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.
Sign up For a United Airlines MileagePlus Account
Unlike transferable points programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, you do not need a particular credit card to participate in United’s MileagePlus program.
Your MileagePlus account is your key to earning United miles whether you’re dining out, shopping, flying, or using a 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 in to the best ways to earn United miles!
Earn MileagePlus Miles With Credit Cards
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.
1. Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards (Best Option)
Without a doubt, your best option to accumulate United miles is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards. 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 participate in the Ultimate Rewards program, you just need a card that’s linked to the program. Whether you are looking for a personal card or a business card, Chase has you covered with each earning Ultimate Rewards points.
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
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 of their cards also come with hefty sign-up bonuses and bonus mile categories to get you started quickly.
Hot Tip: Find out how you can earn 100,000+ Ultimate Rewards points in just 90 days!
2. Chase United Co-Branded Credit Cards
After cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, the next best options are Chase’s co-branded United cards.
The United Explorer℠ Card earns 2 miles per dollar on purchases with United, hotels and dining, and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
While these cards don’t have as many bonus categories as Ultimate Rewards cards, they do provide a complimentary checked bag and priority boarding when flying on United.
Additionally, if you fly United regularly, these cards can help you earn Premier qualifying points (PQP) through your annual credit card spend, and for 2021 you can apply this earned PQP toward Premier 1K status. For every $12,000 spent on these cards cardmembers earn 500 PQP, up to 1,000 PQP per calendar year.
The United Club℠ Card and the United Club℠ Business Card also earn 2 miles per dollar with United, but they earn 1.5 miles per dollar on all other purchases. These cards also come with 2 free checked bags and Premier Access: priority check-in, airport security lanes, boarding, and baggage (where available).
These cards are more useful for the perks than their earning potential.
Hot Tip: Check out the valuable benefits of the United Explorer card for a deeper insight into this rewards card.
3. Refer a Friend for Bonus Miles
Every couple of months or so, Chase runs a limited-time promotion where cardholders can refer a friend to apply for the United Explorer Card. The option to send invitations to your friends is very easy.
If the person you invite is approved and makes a purchase using the card within 3 months, then you will earn 5,000 bonus miles.
These limited time refer-a-friend promotions can be one of the best ways to earn tons of United MileagePlus miles.
Check to see if there is a promotion currently going on for your card. If so, enter your card details on the Chase website to get your referral link!
4. Marriott Credit Cards
You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to United at a transfer rate of 3:1.1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,500 United miles bonus.
Recommended Marriott Credit Cards
5. Bilt Rewards Credit Card
Bilt Rewards is a niche 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. Bilt’s card offering, the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card is another way to earn Bilt points, although without a welcome bonus and with a minimum transaction requirement, this card won’t be for everyone.
Earn Miles Through Shopping and Dining
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!
6. The MileagePlus Shopping Portal
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 over 850 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 $12, that was a good offer!
The portal is very easy to use. Follow these steps before you begin shopping at a participating online store (or before you check out):
- Go to MileagePlus Shopping
- Sign into your United MileagePlus account
- Search for a product or store
- Click on the store’s bonus miles offer (e.g. Earn 3 miles/$)
- Select “Shop Now,” and the next loaded screen should look something like this:
- After a few seconds, you’ll be able to shop on the store’s website
- Ensure you are still logged into the portal before you purchase through the store to be absolutely certain you will receive the extra miles
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!
7. MileagePlus X App
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 dollar 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.
The MileagePlus X App is downloadable through the iTunes and Google Play stores.
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!
8. The MileagePlus Dining Program
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:
- Go to MileagePlus Dining
- Register/log in with your MileagePlus account number
- Select “Add a card” in your account and enter the details of any credit or debit card you want to use at restaurants
- Use the location search at the top to look for restaurants near you
- Start using the credit card you registered at participating restaurants to earn miles
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 at sign-up).
The MileagePlus Dining Program offers bonuses from time to time, so it’s worth checking out whether you can earn any extra miles this way.
For example, at one time they offered a chance to earn up to 7,000 bonus miles for signing up, spending $30 or more at your first restaurant, and completing a short review within 30 days.
Sometimes, even more miles can be earned by reaching certain spending thresholds. Recently, the program offered the following within 30 days of registering:
- Spend $25 or more on your first participating restaurant visit and earn 1,000 bonus miles
- Earn 500 bonus miles on your next three participating restaurant visits of $25 or more
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®, you’ll earn the most miles possible.
9. Rewards for Event Tickets
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.
10. Other Retail Purchases
The following are other ways to earn MileagePlus miles through retail partners and online shopping centers:
|Company||Product or service||Bonus miles|
|FTD||Flowers, plants, gifts, & food||20 miles/$1 plus 100 miles|
|Mercedes Benz||A certified, pre-owned vehicle||Up to 50,000 miles|
|MyPoints.com||Shop online with partners including eBay, Groupon, Walmart, and more||500 at sign-up, 1,000 for shopping online (redeem for award miles)|
|Vinesse Wine||Wine||5,000 miles on first shipment, then 5 miles/$1|
Normally, you receive 2 miles per dollar spent in the store, but occasional promotions will get you extra miles.
Earn United Miles Through Travel
We definitely focus on how you can redeem miles for travel. But if you happen to have some paid flights or hotel stays in your future, you can, of course, earn some United miles on them too!
11. Airfare & Airline Purchases
Not surprisingly, you can earn miles by flying on United. Maximize the number of miles you’ll earn when you fly with these tips.
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:
- Premier Silver: 5x fare + 2x fare = 7x fare total
- Premier Gold: 5x fare + 3x fare = 8x fare total
- Premier Platinum: 5x fare + 4x fare = 9x fare total
- Premier 1K: 5x fare + 2x fare = 11x fare total
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 are all of United’s partnering airlines:
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, check out this in-depth guide to help you know where to credit your airline miles.
12. Car Rentals and Other Ground Transportation
Flying is not the only way to earn United MileagePlus miles when you travel. If you’re going to need transportation, take a look at the ways you can earn miles.
|Rental Company||Miles||Rental Company||Miles|
|Carmel||50 miles (in NY), 100 miles (outside NY), and up to 2 miles/$1 on each trip||SuperShuttle||50 miles one-way|
|Dollar||50 per day up to 4 days; 500 per rental 5+ days||Thrifty||50 per day up to 4 days; 500 per rental 5+ days|
|ExecuCar||150 miles one-way|
|GroundLink||200 miles each ride|
13. Book With United Hotel Partners
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.
|Andaz||500||Hilton||2 miles/$1||Ramada||2 miles/$1|
|Ascend||250||Holiday Inn||2 miles/$1||Renaissance||2 miles/$1|
|Baymont||250||Home2 Suites||1 mile/$1||Residence||1 mile/$1|
|Best Western||250||Homewood||1 mile/$1||Rodeway||250|
|Cambria||250||Hotel Indigo||2 miles/$1||Rocketmiles*||1,000-10,000 miles|
|Candlewood||1 mile/$1||Howard Johnson||2 miles/$1||Shangri-La||500|
|Canopy||1 mile/$1||Hyatt||500||Sheraton||2 miles/$1|
|Clarion||250||InterContinental||2 miles/$1||Sleep Inn||250|
|Comfort Inn/Suites||250||JW Marriott||2 miles/$1||SpringHill||1 mile/$1|
|Conrad||1 mile/$1||Knights Inn||2 miles/$1||St. Regis||2 miles/$1|
|Country||Must transfer points after stay||La Quinta||1000||Staybridge||1 mile/$1|
|Courtyard||1 mile/$1||Langham||500-1,500||Suburban Extended Stay||250|
|Crowne Plaza||2 miles/$1||Le Meridien||2 miles/$1||Super 8||2 miles/$1|
|Days Inn||2 miles/$1||Luxury Collection||2 miles/$1||Swissôtel||500|
|Doubletree||1 mile/$1||MainStay||250||TownePlace||1 mile/$1|
|Econo Lodge||250||Microtel||2 miles/$1||Travelodge||2 miles/$1|
|Embassy||1 mile/$1||New Otani||500||W Hotels||2 miles/$1|
|Fairfield||1 mile/$1||Park Hyatt||500||Waldorf Astoria||1 mile/$1|
|Fairmont||500||Park Inn||Must transfer points after stay||Westin||2 miles/$1|
|Fiesta Americana||2,000 for 2+ nights||Preferred Hotel||500||Wingate||2 miles/$1|
|Four Points||2 miles/$1||Quality||250||Worldhotels||500|
|Hampton Inn||1 mile/$1||Radisson/Blu||Must transfer points after stay||Wyndham||500|
*Rocketmiles is an online hotel booking agency with thousands of hotels and resorts to choose from worldwide.
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, you must only indicate MileagePlus as your earning preference to start earning MileagePlus miles through them:
Hotel Partner Credit Cards
For even more ways to earn points with hotel partners, you can open up hotel credit cards and transfer the points you earn to United MileagePlus.
However, this should be a last resort as the transfer rates from these cards are horrible. You’re better off using these hotel points for hotel stays!
These cards include the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Card, Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, and The World of Hyatt Credit Card.
14. Book Vacation Rentals through VRBO
United MileagePlus members can earn 3x United miles per $1 spent booking a VRBO vacation rental through the United/VRBO portal. MileagePlus 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 aren’t included.
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 points on your VRBO purchase.
15. Book Vacation Packages
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 dollar spent.
Points 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.
16. Book United Cruises With Partners
Cruises all over Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and off the coasts of the U.S earn some huge miles bonuses. You can even earn up to 35,000 miles on all cruises!
Scroll down on the main page of the United Cruises website to find a list of special deals that will add even more to the everyday miles offer. Some cruise lines will earn you an extra 25,000 miles for a total of 50,000 miles!
Hot Tip: If you’ve opted to earn points through an adventure on the open seas, don’t miss this ultimate cruise packing list to help you prep for your trip.
17. Special Travel Partners
The following are a few unique services and products related to your travel experience. They each have bonus miles offered in partnership with MileagePlus and are worth taking a look at (especially if you’re a frequent traveler).
|Shop, dine or park with more than 100 airports and thousands of retailers around the world||Thanks Again||1 mile/$1 spent; plus 5,000 miles when $1,000 spent in 1 year|
|Secure travel documents faster||VisaCentral||500-1,000 miles for visa & passport services|
Register for Thanks Again with your MileagePlus number and the credit cards you will be using to make purchases.
In addition to the usual miles earned on everyday transactions, participants can qualify for an additional 5,000 miles if they spend $1,000 through the program in 1 calendar year.
18. Fly Semi-Private
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%-100% of the miles flown, depending on the fare class booked, in the form of United MileagePlus miles.
Specialty Earnings for United MileagePlus Miles
United MileagePlus has partnered with lots of other companies to give you many different ways to earn extra miles.
19. Make a Donation
The National Foundation for Cancer Research was started in the 1970s to support cancer research and educating the public about 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 1 mile per $1 spent. Make a donation and the miles will post to your account in 4-6 weeks!
20. Home and Energy Services
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||5,000 for consultation, 25,000 for installation|
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.
21. Financial and Security Services
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||Product/Service||Example of Largest Bonus Miles Offer|
|LifeLock||Enroll in identity security plan: Standard, Advanced, or Ultimate Plus||Up to 13,000 miles depending on the plan|
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!
22. Fill out Surveys for Miles
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 super easy way to earn a few extra miles. These are good options if you need to keep an account active or earn a few more miles for an award ticket.
|Data Collection Company||Bonus Miles Offer|
|Opinion Miles Club||300 miles for joining and completing first survey (600 miles for MileagePlus Cardholders); then 50-70 miles per survey|
23. Buy United Miles
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.
24. Earn Miles for Golf
MileagePlus Golf allows you to earn miles for golf purchases:
|Golf Partners||Miles Earned|
|Golf Direct Now (online golf equipment store)||4 miles per dollar on regular price purchases, 6 miles per dollar on closeout and sale purchases, 9 miles per dollar on select “Hot Products”|
|GolfNow (online tee time booking)||4 miles per dollar on tee times|
|GolfLogix (golf course map app)||50 miles for downloading the app, 250 miles for an annual premier membership|
|Tathata (golf instructional program)||1,000 miles for purchasing the Tathata Golf annual training program|
25. Convert Currency with Travelex
You can also earn MileagePlus miles when converting currency at Travelex locations around the world. Currently, you can earn 1 mile per $2 converted on transactions under $500, and 1 mile per $1 converted on transactions over $500. As of the time of writing, you can earn up to 3,000 miles per transaction.
However, it should be noted that Travelex often has lackluster conversion rates. With this in mind, we recommend using the calculator on the Travelex website to see if they offered conversion rates make sense for your next currency conversion.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the best way to earn United miles thanks to their 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 Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.