United Airlines MileagePlus Loyalty Program Review

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Need a credit card that earns United miles? You have options. You can use the United credit cards.

Better yet, transfer points to United using Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card along with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠. You can also transfer from SPG, so you could use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

United Airlines Summary Table

  • Home Country U.S.
  • Major Hubs Chicago O’Hare, Newark, Washington Dulles, Houston Intercontinental, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo Narita, Guam
  • Airline Alliance Star Alliance
  • Signature Lounge United Club, GlobalFirst Lounge

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

United Airlines MileagePlus Credit Cards

Loyalty Program Card Name Application
United Airlines MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Apply Here >>
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card Apply Here >>
United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card Apply Here >>
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card Apply Here >>

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

Loyalty Program Card Review Application
Chase Ultimate Rewards Loyalty Program Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Apply Here >>
  Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Freedom Unlimited Apply Here >>
Chase Freedom® Apply Here >>

Hotel Partner Credit Cards

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review Application
Hilton HHonors Loyalty Program Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express Apply Here >>
  Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card Apply Here >>
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Apply Here >>
Marriott Rewards Loyalty Program Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card Apply Here >>
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Apply Here >>
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Loyalty Program Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Hyatt Gold Passport Loyalty Program Chase Hyatt Credit Card Apply Here >>
IHG Rewards Club Loyalty Program Chase IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card Apply Here >>
Choice Privileges Loyalty Program Barclaycard Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card Apply Here >>

United Airlines Overview

United Airlines is the world’s second largest airline by passenger numbers and destinations served.

Its headquarters are in the iconic Willis “Sears” Tower in Chicago, where United has occupied 16 floors since its full merger with Continental in 2012.

United Locations Served

United operates short-, medium-, and long-haul aircraft to over 370 airports in 60 countries and territories on all 6 continents (including its subsidiary United Express, which is operated by a host of regional airlines).

The airline’s longtime flagship aircraft has been the Boeing 747-400, and it operates one of the largest remaining 747 fleets of commercial airlines in the world.

Features of the Airline

Unfortunately, while they have upgraded their premium cabins, United’s economy class has only seen the addition of economy plus and new seat covers; it still lacks modern amenities like seat-back personal monitors.

United’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 787 family, does have the latest in technology in its seats. Additionally, United recently announced an order of 777-300 aircraft.

These aircraft will operate on domestic routes–a move unusual by domestic carriers, but one that will be welcomed by passengers traveling on transcontinental and Hawaii flights.

United is a founding member of the Star Alliance, and has codeshares and mileage shares with its Star Alliance partners.

Large Plane Soaring Across Sky
Using United and its Star Alliance Partners, you can fly to all inhabited continents of the world, and you can get to many different countries within each one.

United MileagePlus Program

United’s mileage loyalty program is branded MileagePlus, and is the second oldest frequent flyer program in the world (only a week younger than American’s AAdvantage program!).

It is consistently voted the world’s Best Frequent Flyer Program by Global Traveler Magazine’s U.S. readers, and provides lifetime status for those who have earned more than a million miles (see MileagePlus Membership Tiers below).

The current MileagePlus program is a combination of United’s original MileagePlus and merger partner Continental’s OnePass program.

Following the merger, Copa Airlines’ program (which used Continental’s OnePass) also migrated over to MileagePlus under United.

Joining MileagePlus

To join the MileagePlus program, you simply need to sign up on their website. It is completely free, and once you sign up you will begin earning miles for flying and utilizing their partners.

You will have no initial status, but as you begin to earn qualifying miles, dollars, and segments, you will earn higher elite status.

How To Earn United Miles

MileagePlus miles can be earned on any United flight or United flight-numbered codeshare. Miles and segments can also be earned on any Star Alliance flight, whether it’s booked under a United codeshare flight number or not.

However, qualifying dollars are a little bit different: they can only be earned on United and United flight-numbered codeshares.

Miles and segments are earned at 100% for most economy class tickets. Full fare economy and premium cabin tickets earn you 1.5x the miles and segments.

Additionally, premier members earn bonus award miles according to their status when flying with United or United Express. All miles earnings are subject to United’s Contract of Carriage, and you may not earn miles on unpublished or bulk fares.

Earning Miles From Credit Cards

There are multiple ways to earn United miles from credit cards. The first is with the branded United MileagePlus credit cards:

Loyalty Program Card Name Application
United Airlines MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program United MileagePlus® Explorer Card Apply Here >>
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card Apply Here >>
Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card Apply Here >>
Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card Apply Here >>

You can also earn miles by accumulating them in Chase Ultimate Rewards and transferring them over at a 1:1 ratio. (Note that you must have one of the cards marked with an * in order to be eligible for this transfer).

Loyalty Program Card Review Application
Chase Ultimate Rewards Loyalty Program Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Sapphire℠ Reserve Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card Apply Here >>
  Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card* Apply Here >>
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Apply Here >>
Chase Freedom® Apply Here >>

Some hotel partners also allow you to transfer their points over:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review Application
Hilton HHonors Loyalty Program Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express Apply Here >>
  Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card Apply Here >>
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card Apply Here >>
Marriott Rewards Loyalty Program Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card Apply Here >>
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Apply Here >>
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Loyalty Program Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Hyatt Gold Passport Loyalty Program Chase Hyatt Credit Card Apply Here >>
IHG Rewards Club Loyalty Program Chase IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card Apply Here >>
Choice Privileges Loyalty Program Barclaycard Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card Apply Here >>
Growing Rewards Chart
Get your piggy bank ready (figuratively): there are plenty of ways to earn United miles, and soon you’ll find yourself with a full bank ready to redeem for a travel award!

How To Redeem United Miles

Time to spend those hard earned miles! On United, all award travel is booked one-way for flexibility, so you can book a different award type or even class of service on your outbound and return flights.

You can even purchase only a one-way ticket if there are one-way sale fares. This is especially true for international travel, since international origin one-way tickets are usually cheaper than U.S. origin tickets.

United provides an award chart for their destinations that is helpful for planning out your travel.

Types of Award Redemptions

Saver Awards give you the best bang for your buck, but are capacity-controlled and may be restricted, especially during peak travel periods. Check out United’s Saver Award homepage for up-to-date promotions on Saver Award destinations and times.

Standard Awards give you more availability while requiring more miles, but are still capacity-restricted unless you’re a MileagePlus Premier member or United MileagePlus® Explorer Card holder.

Travelers in these categories also have the benefit of booking up to the last seat. Premier members can also waitlist for international premier cabin award seats, which will be awarded as seats become available up to 24 hours prior to departure.

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards can be purchased on most ticket types. Depending on your premier status, these can be complimentary on domestic flights, or cleared immediately on international segments.

While award bookings may be made using another person’s miles and account, benefits such as Economy Plus seating and other Premier member privileges will only apply if the traveler themselves is a Premier member.

Girl Ready to Travel
Can’t decide where you want to go or how to get there? With the many different award options, it can be hard to make a decision. But don’t let that deter you from getting your next vacation planned!
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
  • Special offer: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Your miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United-operated flight at the MileagePlus Standard Award level
  • $95 annual fee
Apply Now Full review

Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Airlines MileagePlus? What are the benefits?
MileagePlus is the name of the United loyalty or frequent flyer program. By joining the program, you get access to a number of additional benefits through elite status, rewards tickets, and more.

Elite status tiers in the program are called Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Premier 1K.

Benefits include priority check in and boarding, free checked bags, priority security lines, lounge access and discounts, complimentary upgrades, seat upgrades and more.

You’ll earn a higher status by achieving a certain number of qualifying miles or segments combined with a total dollar spend.

Miles can be redeemed for cheap flights, or for other awards through United’s rewards portal.

What is my MileagePlus number?
To find this, you can either log in to your account, use the “forgot my password” tool to get another login email sent to you, find your membership card, or call customer service.

How do I join United Airlines MileagePlus?
You can sign up for a MileagePlus account here.

Can I transfer miles with United Airlines MileagePlus?
Yes, miles can be transferred to other MileagePlus members. Rather than “transferring” them to other airline partners, you can simply use them to book award flights with any Star Alliance partner.

What is the United Airlines MileagePlus plus login?
You can sign in to United MileagePlus here.

What are the United Airlines MileagePlus airline partners?
United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance. This means you can travel with airlines such as Air Canada, Air China, Brussels Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.

What is United Airlines MileagePlus phone number?
You can reach MileagePlus via phone at 1-800-421-4655.

When do points expire on United MileagePlus?
You must have qualifying activity every 18 months or your points will expire. This can include earning or redeeming points.

When do points post in my United MileagePlus account?
In some cases, points can take up to 6-8 weeks to post.

What are United Airlines MileagePlus points worth?
MileagePlus points can be redeemed for different values depending on the flight. Values can be anywhere from $0.015 to $0.025 per point or more.

Is there a United MileagePlus credit card?
Yes, United has 4 different MileagePlus credit cards at this time. Check our credit card review section to find reviews on these cards and more.

Currently, we have reviews posted for the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card and the Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card.

Soon we will add the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card and the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Business Card.

You can also use all Ultimate Rewards cards to earn and transfer points to United Airlines, as long as you have one of the 3 starred (“*”) cards: