileagePlus partners
  • For those times when you really want to book a ticket with your miles but fall just a bit short, you can buy miles directly from United. Miles can be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles (with a $35 fee for every 1,000 miles, plus taxes and fees) and a minimum of 2,000 miles must be purchased. This makes each mile cost more than 3.5 cents each — more after you add in fees and taxes. Occasionally, United has promotions where it will offer a discount on miles purchases or free bonus miles. Depending on your plan to earn and use miles, this might be a great deal to get extra miles that you can redeem for free travel.

*All information about the United Gateway℠ Card, United℠ Explorer Card, United Quest℠ Card, United Club℠ Infinite Card and United Club℠ Business Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.