United MileagePlus guide
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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. Joining the program is free and easy to use to boost 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, 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
With every flight you book with United or an eligible United airline partner, you’ll earn miles. 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 16 additional worldwide 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 points.
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 four consumer credit cards and two business credit cards, all of which are issued by Chase:
- United Gateway℠ Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- United Quest℠ Card
- United Club℠ Infinite Card
- United℠ Business Card
- United Club℠ Business Card
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 a United Club membership, an in-flight Wi-Fi subscription, a TSA PreCheck credit or dining at select restaurants and bars at 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.
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 fligh 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
How much are United MileagePlus miles worth?
Although United’s award-pricing system fluctuates depending on the specific flight you book, United MileagePlus miles are worth roughly 1.1 cents each, according to Bankrate valuations. 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.
Note that, if you’re redeeming your miles for something other than flights, you may get less than 1 cent in value.
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 — also 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.
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Airways
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti
- Boutique Air
- Cape Air
- Eurowings Discover
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airways
- Virgin Australia
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 Rewards Club
- 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 welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months. For rewards, you’ll earn 2X miles on dining, hotel stays and United purchases and 1X miles on all other purchases.
Additional benefits include 25 percent back on in-flight purchases on United flights, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years, no foreign transaction fees, two United Club one-time passes each year and a complimentary first checked bag. Also, the annual fee of $95 is waived 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. This card charges an annual fee of $525. As a welcome bonus, you’ll receive 80,000 miles if you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. For rewards, you’ll receive 4X miles on United purchases, 2X miles on all other travel purchases, 2X miles on dining and eligible delivery services and 1X miles on all other purchases.
Other notable benefits include 25 percent back on United in-flight purchases, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck every four years, a complimentary United Club membership (worth $650), free first and second checked bags, priority travel services and no foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 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. Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 points on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025); 2X points on other travel; and 1X points on all other purchases.
Plus, you can earn up to $50 in statement credits for hotel stays purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 25 percent more points value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and no foreign transaction fees. And if you have other travel rewards credit cards issued through Chase, points can be pooled together in your Chase Ultimate Rewards account. You can also transfer Chase points to United MileagePlus miles at a rate of 1:1.
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 and cost $35 for every 1,000 miles, plus taxes and fees, with a minimum purchase of 2,000 miles. 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 Explorer Card and the United Club Infinite Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.