Picking up sushi or having coffee with a friend could bring you one step closer to your dream vacation if you sign up for the United MileagePlus Dining program, which earns United miles whenever you order food from an eligible restaurant.

MileagePlus Dining can help you earn more United miles without applying for a new credit card. But if you already hold a United MileagePlus credit card, you’ll receive additional miles when you use the United MileagePlus Dining program (on top of the miles you’ll earn with your United credit card).

What is United MileagePlus Dining?

The United MileagePlus Dining program allows you to earn United miles when you make a purchase at participating restaurants. All you have to do is sign up and register your credit or debit card on the website. After that, any time you pay your bill at a participating restaurant, bar or club with the registered card, you’ll earn miles for every dollar you spend.

It’s important to note that each credit or debit card you have can only be registered with one Rewards Network dining program at a time, which includes other airline dining programs. So, if you’ve already registered a card with the American AAdvantage Dining program, you won’t be able to use that same card with the MileagePlus Dining program unless you remove it from the AAdvantage Dining program.

How to sign up for United MileagePlus Dining

Signing up for the program is simple and free:

  1. First, locate your United MileagePlus account number on United’s website or in your email. If you aren’t a member, you’ll need to join the frequent flyer program before you can sign up for the dining program.
  2. Next, to join the dining program, simply sign in with your MileagePlus number and password on the United MileagePlus Dining website.
  3. Link the credit or debit cards you plan to use. Be sure to register any cards that you might use to pay your bill at a restaurant. The program will automatically award you miles whenever you use a registered card at a participating restaurant.
  4. Use your linked credit or debit card at a participating restaurant and earn miles.

How to earn miles with United MileagePlus Dining

Once you’ve set up your account and registered your cards, earning miles is easy. Every time you pay with your registered card at one of the 10,000+ participating restaurants, bars and clubs, miles will be credited to your MileagePlus account.

Here are a few tips for maximizing the program:

Sign up for emails to earn more miles

The United MileagePlus Dining program offers three earning tiers:

Membership level Earning rate How to qualify
Basic 1 mile per $2 Opting out of email communications
Select 3 miles per $1 Opting in to email communications
VIP 5 miles per $1 Opting in to email communications and completing 11 qualifying transactions in a calendar year

If you’re going to join United MileagePlus Dining, make sure to allow email communications, since you’ll earn at least 3 miles per dollar — instead of 1 mile for every $2 spent — every time you dine out. And if you’re able to dine out at qualifying restaurants at least 11 times per year, you’ll start earning 5 miles per dollar with your 12th transaction.

Search for restaurants and dine out as usual

Browsing the MileagePlus Dining restaurant list is a great way to discover new eateries near your home or while traveling.

Search results provide photos, descriptions, reviews and average prices for each restaurant, as well as MileagePlus benefit guidelines. You can search by city or ZIP code, explore a map view of restaurants around you or search for specific foods or cuisines. You can also filter results by distance or price.

Of course, you don’t have to visit the website to earn miles, but it helps to know which restaurants offer rewards before you go. As long as you link your preferred card to the United MileagePlus Dining program, you’ll automatically earn miles any time you pay for a meal at a participating restaurant.

Earn bonus miles through promotional offers

MileagePlus Dining frequently offers new and existing members the chance to earn bonus miles. Bonus offers are usually sent via email, and may require small tasks such as completing a survey, signing up for email notifications, adding a new card or spending a specific amount each visit.

For instance, new members can currently earn 500 bonus miles when they join MileagePlus Dining and spend $25 or more with their linked card at an eligible restaurant within their first 30 days of membership. New members will then need to review the restaurant to earn their bonus miles. Note that MileagePlus members with Premier status can earn a total of 1,000 bonus miles through this offer.

Best credit cards for United MileagePlus Dining

You don’t need a United MileagePlus credit card to earn miles in the MileagePlus Dining program. But if you want to earn as many United miles as possible, you may want to consider getting one of the following United credit cards.

United Club Infinite Card: Best for premium travel perks

If you fly with United frequently, you may want to consider the United Club℠ Infinite Card*, which comes with numerous luxury travel perks in exchange for a $525 annual fee. For rewards, you can earn 4X miles on United purchases, 2X miles on all other travel (including airfare, trains, hotel, car rentals, rideshares and more), 2X miles on dining and 1X miles on all other purchases. As a welcome offer, you can earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months after account opening.

This premium travel card also comes with United Club airport lounge membership (which is worth up to $650 per year); free first and second checked bags for you and one companion; Premier Access travel services (including priority check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling); up to a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS; 25 percent back on eligible in-flight purchases; no foreign transaction fees; the chance to earn 500 Premier-qualifying points (PQP) for every $12,000 spent (up to 8,000 PQP in a calendar year); 10 percent savings on United Economy Saver Awards (terms apply); and IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status.

United Quest Card: Best for travel perks with a lower annual fee

If you want some premium travel perks but don’t want to pay the United Club Infinite Card’s $525 annual fee, you may want to consider the United Quest℠ Card*, which comes with a $250 annual fee. To start with, you can earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 PQP after you spend $5,000 in the first three months after account opening. For ongoing rewards, you’ll earn 3X miles on United purchases (after earning your annual $125 United purchase credit), 2X miles on all other travel (including airfare, trains, hotel, car rentals, rideshares and more), 2X miles on dining and select streaming services and 1X miles on all other purchases.

More perks include two 5,000-mile award flight credits each anniversary year; up to $125 in annual United purchase credits; free first and second checked bags for you and one companion; priority boarding; up to a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS; 25 percent back on eligible in-flight purchases; no foreign transaction fees; and the chance to earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 spent (up to 6,000 PQP in a calendar year).

United Explorer Card: Best entry-level United card

If you are new to airline credit cards, and prefer flying with United, the United℠ Explorer Card* could be a great choice since it offers numerous benefits in exchange for a $95 annual fee ($0 intro annual fee for the first year). For instance, this card offers 2X miles on dining, directly-booked hotels and United purchases, plus 1X miles on all other purchases. New cardmembers can also earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Other notable card perks include two United Club one-time passes per year; your first checked bag free (for you and one companion); priority boarding; up to a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS; 25 percent back on eligible in-flight purchases; no foreign transaction fees; and the chance to earn 500 PQP for every $12,000 spent (up to 1,000 PQP in a calendar year).

The bottom line

The United MileagePlus Dining program offers you the chance to earn United miles without changing your spending habits or applying for a new credit card. Just register your cards, enjoy your favorite restaurants and watch the miles pile up.

*The information about the United℠ Explorer Card, United Quest℠ Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.