The United Airlines MileagePlus loyalty program is known for its ease of use and numerous travel benefits. Whether you fly thousands of miles per year or just a few times, joining the program is free and easy to do, allowing you to earn miles toward your next trip.

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

How does United MileagePlus work?

The United MileagePlus program is a free loyalty program that rewards passengers for flying with United and United partners. Joining MileagePlus is easy, and you can redeem 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 the airline can help you achieve elite status, allowing you to earn rewards faster, gain access to upgrades and enjoy United Club 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 based on the fare amount and your level of status.

Earn with United partners

United 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.

Earn more with elite status

Members without elite status earn 5X miles on base fare, 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 and can be done by logging into your account on the United website.

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

Two of the easiest ways to spend the miles you accumulate are through the Merchandise Awards shopping portal and the MileagePlus X app. With Merchandise Awards, your miles function as the currency used to shop for a vast range of products. From home decor and kitchen appliances to Apple products and Lego sets, there is no shortage of merchants to spend your miles with. Simply log in with your United MileagePlus account and start browsing.

The MileagePlus X app makes it easy for you to earn and redeem miles on the go. Through the app, you can use your miles for shopping and dining purchases or else purchase eGift cards from more than 270 merchants. With a few taps, you can pay for your dinner or shopping purchase with your miles. Some participating merchants include Uber, Starbucks, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Dominoes and Walmart.

You can also use your United MileagePlus miles for newspaper and magazine subscriptions, flowers and gourmet gift baskets from FTD 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.

United MileagePlus elite status

Gaining elite status with United MileagePlus takes a bit of time, but for those who fly regularly, 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. You may also receive 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: 8 PQF and 3,000 PQP or 3,500 PQP
  • Premier Gold: 16 PQF and 6,000 PQP or 7,000 PQP
  • Premier Platinum: 24 PQF and 9,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
  • Premier 1K: 36 PQF and 13,500 PQP or 15,000 PQP

How much are United MileagePlus miles worth?

Although United’s award-pricing system fluctuates depending on the specific flight you’re looking at, United MileagePlus miles are worth roughly 1.21 cents each, according to The Points Guy. 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. 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.

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 miles. You can also transfer United miles to hotel points in some of the world’s biggest hotel loyalty programs.

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 up to 70,000 miles: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening and an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. 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. These miles do come with a price, though, as this card charges an annual fee of $525. As a welcome bonus, you’ll receive 100,000 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

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.