Despite being subject to a few devaluations over the years, United MileagePlus miles still pack a ton of value for both international and domestic award travel.
Since the airline is a part of the Star Alliance, you can redeem for award tickets on partners such as Lufthansa, SWISS, and Singapore Airlines. Each of these incredible partners offers great first and business class products, letting you travel the world in style with your hard-earned United MileagePlus miles.
But if you’re new to the MileagePlus program, starting to earn miles may seem like a daunting task. Thankfully though, the reality is quite the opposite — there are a ton of easy ways to earn United miles and to prove it to you, we’ll show you how to earn 100,000+ MileagePlus miles in just 90 days.
We’ll start out by looking at earning with credit cards and then move on to other earning methods. But before we dive in, make sure to head to the United website and create a free MileagePlus account.
Let’s get started!
Why Would You Want To Earn 100,000 Miles?
OK, OK, we get it. Before we dive into the guide, we should probably answer 1 burning question: “Why would I want to earn so many miles?!”
As discussed in the intro — and as seen in our guide to the best United MileagePlus redemptions — United miles can be redeemed for amazing first and business class experiences around the globe.
Even cooler, you can use the program’s Excursionist perk that lets you book open-jaw awards AND add a free one-way ticket on any round-trip international award ticket, no matter the class of service.
For example, this means that you could book Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR), book London to Prague (PRG), and then book Prague to Newark (EWR) for the same price as a standard round-trip award ticket. Plus, you can mix and match airline partners, letting you experience different business class products.
And since Star Alliance — of which United is a member — is the world’s largest airline alliance, the list of options for using your miles is practically endless! So in the end, it’s simply a matter of banking those miles as quickly as possible so you can get traveling.
1. Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
Your best option for earning United miles is actually to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These points transfer 1:1 to United miles, so 100,000 Ultimate Rewards equals 100,000 United miles.
Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards often come with several bonus categories that can help boost your earning potential — for example, you can earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining and 2 points per dollar spent on travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Even better, welcome bonuses for these cards often vary between 15,000 and 80,000 points (sometimes, even 100,000) with the premium cards having the higher bonuses. To earn the sign-up bonus, you must meet a minimum spend requirement. Once you do so, points generally post to your account when your statement closes, but it can take up to 8 weeks.
Keep in mind that you must have at least 1 of the premium Ultimate Rewards cards (i.e. 1 with an annual fee) to be able to transfer all your points to your United account. However, you can transfer points from a lower-end card to a premium card and then transfer to United or another travel partner.
Here’s a look at all available Ultimate Rewards cards — both personal and business:
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
Business owner? See our list of the best Chase business credit cards.
2. Use Chase United Credit Cards
Another easy way to earn United miles is by using a United MileagePlus co-branded credit card. There are both personal and business variants of these cards, and we’ve listed them — alongside their benefits and welcome bonuses — in the table below.
Depending on the card, you may qualify for a sign-up bonus of 30,000 to 50,000 points after you reach the minimum spend threshold within the first 3 months. Periodically, Chase offers sign-up bonuses worth an extra 20,000 points, for 50,000 to 100,000 points total, which is an excellent value.
If you’re lucky enough to apply for a card during such a promotion, you can be halfway (or further) to your goal of 100,000 points within just a few months. Sign up for a personal and business card, and you can meet (or beat) your goal as soon as you spend the required amount (just note that these cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule).
It can take up to 6 to 8 weeks for bonus points or a statement credit to appear after you qualify, but points usually post to your MileagePlus account much sooner than that.
3. Shop Online
You have 2 terrific opportunities to earn United MileagePlus miles for online shopping.
United MileagePlus Shopping Portal: Choose from more than 850 participating retailers (like American Eagle Outfitters, Under Armour, and many others) and make a purchase through the portal to earn 2x to 15x per $1 spent, plus occasional bonuses.
Just sign up for an account and link your MileagePlus account. Then, search for your merchant on the United shopping portal and click through its link before you make a purchase. You’ll automatically earn bonus points on your purchases — they usually post to your account within a few weeks.
Hot Tip: Learn more about using the United MileagePlus shopping portal in our full guide!
Other Retail Partners: Mercedes-Benz, FTD, and LifeLock are just 3 of the retail partners that offer miles for each purchase. You can view specific details for each of these partners on United’s retail partner website.
4. Earn More Miles In-Store With the MileagePlus X App
Prefer brick-and-mortar shopping? Check out the MileagePlus X app!
This app lets you purchase gift cards for a variety of different stores around the U.S., including Panera Bread, Starbucks, Foot Locker, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more. Some online merchants — including Airbnb, eBay, and Uber — also offer gift cards on MileagePlus X.
Each of these merchants offers a different amount of miles per dollar spent. This ranges from 0.5 miles per dollar spent to 5+ miles per dollar spent, so make sure to check the app for your favorite merchants before you make a purchase.
Better yet, you can stack online MileagePlus X purchases with the United shopping portal. Just click through the shopping portal before using your MileagePlus X gift card at a merchant of your choice.
Hot Tip: Giving digital gift cards for holiday gifts? Buy them through MileagePlus X and earn bonus miles!
You can purchase a gift card in whichever denomination you’d like and you’re given the code immediately; the purchase process takes just a few seconds. This means you can use MileagePlus X gift cards in-store without issue — just purchase the gift card after you know your purchase’s total.
Further, the purchase category codes as the merchant you’re buying the gift card from, NOT as a purchase from United. This means that if you purchase a Panera Bread gift card through MileagePlus X with a credit card that earns bonus miles on dining, you’ll get bonus points without issue.
Depending on how much you spend through MileagePlus X, you can make pretty solid progress towards your 100,000-point bonus over the course of 90 days.
5. Book Hotels Through RocketMiles or United Hotels
Planning a vacation? Consider booking your hotel through United’s Rocketmiles hotel booking portal.
Rocketmiles has partnered with United Airlines to offer United miles on hotel bookings around the world. You’ll earn miles on each night of your stay, with more expensive hotels generally earning more points. As you can see in the screenshot above, 1 night at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel in Chicago earns 8,000 United miles per night (with a room rate of $409 per night).
The site partners with thousands of hotels worldwide to offer points on hotel bookings. We’ve found that its pricing is usually comparable to booking directly with a hotel, so you might as well earn United miles in the process.
Just note that stays at major hotel chains — think Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton — will likely not earn hotel points or honor elite status benefits when you book through Rocketmiles. In this case, wage whether earning United miles or hotel points is more worthwhile for your stay.
Further, United runs a promotion for first-time Rocketmiles users. You can earn a 3,000-mile bonus for your first Rocketmiles booking — and this is in addition to the miles you’ll earn on your hotel stay. This points bonus is another nice boost towards your 100,000-point goal.
Alternatively, you can also book hotel rooms through United Hotels and earn points.
You’ll earn 2 United points per $1 spent on hotels booked through this portal, so make sure to compare your earnings to Rocketmiles before you book a stay. Just note that — like Rocketmiles — you won’t be able to use elite status or earn hotel points when booking through the portal.
Hot Tip: United has a handful of other hotel partners, too — you can view the full list on United’s website.
6. Book Vacation Rentals through VRBO
United MileagePlus members who book a VRBO vacation rental through the United/VRBO portal will earn 3 United miles per $1 spent. MileagePlus miles are only awarded on the cost of the rental amount. Taxes, cleaning fees, and any other service fees or extra charges won’t earn bonus points.
The last name of the primary traveler on the VRBO booking must match the last name on the United MileagePlus account in order to receive miles.
The bonus miles are not associated with having a United co-branded credit card so you can pay with any credit card to earn even more miles.
7. Book Rental Cars
Like many airlines, United has a handful of rental car partners that you can use to earn points on rental cars. The airline currently partners with the following rental car companies:
Avis and Budget
Both United elite members and United co-branded credit card holders can earn between 500 and 1,250 miles when you credit Avis and Budget car rentals to your United account.
Dollar Rent A Car
United MileagePlus members will earn 50 award miles each day on all qualifying paid car rentals between 1 to 4 days or 500 miles per rental for qualifying rentals of 5 or more days. To earn miles, book through the Dollar link on United’s website.
Thrifty Car Rental
Like Dollar, Thrifty Car Rental customers will earn 50 miles per day on rental between 1 and 4 days, and 500 miles on rentals of 5 or more days. Simply book through the Thrifty link on United’s website to earn miles.
Bottom Line: Depending on how often you book rental cars, this can help you earn a bunch of bonus miles towards your 100,000-mile goal. This is especially true if you rent through Hertz and have your rentals reimbursed through work.
8. Switch Home Utility Providers (With Caution)
United partners with a handful of home utility providers around the U.S. When you switch to one of these providers, you’ll generally earn a nice welcome bonus and a set number of United miles per dollar spent on your monthly utility bill.
Here’s a list of the available providers, their welcome bonuses, and areas of service:
- NRG: 12,500 miles after 2 months of active service and 3 miles for every $1 you spend on the supply portion of your electric and natural gas bills each month. Available in parts of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Also available in all of New Jersey.
- Reliant: 15,000 bonus miles at sign-up and 500 bonus miles each month for 2 years, giving you a total of 27,000 miles over 2 years. Only available in Texas.
There’s no doubt that these are pretty nice welcome bonuses, but keep 1 thing in mind: these utility companies generally charge a premium over standard utility companies. This is because — generally — they piggyback off of local service providers and resell services. In our experience, this isn’t a huge surcharge, but it may outweigh the long-term mileage earning.
With that in mind, we recommend signing up for these services and getting the welcome bonus. Then, switch back to your local utility provider if you find that the higher cost of NRG or Reliant isn’t worth the mileage earning after the welcome bonus.
9. Refinance (or Finance) Your Home With Quicken Loans
If you’re looking to refinance your home, you may be able to earn some United miles in the process if you choose to refinance with Quicken Loans.
You can receive a 25,000 United mile bonus for closing on a new home or refinancing a home loan with Quicken Loans. According to the United website, you’ll also “enjoy a complimentary mortgage review and VIP treatment from a dedicated team of Home Loan Experts,” too.
To take advantage of this offer, request a quote for your mortgage using this Quicken Loans link. As always, be sure to price-compare your Quicken Loans mortgage rate with offerings from other companies — miles should never warrant paying a higher interest rate.
10. Enroll in United MileagePlus Dining
Like many airlines, United has its own dining program. With this program — dubbed United MileagePlus Dining — you’ll earn bonus United miles when you dine at participating restaurants around the U.S., in addition to miles you earn with your credit card.
You’ll earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent at the restaurants that participate in the MileagePlus Dining program. You’ll earn 3 miles per dollar spent if you opt-in to email notifications from United MileagePlus Dining and 5 miles per dollar spent once you reach VIP status. This status is earned after 11 dines at United MileagePlus Dining restaurants, cafes, or bars. All other members earn 1 mile per dollar spent.
To start earning MileagePlus miles with United MileagePlus Dining, do the following:
- Navigate top the MileagePlus Dining website.
- Register a MileagePlus Dining account with your MileagePlus account number.
- Select “Add a card” in your account and enter the details of any credit or debit card you’d like to use at restaurants — preferably 1 that earns bonus miles on dining.
- Use the location search at the top to look for restaurants near you or near somewhere you’re traveling.
- Use the credit card you registered with MileagePlus Dining to pay for purchases at participating restaurants — you’ll earn bonus miles automatically.
Further, United offers a welcome bonus for new United MileagePlus Dining members. As of the time of writing this article, the bonus is 3,000 miles after performing the following tasks:
- Earn 1,000 bonus miles after you spend $25 or more on your first participating restaurant visit within 30 days of signing up
- Enjoy VIP status for a limited time, which gives you an additional 500 bonus miles on your first visit
- Then, earn 500 bonus miles on your next 3 visits to United MileagePlus Dining restaurants when you spend $25 or more within 30 days of signing up
Bottom Line: Depending on how much you dine out, you can make nice progress towards your goal of 100,000 United miles. This is especially true if you frequently expense large meals or catering for work — just move a few meetings to participating restaurants and reap the mileage bonus.
11. Buy Broadway Tickets
Do you frequent theater performances in major cities like New York City or Chicago? Consider buying your tickets through United partner Audience Rewards. You can earn 50 to 2,000 miles per ticket — all you have to do is make your purchase through the United Audience Rewards portal.
12. Donate to Find a Cure
Fly to Find a Cure is a program that supports the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Donate at least $25 to the program, and you’ll receive 1 mile per $1 spent in return. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for these miles to post to your account.
Using Those 100,000+ United MileagePlus Miles
As we’ve mentioned, you have plenty of redemption options with MileagePlus. Here are 3 ideas to think about:
- Fly Semi-Private on Boutique Airways: Boutique Airways is a domestic airline whose fleet is comprised entirely of 8-seater aircraft whose award flights start at 13,800 miles. For around 100,000 miles you can reserve most of the plane and enjoy a truly private experience.
- Travel to Africa in Business Class: Want to visit Africa? Redeem points starting from 88,000 United MileagePlus miles to fly on a Star Alliance carrier to Africa from the U.S. You can otherwise snag a ticket for a United-operated flight from just 70,000 miles.
- Lufthansa First Class: Redeem around 110,000 miles and fly in style on a one-way first class ticket from the U.S. on Lufthansa. Connecting through Frankfurt allows you to visit the First Class Terminal which is known for its absolutely fabulous airport lounge. You can even take a bath while you wait for your flight!
By now, we hope it’s clear how easily you can earn 100,000 United MileagePlus miles in a very short time. For more strategies, read our full guide to earning United miles that includes loads of additional examples and strategies.