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Understanding and Maximizing the United Excursionist Perk [2023]

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Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business ...
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Frequent travelers have probably heard a time or two about the United Excursionist Perk. But, by and large, this benefit tends to be underrated. Whether you’re a United loyalist or not, the Excursionist Perk can provide tons of value — especially when you get creative to maximize those savings.

Let’s take a look at what the United Excursionist Perk is, how to use it, and the best ways to take advantage of it.

What Is the United Excursionist Perk?

Paris Eiffel Towel
The Excursionist Perk can get you free stopovers just about anywhere in the world, including Paris. Image Credit: Eugene Dorosh via Pexels

First things first: what exactly is the United Excursionist Perk? If you’re unfamiliar with the program, you may be surprised to hear that the Excursionist Perk will give you a free flight on award flights. Note that it doesn’t apply to all flights — you’ll need to book a multi-city flight using your United MileagePlus miles in order to qualify. This is built-in automatically to your flight search, and we’ll show you how to conduct this search below.

So what’s the point of the Excursionist Perk? Ostensibly, it’s United’s way of rewarding travelers with a free stopover. Let’s say you fly from the U.S. to Paris, then Paris to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt back to the U.S. United will charge you for both legs to and from the U.S. but will give you the Paris to Frankfurt leg for free.

An important thing to know is the free flight will be in the same fare class you booked for your original flight. If you’re traveling in economy, your free leg will be in economy. If you’ve booked in business, your free leg will be in business.

While a free flight from Paris to Frankfurt is nice, there are plenty of ways to stretch this perk, even for flights worth over a thousand dollars.

The United Excursionist Perk does have some limitations:

  • The Excursionist Perk cannot be used in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel started. As an example, if your journey began in North America, you’d only get the Excursionist Perk if your travel is in a region outside of North America.
  • Even if you’ve booked multiple awards that would qualify for this perk (in 1 itinerary), only the first qualifying leg will be free.
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.

Who Can Use the United Excursionist Perk?

Naturally, the United Excursionist Perk is only available to those with United MileagePlus accounts. The frequent flyer program is free to sign up for — and in case you haven’t already — you should always sign yourself up for rewards programs when booking flights or hotels.

You’ll need to use your United MileagePlus miles to fly. Although United is a Star Alliance partner, you can’t book through other common reward programs like Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles

If you don’t have enough United MileagePlus miles to book yourself at least 2 one-way tickets, you’ll need to earn some more. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do so.

Flying

You can always earn miles by flying, though like the other Big 3 carriers in the U.S., United will award you miles based on the fare of your ticket, not how far you’ve flown. The award miles you earn will also vary on your elite status:

SCROLL FOR MORE
Membership LevelAward Miles Earned per $1 Spent
Member5x
Premier Silver7x
Premier Gold8x
Premier Platinum9x
Premier 1K11x

These earnings only apply on flights marketed and ticketed by United. If you’ve purchased a ticket with and are flying a partner airline, you’ll earn miles according to a different chart based on distance flown and fare class. This applies differently according to each airline, so you’ll want to check it out before booking.

Transferring Points

United is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which means you can transfer over your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers are instantaneous and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn, as we’ll outline below.

You can also transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to United at a rate of 3:1.1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

Using Credit Cards

Perhaps the easiest way to earn United MileagePlus miles is through credit cards. Not only does United has a transfer partnership with Chase and Marriott Bonvoy, but it also has several different co-branded credit cards. Even better, plenty of these cards have large welcome offers, which will help boost your balance quickly:

Recommended United Cards

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

United℠ Explorer Card

With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
50,000 bonus miles
$600
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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!

Pros

  • 2x miles per $1 on United purchases, dining purchases (including delivery services), and hotel stays
  • 1x mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 1 traveling companion
  • 25% statement credit on United inflight purchases
  • Priority boarding
  • Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS statement credit
  • 2 United Club 1-time passes each year
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets
  • Travel and purchase protections

Cons

  • $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

United MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program

United Club℠ Infinite Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.
Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 80,000 bonus miles
$960
$525
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

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.

Pros

  • 4x miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2x miles per $1 on travel and dining purchases
  • Complimentary United Club membership
  • Free first and second checked bag for you and 1 traveling companion
  • United Premier Access
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades on United-operated award tickets (when available)
  • Expanded award availability
  • Up to 10,000 Premier Qualifying Points
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEXUS credit
  • Trip protections like trip delay insurance, lost and delayed luggage insurance, and rental car insurance
  • Shopping protections like return protection, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection
  • IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite status and a $75 annual credit
  • Avis President’s Club elite status
  • 10% discount on United Economy Saver Awards within the continental U.S. and Canada

Cons

  • $525 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 80,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip (terms apply) - and Premier Access® travel services
  • 10% United Economy Saver Award discount within the continental U.S. and Canada
  • Earn up to 10,000 Premier qualifying points (25 PQP for every $500 you spend on purchases)
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

United Quest℠ Card

United Quest℠ Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The United Quest card is a fantastic option for United flyers looking to earn more miles and enhance their flights.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

United Quest℠ Card

The United Quest card is a fantastic option for United flyers looking to earn more miles and enhance their flights.
Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
60,000 miles
$720
$250
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

With an annual fee that falls between the United℠ Explorer Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card, the United Quest card makes for a fantastic card option for United frequent flyers.

Pros

  • 3x miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2x miles per $1 spent on travel, dining, and select streaming services
  • $125 annual United credit
  • 2 5,000-mile anniversary award flight credits
  • Free first and second checked bag for you and 1 traveling companion
  • Priority boarding
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades on United-operated award tickets (when available)
  • Expanded award availability
  • Up to 3,000 Premier Qualifying Points
  • Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEXUS credit
  • Travel and shopping protections including trip delay insurance, lost/delayed luggage insurance, rental car insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection

Cons

  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Does not offer airport lounge access
  • $250 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 PQP after qualifying purchases
  • Earn 3 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel, dining and select streaming services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip (terms apply) - and priority boarding
  • Up to a $125 United® purchase credit and up to 10,000 miles in award flight credits each year (terms apply)
  • Earn up to 6,000 Premier qualifying points (25 PQP for every $500 you spend on purchases)
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

United Gateway℠ Card

United Gateway℠ Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The United Gateway card is a great option for those looking to earn more United miles without paying an annual fee.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

United Gateway℠ Card

The United Gateway card is a great option for those looking to earn more United miles without paying an annual fee.
Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. Learn more.
20,000 miles
$240
$0
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that, 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • 2x miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2x miles per $1 at gas stations and on local transit and commuting, including rideshare services, taxicabs, train tickets, tolls, and mass transit
  • 1x mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance
  • Rental car insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty coverage

Cons

  • If you are a frequent United flyer, other cards offer more perks
  • It does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, at gas stations and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at gas stations, on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Gateway Card
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that, 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

LIMITED-TIME OFFER
United Club℠ Business Card

United Club℠ Business Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The United Club Business card is a great option for frequent United flyers looking for United Club access.

United Club℠ Business Card

The United Club Business card is a great option for frequent United flyers looking for United Club access.
Earn 75,000 bonus miles + 1,000 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
75,000 miles
$900
$450
21.99%–28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • 2x miles per $1 spent on United purchases
  • 1.5x miles per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Complimentary United Club membership
  • Free checked bags
  • Premier Access travel services
  • Discount on inflight purchases
  • Upgrades on award tickets
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Travel and purchase protections

Cons

  • $450 annual fee
  • Earning rate for United purchases is poor compared to other United cards
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles + 1,000 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn 2x miles on United purchases
  • Earn 1.5x miles on all other purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • United Club membership — up to a $650 value per year. Relax in comfort while waiting for your flight with complimentary beverages, snacks, high-speed Wi-Fi, and more
  • Free first and second checked bags for you and a companion, save up to $320 per round-trip
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.99%–28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Card Categories

If you’re instead looking for the flexibility of a Chase card, these are good options:

Recommended Chase Cards

POPULAR FIRST CARD
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
60,000 points
$1,200
$95
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • 5x points on all travel booked via the Chase Travel portal
  • 5x points on select Peloton purchases over $150 (through March 31, 2025)
  • 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025)
  • 3x points on dining purchases, online grocery purchases, and select streaming services
  • 2x points on all other travel worldwide
  • $50 annual credit on hotel stays booked through the Chase Travel portal
  • 6 months of complimentary Instacart+ (activate by July 31, 2024), plus up to $15 in statement credits each quarter through July 2024
  • Excellent travel and car rental insurance
  • 10% annual bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs like United MileagePlus and World of Hyatt

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No elite benefits like airport lounge access or hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

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.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel.
60,000 points
$1,200
$550
22.49%-29.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

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!

Pros

  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10x points on Lyft purchases March 31, 2025
  • 10x points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $250 through March 31, 2025
  • 5x points on airfare booked through Chase TravelSM
  • 3x points on all other travel and dining purchases; 1x point on all other purchases
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access
  • TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS credit
  • Access to Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection
  • Rental car elite status with National and Avis

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • Does not offer any sort of hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 22.49%-29.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Finally, if you don’t want either option above, you can always opt to get a Marriott Bonvoy credit card — as a reminder, you can transfer over your Marriott Bonvoy points to United at a 3:1.1 ratio with a 5,000 miles bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer:

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
30,000 points
$210
$0
21.49%–28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • Up to 14x points per $1 on Marriott purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on travel purchases
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each year (automatically gives you Silver Elite status)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • Lower point earn rate than other Marriott Bonvoy cards
  • Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status is the lowest status tier
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Pay no annual fee with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card from Chase®!
  • Earn up to 14X total points per $1 spent at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Card.
  • 1X point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Your points don't expire as long as you make purchases on your card every 24 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49%–28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Marriott Bonvoy

LIMITED TIME OFFER
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

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.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

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.
Earn 5 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card!
Earn 5 Free Night Awards
$1,750
$95
21.49%–28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • Earn big when you use your card at thousands of participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Earn big at grocery stores, gas stations, and dining
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status
  • 1 Free Night Award each cardmember anniversary (valued up to 35,000 points)
  • One year complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Marriott Silver status is the lowest status tier
  • Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 3X points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
  • Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn up to 17X total points per $1 spent at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Card.
  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, automatic Silver Elite status, and path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Your points don't expire as long as you make purchases on your card every 24 months.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49%–28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

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Marriott Bonvoy

NEW 155K OFFER
Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.
Earn 155,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
155,000 points
$1,085
$250
20.99%-29.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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.

Pros

  • 6x points per $1 at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy
  • 4x points per $1 at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per calendar year, then 2X points)
  • 2x points per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • 15 Elite Night Credits per year
  • 1,000 bonus points per paid stay
  • 1 Free Night Award (up to 50,000 points) when you spend $15,000 on the card in a year
  • No foreign transaction fees (rates and fees)

Cons

  • $250 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Free Night Award certificate is not an automatic benefit
  • Earn 155,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy® points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.
  • Earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets per calendar year, then 2X points).
  • Earn 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1K Bonus Points Per Stay: Earn 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy® bonus points per paid eligible stay booked directly with Marriott for properties participating in Marriott Bonvoy.
  • With complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elites status, earn up to 2.5X points from Marriott Bonvoy® on eligible hotel purchases with the 25% Bonus Points on stays benefit, available for Qualifying Rates.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Free Night Award: Earn 1 Free Night Award after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ Card in a calendar year. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at a hotel participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits: Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card® you can receive 15 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Plan It® is a payment option that lets you split up purchases of $100 or more into equal monthly installments with a fixed fee. Plus, you'll still earn rewards the way you usually do.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms apply.

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 20.99%-29.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

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NEW 185K WELCOME OFFER
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

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.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

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.
Earn 185,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
185,000 bonus points
$1,295
$650
20.99%-29.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

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?

Pros

  • 6x points per $1 at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 3x points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines and restaurants worldwide
  • 2x points per $1 on all other purchases
  • 25 Elite Night Credits each year
  • Priority Pass Select membership upon enrollment
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit
  • Annual Free Night Award after card renewal
  • Complimentary Platinum Elite status

Cons

  • Earn 185,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) in statement credits for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card at restaurants worldwide.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select a Brilliant Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited airport lounge visits to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 20.99%-29.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

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Marriott Bonvoy

Bottom Line: There are plenty of ways to earn United MileagePlus miles, whether you’re looking to transfer from a partner, use a credit card, or take an actual flight. 

United Excursionist Perk Region Definitions

United doesn’t exactly give this benefit a ton of publicity. You’ll only find it when doing a multi-city search that falls under the above qualifications. One of the most important of these to understand is how United defines its regions. This is because your free leg has to both start and end in the same geographic region as defined by United:

SCROLL FOR MORE
RegionCountries in This Region
Mainland U.S., Alaska & CanadaMainland U.S., Alaska & Canada
HawaiiHawaii
MexicoMexico
CaribbeanAntigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman), Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands (British and U.S.)
Central AmericaBelize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Northern South AmericaColombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Southern South AmericaArgentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay
EuropeAlbania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Middle EastAzerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Northern AfricaAlgeria, Canary Islands, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia
Central & Southern AfricaAngola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Réunion Island, Rwanda, South Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
North AsiaChina (Mainland), Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan
Central AsiaAfghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
South AsiaBangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
JapanJapan
OceaniaAmerican Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa
Australia & New ZealandAustralia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island

This is a lot of information to take in at once. But the most important thing to note here is how broad some of these geographic regions are. Yes, you can fly from Paris to London and it’s all in the same region.

But by the rules of the Excursionist Perk, you could fly from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Cape Town, South Africa, which is a 6.5-hour flight. You could also fly from Fiji to French Polynesia without changing regions, or head from Kazakhstan to the Maldives on that complimentary flight.

Does all this make sense? No, not really. Not when countries like Japan and South Korea are separated into different regions. But because of these definitions, we have some room to play with Excursionist Perk flights.

Hot Tip: Be aware that you’ll need to find award availability for these flights, which may be difficult when employing some truly wacky routing. 

How To Use the United Excursionist Perk

In order to complete searches using the Excursionist Perk, you’ll first want to navigate to United’s website. Once there, click Advanced Search.

United advanced search
Image Credit: United Airlines

Once you’re on the advanced search page, select Multi-city. You’ll also want to select Miles rather than Money.

United EWR CDG FRA EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

From here you can input all your flights and dates. Remember, you’ll need at least 3 one-way flights in order to make this work, and they’ll need to be eligible according to United’s rules. After this, simply scroll down and hit Find Flights.

United find flights
Image Credit: United

If you haven’t already logged in, you’ll be prompted to do so at this point. Then, United will give you the results for your search, starting with your first flight (in this example, Newark (EWR) to Paris (CDG)):

United EWR CDG
Image Credit: United Airlines

Once you’ve selected your cabin, you’ll be taken to the results for the next flight. As you can see here, United has already accounted for the Excursionist Perk (Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA)):

United CDG FRA
Image Credit: United Airlines

After selecting your free flight, you’ll then be taken to your final flight (Frankfurt (FRA) to Newark (EWR)):

United FRA EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

Hot Tip: Don’t forget you can use the Excursionist Perk on business and first class flights, too — your first leg just needs to be in one of those cabins. 

United Excursionist Perk Example 1: Long-Haul Flights

We’ve already talked about the standard examples for using the United Excursionist Perk, but there are ways to really maximize this by playing around with United’s rules and region definitions. Let’s take a look at our first example.

Say you wanted to make a grand trip from the U.S. through Africa. You’re only using award miles for this, which means you’re going to want to stretch them as far as you can. One way to maximize this perk is by stretching your free flight out as long and as far as possible using United’s region definitions.

Here’s how your itinerary might look:

  • Flight 1 — Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT)
  • Flight 2 — Cape Town (CPT) to Addis Ababa (ADD)
  • Flight 3 — Addis Ababa (ADD) to Newark (EWR)

And here’s how it looks on the map:

GCmap Excursionist 1
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

For the first leg, you’re looking to fly out of Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT) in South Africa in economy class, which will cost you 40,000 United MileagePlus miles:

United EWR CPT
Image Credit: United Airlines

After South Africa, you’d like to head up to Addis Ababa (ADD) in Ethiopia — though the distance is far and flights aren’t cheap. By using the United Excursionist Perk, you can snag this leg without paying any additional miles:

United CPT ADD
Image Credit: United Airlines

You’re then planning on heading back to Newark (EWR) from Addis Ababa (ADD):

United ADD EWR
Image Credit: United Airlines

All in, you’re out of pocket for a total of 80,000 miles plus ~$80 in taxes and fees. But what have you saved by maximizing the Excursionist Perk? The cash cost of that second-segment flight would be $587:

Google flights CPT ADD
Image Credit: Google Flights

As you can see, it’s a pretty pricey 6.5-hour flight. But what about in terms of miles?

United CPT ADD miles
Image Credit: United Airlines

Without using the Excursionist Perk, you’d instead be forking over 19,300 miles for that same flight. If you understand how United defines its regions, you can get great value when employing the Excursionist Perk.

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FlightCost in Miles:
EWR-CPT
Cost in Miles:
CPT-ADD
Cost in Miles:
ADD-EWR
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk40,000040,00080,000
Without Excursionist Perk40,00019,30040,00099,300

Bottom Line: Maximizing United’s geographic regions can net you free flights that would be otherwise long and pricey without the United Excursionist Perk.  

United Excursionist Perk Example 2: Maximizing U.S. Flights

The above example is a good way to get value, but we can stretch this even further by taking a long, hard look at United’s rules for the Perk. For this example, we want to focus on these 2 rules in particular:

  • The Excursionist Perk cannot be used in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel started. 
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.

What does the above mean, in practice? It means if you’re starting out in the U.S., your free flight cannot take place in the U.S. It also means that your final flight must end in the U.S. Other than that, however, you can go wild.

Now let’s say that you still want to go to Africa, except you’ve decided you’re going to be in Angola and then head to Seychelles. (No, we don’t know what kind of trip you’re on either, but bear with us.)

Both of these locations are within the same region as we’ve outlined above, which means we can use the Excursionist Perk to get from Angola to Seychelles. But let’s say you don’t have enough miles to fly all the way to Africa first. Or perhaps you found an awesome paid fare that you’re wanting to take advantage of — whatever the reason, you don’t want to use your United MileagePlus miles to get all the way to Africa.

You can still take advantage of the Excursionist Perk to score that free flight by flying short-haul inexpensive United flights within the U.S.

Here’s what your itinerary might look like:

  • Flight 1 — Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Flight 2 — Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ)
  • Flight 3 — Las Vegas (LAS) to Los Angeles (LAX)

And here’s how these flights look on the map:

GCmap Excursionist 2
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

Here’s a nonstop flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS) that will cost you 5,000 miles in economy or 25,500 miles in first:

United LAX LAS
Image Credit: United Airlines

Now let’s add in our second one-way flight — the one we really want — from Luanda (LAD) in Angola to Victoria (SEZ) in Seychelles:

United Angola Seychelles
Image Credit: United Airlines

And finally, our third one-way leg, from Las Vegas (LAS) back to Los Angeles (LAX):

United LAS LAX
Image Credit: United Airlines

Our total out-of-pocket cost for these three flights? 10,000 miles and ~$64 in taxes and fees in economy class. Here’s what the routing looks like:

United advanced search 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

So why in the world would you want to do this instead of just booking the Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ) flight itself? Because it’s cheaper.

Here’s the cost for just that flight:

United LAD SEZ
Image Credit: United Airlines

So not only do you get a round-trip flight to Vegas with the Excursionist Perk, but you’ll also save yourself 9,300 miles when booking all 3 of those flights together versus booking that Luanda (LAD) to Victoria (SEZ) flight by itself.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget you can use these trips across all regions, including Asia, Europe, South America, and more, as long as you abide by United’s region definitions. 

For reference, the cash cost of the second-segment flight in economy class is $709:

Ethiopian LAD SEZ
Image Credit: Google Flights

In total, these flights could run you hundreds of dollars — or 10,000 just United MileagePlus miles.

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FlightCost in Miles:
LAX-LAS
Cost in Miles:
LAD-SEZ
Cost in Miles:
LAS-LAX
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk5,00005,00010,000
Without Excursionist Perk5,00019,3005,00029,300

Bottom Line: The first and third legs of your flights using the United Excursionist Perk can be low-cost options in the U.S., which can save you huge amounts of miles versus booking your flights individually.

United Excursionist Perk Example 3: Stacking Simultaneous Bookings

Now, maybe you’ve got a couple of trips coming up, and you’re wondering how you can maximize the Excursionist Perk on all of them. As it’s written, it can be difficult to finagle a complete trip out of 1 booking. But what about 2? Let’s look.

There’s no rule against holding more than 1 award booking at a time, which means with 2 simultaneous bookings, you can create 3 different trips.

For this example, your itinerary might look like this:

  • Flight 1 — San Francisco (SFO) to Reno (RNO)
  • Flight 2 — London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN)
  • Flight 3 — Charlotte (CLT) to Washington, D.C. (IAD)

Here’s what these flights look like on the map (remember, these are round-trip bookings):

GCmap Excusrionist 3
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

How can you do this as cheaply as possible? By using the United Excursionist Perk twice, you can turn your 6 one-way tickets into 3 round-trip tickets. Let’s check out a sample routing.

For your first multi-city itinerary, you’ll book San Francisco (SFO) to Reno (RNO), London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN) in Armenia, and Charlotte (CLT) to Washington, D.C. (IAD):

United Multi City 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

Your second multi-city itinerary is going to be your way back, so you’ll book Reno (RNO) to San Francisco (SFO), Yerevan (EVN) to London (LHR), and Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Charlotte (CLT):

United Multi City 2
Image Credit: United Airlines

As long as you match the dates up correctly, you can take advantage of these simultaneous bookings in order to maximize your free flights. As you can see above, you’ve got a 3-night stay in Reno, a 14-night stay in Yerevan, and a 5-night stay in Washington, D.C.

Your total out-of-pocket cost for all of these flights? 23,000 miles and ~$250 in taxes and fees.

For reference, the cost of that London (LHR) to Yerevan (EVN) flight on its own is around $330 in cash or 30,500 miles and ~$229 in taxes and fees:

United LHR EVN
Image Credit: United Airlines

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FlightCost in Miles:
SFO-RNO, RNO-SFO
Cost in Miles:
LHR-EVN, EVN-LHR
Cost in Miles:
IAD-CLT, CLT-IAD
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk11,500011,50023,000
Without Excursionist Perk11,50030,55011,50053,550

Bottom Line: You can hold multiple bookings using the United Excursionist Perk in order to craft round-trip itineraries. 

United Excursionist Perk Example 4: Premium Transcontinental Flights

For our final example, we’re going to go ahead and flip this around. As we mentioned above, your travel must begin and end in the same region. Your free flight must also take place in a separate region.

But what happens if you start your flights outside North America? Ever wanted to try out United’s Polaris product on a flight across the U.S.?

Here’s what your itinerary might look like:

  • Flight 1 — Madrid (MAD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Flight 2 —  Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Flight 3 — Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA)

Here’s how these appear on the map:

GCMap Excursionist 4
Image Credit: Great Circle Mapper

Let’s say you started in Europe and took a business-class flight from Madrid (MAD) to Frankfurt (FRA):

United MAD FRA
Image Credit: United Airlines

Your second leg — the one using the Excursionist Perk — can then be in the U.S., including United’s Premium transcontinental routes. For this example, we’ve booked Polaris from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX):

United EWR LAX
Image Credit: United Airlines

Just remember that your final leg has to be in Europe somewhere — in this example, we’ve booked an economy flight from Paris (CDG) to Frankfurt (FRA). There is such a thing as throwaway ticketing, which is the practice of booking a leg of a flight that you don’t intend to use, but this is a risky maneuver and not one we support.

United CDG FRA 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

Here’s the total cost for all your flights, including that leg in Polaris from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX):

United Multi City 3
Image Credit: United Airlines

The award cost of that single transcontinental flight from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) is 35,000 miles:

United EWR LAX 1
Image Credit: United Airlines

And the cash cost is $639:

United EWR LAX Google Flights
Image Credit: Google Flights

Of course, these numbers don’t take into account the cost of those 2 other European flights, which add even more value to your redemption.

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FlightCost in Miles:
MAD-FRA
Cost in Miles:
EWR-LAX
Cost in Miles:
CDG-FRA
Total Cost in Miles
With Excursionist Perk27,50005,50033,000
Without Excursionist Perk27,50035,0005,50068,000

Final Thoughts

The United Excursionist Perk is a powerful tool when you know how to operate it. Although it’s not a secret — plenty of people know about it, after all — its hidden workings allow savvy travelers to extract a ton of value from this benefit. Just be sure to read and reread United’s geographic definitions as well as the rules for the Perk. After that, well, see how far you can go!

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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use the United Excursionist Perk?

The United Excursionist Perk is available on specific flight itineraries including at least 3 one-way flights. When your search falls within the parameters United sets, the system will automatically enable the Perk for you.

How does the United Excursionist Perk work?

The United Excursionist Perk is a way for United to give its members a free stopover on multi-city tickets. You’ll need to be flying at least 3 flights that fall under United’s rule for Excursionist Perk flights in order to take advantage of this benefit.

How many times can I use the United Excursionist Perk?

There is no limit to the number of times you can use the Excursionist Perk, though you’ll only receive 1 complimentary flight on your multi-city ticket, no matter how many stops you have booked. You’ll need to book additional tickets in order to make use of the Excursionist Perk more than once.

How do you use United Airlines' website to book a free one-way flight using the Excursionist Perk?

In order to search for a flight eligible for the Excursionist Perk, you’ll need to head to United’s website. From there, select Advanced Search and Multi-City. Once you’ve input your dates and destinations, United will automatically display any Excursionist Perk flights.

What are the United Excursionist Perk zones?

There are 17 different zones according to United:

  • Mainland U.S., Alaska & Canada
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Northern South America
  • Southern South America
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • Northern Africa
  • Central & Southern Africa
  • North Asia
  • Central Asia
  • South Asia
  • Japan
  • Oceania
  • Australia & New Zealand

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About Carissa Rawson

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business Insider, Forbes, and more.

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