Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Juan Ruiz
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United Airlines has one of the most popular frequent flyer programs in the U.S., and there are some great ways to earn United miles for award flights.
In fact, the number of ways to earn miles with the United MileagePlus program is almost overwhelming, but the following is a simplified list to get you moving in the right direction.
Your MileagePlus account is your key to earning United miles whether you’re dining out, shopping, flying, or spending with a United co-branded credit card.
To sign up and start earning miles, simply visit United’s website and create your account.
Once your account is set up, you’re ready to go. So let’s dive into the best ways to earn United miles!
If you really want to earn tons of United miles, the strategic use of credit cards is going to be your key to success. From transferable points to earning United miles directly through co-branded credit cards, you have several options.
Without a doubt, your best option to accumulate United miles is to transfer Chase points to United. Points are transferred to United at a 1:1 ratio, they’re easy to earn, and there’s no limit to how many you can transfer.
To earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, you just need a card that’s linked to the program. Whether you’re looking for a personal card or a business card, Chase has you covered with multiple ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points.
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.
The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options. Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.
Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!
Business owner? See our list of the best Chase business credit cards.
Regardless of your spending habits, you’re bound to find a Chase card or 2 that work for you. Many Chase cards also come with hefty welcome bonuses and bonus-earning categories to get you started quickly.
Hot Tip: Find out how you can earn 100,000+ Ultimate Rewards points in just 90 days!
After cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, the next best option for earning United miles are Chase’s co-branded United cards:
With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.
You travel United all the time, but you have heard that there could be ways to make your travel experiences even better, including priority boarding, free bags, and more miles.
You should consider the United℠ Explorer Card, because this card does all that and more!
Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card is a premium card designed for the most dedicated of United frequent flyers who are looking for a card that provides the opportunity to earn extra United MileagePlus miles and receive lounge access via a yearly United Club membership.
United frequent flyers will find that the United Club Infinite card provides an enhanced experience on their United flights thanks to the money saved on each flight and the conveniences it provides.
The United Quest card is a fantastic option for United flyers looking to earn more miles and enhance their flights.
The newest addition to United’s lineup of cards is the United Quest℠ Card. With it, you can bolster your United MileagePlus miles, thanks to the bonus categories, while enjoying the card’s many perks designed to help save you money on each United flight.
The United Gateway card is a great option for those looking to earn more United miles without paying an annual fee.
The United Gateway℠ Card is a great option for those looking to earn more United miles without wanting to pay a credit card annual fee. Plus, the card offers other solid benefits like a 25% back on United inflight purchases, purchase protection, and rental car insurance.
The United Club Business card is a great option for frequent United flyers looking for United Club access.
The United Club℠ Business Card is a premium card option for dedicated United loyalists seeking a card that offers complimentary United Club access, helps them earn and retain status, and doesn’t skip on the benefits.
From free checked bags to upgrades on award tickets and the ability to earn Premier qualifying points, there is plenty to the United Club Business card that United flyers are sure to love.
While these cards don’t have as many bonus categories as Ultimate Rewards cards, some do provide a complimentary checked bag, priority boarding, and other perks when flying on United.
Additionally, if you fly United regularly, some of these cards can help you earn Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) through your annual credit card spend.
These cards are more useful for the perks than their earning potential, but they are still a solid way to earn United miles.
Hot Tip: Check out the valuable benefits of the United Explorer card for a deeper insight into this rewards card.
Chase allows United cardholders to refer a friend to apply for United co-branded cards. Sending a referral link to your friends is very simple and just requires you to enter a few personal details.
If the person you refer is approved for any United card, even if it’s not the same card you hold, then you will earn 10,000 bonus miles. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles per year through referrals.
You can enter your card details on the Chase website to get your referral link.
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer those to United at a transfer rate of 3:1.1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 United miles.
A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Casual travelers who like to frequent properties that are part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection of brands may want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
The Marriott Bold card rewards cardholders for Marriott stays and gives them a boost towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Marriott loyalists will love this card's annual free night award, automatic elite status, and up to 17x points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays.
If you’re a frequent traveler and a Marriott loyalist, there’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes packed with several great benefits like a free hotel night once a year, automatic Silver Elite status (with a fast-track to Gold Elite status), and multiple options for redeeming points.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, the latest mid-tier offering in the Marriott Bonvoy lineup of cards, offers cardholders automatic elite status and ways to earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on each of their stays and daily purchases.
A premium card for Marriott fans who want perks like an annual statement credit and Free Night Award, plus a fast track to Marriott elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium card designed with road warriors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalists in mind.
So is the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet?
Bilt Rewards is a rewards program aimed at those who pay rent. You can earn Bilt points and transfer them to United at a ratio of 1:1 with a minimum of 2,000 points transferred. The Bilt card is the main avenue to earn Bilt points and allows renters to pay rent with their credit card with no fees and earn points in the process.
However, the card lacks a welcome bonus and requires a monthly minimum transaction requirement to earn points for paying rent.
Never before has there been a credit card built specifically with renters in mind. Enter the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card, designed specifically to help renters earn rewards on their rent payments with no fees.
Of course, aside from rewards on rent, there are many other solid benefits that the card offers that add extra value to cardholders. In this guide, we provide a complete breakdown of everything the Bilt card has to offer to help you decide whether the card makes sense for you.
Before you get any of these credit cards, you can start earning United miles by shopping online and dining out. However, using one of the cards above can really boost your earnings!
Shopping portals are a great way to earn extra miles on purchases you were going to make anyway. You can earn United miles through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal. All you have to do is log in and start shopping.
There are hundreds of MileagePlus retailers participating in the portal. Below is an example of a few of retailers and the kinds of earnings you can expect to find:
Occasionally, a retailer will have a special bonus. For example, the Wall Street Journal once offered 800 miles for any order placed online at the WSJ store. With subscriptions starting as low as $12, that was a good offer!
The portal is very easy to use. Follow these steps before you begin shopping at a participating online store (or before you check out):
Keep an eye out for limited-time promotions that offer even more bonus miles at your favorite stores. They will be featured rather prominently on the site and under the Offers section. Take special note of the ones listed as expiring soon!
There is a bonus shopping mall tool with United called MileagePlus X. Smartphone users can stack miles by using the MileagePlus X app on purchases. The app offers exclusive bonus earnings of up to 5 miles per $1 at stores and restaurants.
Miles earned through the app are in addition to bonus miles you earn in other ways. When you make a purchase in the app using your United MileagePlus credit card, you will earn miles from your card and from the app.
If you have one of the MileagePlus credit cards, you will get a 25% boost to the miles you earn through the MileagePlus X app!
Dining programs offer bonus miles when you dine at participating restaurants. You can sign up for the MileagePlus Dining program for free.
To start earning MileagePlus miles on dining out:
You’ll earn up to 5 miles per $1 you spend at the restaurants through the MileagePlus dining program. You can also earn miles for special bonus offers (usually offered at sign-up).
If you have a big group outing coming up, pay the bill on your registered credit card at a participating MileagePlus restaurant. This strategy will help you reach the additional spending bonus in no time!
Hot Tip: Once you’ve signed up through the portal, you can register any credit card (not just a United one)! By using the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn the most points (that can be converted to United miles) as possible.
If you like going to music or theater events, then MileagePlus has a great way to earn miles when you buy tickets for events. With Audience Rewards, you can earn 50 to 2,000 miles per ticket.
Just register with the program using your MileagePlus number, search for tickets, and make your purchase to earn bonus miles right away.
The following are other ways to earn MileagePlus miles through retail partners and online shopping centers:
|1-800-Flowers.com||30 miles per $1|
|FTD||20 miles per $1 plus 100 miles|
|Home Chef||Earn 5,000 miles on your first 5 boxes, or 1,000 miles each|
|Jaguar||Up to 50,000 miles|
|MyPoints.com||500 miles at sign-up, 1,000 miles for shopping online (redeem for award miles)|
|Norton||Up to 10,000 miles|
|Teleflora||30 miles per $1|
|Vinesse Wine||5,000 miles on your first shipment, then 5 miles per $1|
If you happen to have paid flights or hotel stays in your future, you can, of course, earn United miles on them, too!
Not surprisingly, you can earn miles by flying on United. Maximize the number of miles you’ll earn when you fly with these tips.
|Card Name||United Ticket Purchase Bonus||Card Name||United Ticket Purchase Bonus|
|Bilt card||2x points if purchased directly from United||United Club Business card||
4x miles on United purchases
|Chase Sapphire Preferred card||
||United Club Infinite card||
4x miles on United purchases
|Chase Sapphire Reserve card||
||United Explorer card||
2x miles on United purchases
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||3x points if purchased directly from United||United Gateway card||
2x miles on United purchases
|United℠ Business Card||2x miles on United purchases||United Quest card||
3x miles on United purchases
Even without these cards, you’ll earn miles for flying as MileagePlus member. If your flights are operated by United/United Express or your tickets are issued by United (ticket number starts with 016), then you will earn miles based on the fare.
The base miles you earn will always be 5x the fare. If you have reached a MileagePlus Premier membership status, then the award miles you earn based on the fare will be even greater. Here’s the Premier status breakdown:
All flights operated by partner airlines or Star Alliance members with tickets issued by an airline other than United will earn award miles based on the flight distance.
The following airlines are all partners with United:
|Air Canada||EVA Air|
|Air China||LOT Polish Airlines|
|Air New Zealand||Scandinavian Airlines|
|Asiana Airlines||Singapore Airlines|
|Austrian||South African Airways|
|Brussels Airlines||TAP Air Portugal|
|Copa Airlines||Thai Airways|
|Croatia Airlines||Turkish Airlines|
|Egypt Air||United Airlines|
|Aer Lingus||Azul||Eurowings||Olympic Air|
|Aeromar||Boutique Air||Eurowings Discover||Silver Airways|
|Air Dolomiti||Cape Air||Hawaiian Airlines||Virgin Australia|
The award miles earned on these tickets will also depend on the fare class. Go to United’s website to view United MileagePlus miles earned on each partnering airline.
There are only a few restrictions to earning miles on flights. Miles cannot be earned on MileagePlus award travel, charter flights, or reduced-rate tickets (see United for more restrictions).
Hot Tip: For more information on earning miles for paid flights, check out this in-depth guide to help you know where to credit your airline miles.
Flying is not the only way to earn United MileagePlus miles when you travel.
|Transportation Partner||Miles per Transaction|
|Avis or Budget||Up to 1,250 miles per qualifying rental|
|Carmel||50 award miles (within New York) or 100 award miles (outside of New York) and up to 2 miles per $1 spent on each trip booked and completed (online bookings only)|
|Sixt mydriver||3 miles per $1 spent|
United MileagePlus has a tremendous number of hotel partners. All of these offer varying amounts of bonus miles calculated by each dollar or night spent.
You can find all hotel partners listed on United’s site, but here’s a consolidated list and how many miles you’ll earn:
|Hotel Partner||Miles per Stay||Hotel Partner||Miles per Stay|
|Best Western||250 miles per stay||Millennium Hotels and Resorts||250 to 500 miles per stay|
|Choice Hotels||250 miles per stay||Rocketmiles||
1,000 to 10,000 miles per stay
|Fiesta Americana||2,000 for 2+ nights||Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts||500 miles per stay|
|Hyatt||500 miles per stay||United Hotels||Up to 2 miles per $1 spent|
|IHG||Up to 2 miles per $1 spent||Villas of Distinction||3 miles per $1 spent|
|Langham Hospitality Group||
Up to 1,500 miles per stay
|Wyndham||Up to 2 miles per $1 spent|
|Marriott||Up to 2 miles per $1 spent|
If the list above does not suit you, perhaps one of the partnering rewards programs will. MileagePlus has partnered with numerous hotel rewards programs covering hundreds of other hotels and resorts around the world.
As a member of any of the following hotel rewards programs, you can opt to earn United miles instead of the hotel’s own loyalty currency, though we would not recommend this due to poor value:
|Hotel Partner||Transfer Rate||Hotel Partner||Transfer Rate|
|ALL – Accor Live Limitless||2,000 Rewards Points to 1,000 miles||Marriott Vacation Club||
500 Vacation Club Points to 8,000 miles
|Choice Privileges Rewards||5,000 points to 1,000 miles||Radisson Rewards Americas||
2,000 points to 200 miles
|Hilton Honors||10,000 points to 1,000 miles||Shangri-La Circle||
1:1 with a 2,500-point minimum transfer
|IHG One Rewards||10,000 points to 2,000 miles||World of Hyatt||
2.5 points to 1 mile with a 5,000-mile bonus when converting 50,000 points to 20,000 miles
|Marriott Bonvoy||3:1.1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred||Wyndham Rewards||
6,000 points to 1,200 miles
United MileagePlus members can earn 3x United miles per $1 spent booking a Vrbo vacation rental through the United Vrbo portal. United miles are awarded after the stay is complete and are based only on the rental amount. Taxes, cleaning fees, and any other service fees or extra charges won’t earn you miles.
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 stack these bonus miles with any credit card to earn even more miles on your Vrbo purchase.
Search for great vacations combining flights, hotels, transportation, and activities at United Vacations. Use your United credit card when you purchase your vacation and earn a total of 2 miles per $1 spent.
Miles earned from these packages vary depending on the combination, location, and dates you desire. There’s a great list of vacation ideas with promotional codes aimed to earn you a set number of miles on the offers page.
With United Packages, you can earn 1,000 bonus miles when you book your flight, hotel, and car together.
Cruises all over Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and off the coasts of the U.S. earn some huge miles bonuses. You can earn up to 45,000 miles by booking a single cruise if you’re a United co-branded cardholder or 25,000 miles for non-cardholders!
Scroll down on the main page of the United Cruises website to find a list of special deals that will add even more miles to the normal amount offered. Some cruise lines will tack on up to 10,000 miles extra when booking through them!
Hot Tip: If you’ve opted to earn miles through an adventure on the open seas, don’t miss this ultimate cruise packing list to help you prep for your trip.
The following company offers unique services and products related to your travel experience. It has bonus miles offered in partnership with MileagePlus and is worth taking a look at (especially if you’re a frequent traveler).
|VisaCentral||500 to 1,000 miles for visa and passport services|
While flying private or even semi-private isn’t something that the majority of us can do, it’s good to know that it’s another way to earn United miles.
Passengers flying on JSX flights can earn 50% to 100% of the miles flown, depending on the fare class booked, in the form of United MileagePlus miles.
United MileagePlus has partnered with lots of other companies and non-profits to give you different ways to earn extra miles.
The National Foundation for Cancer Research was started in the 1970s to support cancer research and educate the public about cancer prevention, early diagnosis, better treatments, and finding a cure for all types of cancer.
MileagePlus participates in the “Fly to Find a Cure” program to encourage members to donate to the cause. You can donate to this wonderful organization and earn MileagePlus miles in return.
Donations of $25 or more will earn 10 miles per $1 spent. Make a donation and the miles will post to your account in 4 to 6 weeks!
The following are some great ways to earn additional miles through services for your home.
|Reliant||If in Texas, purchase Reliant Secure 24 electricity plan||15,000 miles for signing up plus 500 miles each month for 24 months|
|NRG Home Power||Utility company||10,000 miles after second month as customer, 2,500 extra miles if United cardholder, plus up to 3 miles per $1 when paying your energy bill|
Be careful: the cost of these services may not outweigh the benefits in the end! Figure out what better offers you can get for similar services in your area, and then decide which one makes the most sense for you.
United MileagePlus often has partnerships with companies in the personal finance and security services world. These services can help you earn extra miles when you sign up via the links provided or mention your MileagePlus number to an agent.
|Company||Example of Largest Bonus Miles Offer|
|Guaranteed Rate||Earn 50,000 miles after closing your home purchase loan or refinancing|
|LifeLock||Up to 10,000 miles depending on the plan|
|Rocket Mortgage||Earn 25,000 miles for closing or refinancing a home loan|
Consult a financial advisor before making any decisions, especially with any providers that are connected to your personal finances. It’s one thing to earn lots of extra miles using these options, but quite another to end up with a new account or loan for which you could have gotten a better rate elsewhere!
Did you know there are data collection companies out there eager to get your marketing opinion in return for miles? All you have to do is sign up for free and fill out a few surveys or watch a few advertisements and give your opinion.
United MileagePlus has teamed up with Opinion Miles Club to offer you this simple way to earn a few extra miles. You can earn 300 miles for joining and completing your first survey (600 miles for MileagePlus cardholders), then 50 to 70 miles per survey.
Buying United miles should be left for times when you need to top off your MileagePlus account to book an award ticket. United occasionally offers bonuses for purchased miles, and if you can get them for a lower cost than their redemption value, you’ll come out ahead.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the best way to earn United miles thanks to its higher-earning rate and 1:1 transfer ratio. Paired with a MileagePlus credit card, you can earn some serious miles and fun perks.
To top it all off, you can earn tons of extra miles shopping and dining out thanks to United’s partnerships. Before you know it, you’ll be booking your next award flight with United miles!
The information regarding the United Club℠ Business Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
United’s loyalty program is called MileagePlus. The points you earn and redeem are United MileagePlus miles.
You can earn miles for United MileagePlus with the United Explorer card, United Quest card, United Club Infinite card, United Gateway card, United Business card, and United Club Business card.
MileagePlus miles can also be earned by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards cards. These include the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and Ink Business Preferred card.
The value of United MileagePlus miles depends on where you are redeeming your points: it lies somewhere between 1 cent per mile and 2.5 cents per mile.
At 2.5 cents per mile, that’s like getting a $100 ticket for the equivalent of about 4,000 United miles.
Sign in to your account at united.com and hover over MileagePlus in the navigation at the top. Choose Buy, Transfer, and Give miles and then select the Transfer Miles button.
Enter your account number and password again. Then fill out the information on the loaded page to transfer United miles to anyone who also has a MileagePlus account.
United MileagePlus has several airline, hotel, and retail partners, including Marriott Bonvoy, Singapore Airlines, and more.
Yes, you can get your United miles refunded for no fee if you need to change or cancel your award ticket. If you miss your flight a $125 fee will be charged to get your miles back.
United MileagePlus miles do not expire.
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Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.
Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!
Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal). He runs Straight to the Points, an award-seat alert platform.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.