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- United miles are worth a little less than 1 cent apiece according to Bankrate valuations
- United no longer features an awards chart, but its flights awards page can help you determine worthwhile award bookings
- Miles can be earned through spending with co-branded United credit cards and Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, but there are a few other strategies to consider
Earning United miles can be a smart move if you plan to travel within the United States, but even more so if you’re a frequent traveler overseas. This is due to the airline’s membership in the Star Alliance, which unlocks the chance for you to use miles to fly to 1,300 unique airport destinations across more than 25 different airline partners
That said, it can help to know how much United miles are actually worth and how you can redeem them before you focus on earning this rewards currency specifically. After all, you may find that some frequent flyer programs travel to more destinations you want to visit from your home airport for fewer miles overall, and that you are better off earning rewards in a different program altogether.
So, how much are United miles worth? And how can you use miles in the United MileagePlus program for travel? We answer these questions and plenty of others below.
How much are United miles worth?
According to Bankrate’s recent points and miles valuations, United miles are worth about 0.9 cents each. This means that, on average, you’ll get 0.9 cents per mile in value when you redeem your rewards for airfare. When you break it down further, this means 50,000 miles are worth approximately $450.
That said, it may be possible to get a better redemption value if you’re able to use your miles to book international flights in a premium cabin.
United miles vs. other airlines
You should also know that some other frequent flyer program miles are worth more in general, while others are worth less. This information is helpful to know when you’re considering airline credit cards and trying to earn miles that are actually valuable in their own right, whether you want to book a quick flight close to home or are planning an extensive international trip.
The chart below shows how the value of United miles compares to the value of other airline currencies:
|Airline rewards program||Bankrate value|
|Air France / Flying Blue||1.5 cents|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1.0 cents|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1.1 cents|
|Delta SkyMiles||1.2 cents|
|Frontier Miles||1.3 cents|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||0.7 cents|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1.3 cents|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5 cents|
|Spirit Airlines Free Spirit||1.0 cents|
|United MileagePlus||0.9 cents|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||2.6 cents|
How to redeem United miles
While there are alternate redemption options for United miles, these miles tend to be worth considerably more if you use them to book airfare. So, while you can redeem your miles for options like gift cards, merchandise and other travel, you shouldn’t unless you just want to use them up.
When it comes to flights, you can use your miles to book airfare with United and its Star alliance partners. You can make the booking with miles exclusively (plus airline taxes and fees), or you can book a flight using a combination of cash and miles. You can also use miles to pay for an upgrade on eligible itineraries you paid with cash.
How many United miles do you need for a flight? That really depends on your destination and travel dates, and it’s worth noting that United does not offer an award chart that lets you find this information out ahead of time. However, the airline does offer a flight awards page that lists some of its least expensive award options.
As of this writing, some of the following award deals were available with United miles:
- Chicago to Orlando, Florida for 7,800 miles (plus $6) in economy
- Washington, D.C. to Lisbon, Portugal for 33,000 miles (plus $33) in economy
- Los Angeles to Seoul, Korea for 38,500 miles (plus $58) in economy
- Newark, New Jersey to Edinburgh, Scotland for 155,000 miles (plus $6) in business class
When is the best time to redeem United miles?
The absolute best time to redeem United miles is any time you find a booking you want that’s available for a reasonable price. After all, award availability with United can change by the day or even the hour, so the booking you want may not be there if you wait.
You’re also better off trying to use your miles early, as far out as 11 months before your travel dates. By searching for award availability early, you may be able to lock in prized bookings that may not be available later on. Plus, you’ll have extra time to continue your search and consider alternate travel dates and destinations.
Best credit cards for earning United miles
United offers several co-branded credit cards through Chase, but you should also know that Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio. This means you can earn miles to book United flights with both United cards and Chase travel credit cards.
The chart below highlights some of the best United Airlines credit cards right now:
|Welcome offer||Rewards rate||Annual fee|
|United Gateway℠ Credit Card*||20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening||
|United℠ Explorer Card*||60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening||
||$0 the first year, then $95|
|United Quest℠ Card*||60,000 miles and 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) after you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening||
|United Club℠ Infinite Card*||80,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening||
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||100,000 points when you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||
Additional ways to earn United miles
In addition to earning United miles with co-branded credit cards and Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, you can also earn miles with the following strategies:
- Flying with the airline and other Star Alliance members
- Booking hotels and vacation rentals with United partners
- Booking a cruise or eligible car rentals with United
- Shopping online through the United MileagePlus shopping portal
- Joining the United MileagePlus dining program and eating at eligible restaurants
Learn more: Check out Bankrate’s travel toolkit for tips and tricks on how to maximize travel with a credit card.
*The information about the United Gateway℠ Credit Card, 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.