The Ultimate Guide to the United MileagePlus Program

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Last updated on June 9th, 2022

United Airlines is a founding member of the Star Alliance. It is also one of the world’s largest airlines, with an ever-expanding list of destinations worldwide. MileagePlus is United’s loyalty program, offering its members big rewards. Here’s everything you need to know about the United Airlines MileagePlus program.

mileageplus guide

What is MileagePlus?

MileagePlus is the loyalty program of United Airlines – one of the largest carriers in the United States. United rewards miles can be earned on any fares booked with the airline, both domestically and internationally.

There are several tiers to the MileagePlus program, called Premier levels. When you enroll in a credit card rewards program that is co-branded with United Airlines, you are automatically registered at the most basic level of the program.

There are four Premier levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and 1K. These Premier statuses will qualify you for mileage bonuses, seat upgrades, complimentary checked baggage, priority check-in, and many other benefits, including discounted and waived fees. Every Premier level affords you different benefits and bonuses, so the more you spend with United Airlines, the more you’ll receive.

How Much Are United MileagePlus Miles Worth?

0
cents per mile

MileagePlus miles vary in value, depending on the award option and the state of the airline industry. Because mile valuations change, make sure you check back regularly for the latest estimations.

United MileagePlus miles have a current value of approximately 1.3 cents per mile, though this can rise to over 2 cents per mile for generous award options.

How to Earn MileagePlus Miles

Earning Miles with Flights

Perhaps the simplest and quickest way to earn miles as a MileagePlus member is by air travel with United Airlines.

Each time you purchase eligible fare and travel on flights that are operated by United or United Express, you’ll earn miles that are automatically deposited to your MileagePlus account. How you earn miles will depend on the type of ticket purchased, as well as the ticketing airline and the operating airline.

Miles also depend on your status within the MileagePlus program, with Basic members earning fewer miles than Premier 1K members (the highest tier):

Basic

5X miles per dollar spent

Silver

7X miles per dollar spent

Gold

8X miles per dollar spent

Platinum

9X miles per dollar spent

1K

11X miles per dollar spent

Miles earned on flights only apply to the ticket price and airline fees. Other charges, such as government fees, fuel surcharges, and taxes, do not earn MileagePlus miles.

Mile Boost Based on Fare Class

MileagePlus miles are also accrued based on the flight distance and the purchased fare class. For specialty tickets for flights operated by United or United Express, and for flights ticketed and operated by a Star Alliance or MileagePlus partner airline, members earn miles at a rate that is calculated based on a percentage of the flight distance.

Star Alliance partners award MileagePlus miles based on a calculation that involves the price and class of the ticket along with the flight distance; rewards miles will vary by Star Alliance partner.

Earning Miles with United Airlines Partners

MileagePlus members can also earn points when they spend money with United Airlines partners, including:

  • Hotels: MileagePlus miles can be earned at most major hotel chains; Earn 2X miles at each property that participates in the United Hotels program. Rewards earning varies by hotel. Otherwise, you’ll earn a flat rate that depends on the hotel you’ve booked a stay at. For more details, visit United’s Hotel Partners page.
  • Dining: When you register a credit (or debit) card with the MileagePlus Dining program, you’ll be able to earn miles when you dine at over 10,000 participating restaurants, bars, and clubs – but only when you pay for your meal with the card you’ve registered. You’ll earn up to 5 miles per dollar spent, and this includes tax and tip!
  • Rental Cars: MileagePlus members can earn up to 1,250 award miles for each qualifying car rental. Partners include Hertz, Dollar Rent A Car, Thrifty, Groundlink, ExecuCar, and much more.
  • Ground Transportation: Members also earn points when booking with SuperShuttle, Carmel, Bandwagon, and other ground transportation services.
  • Shopping: MileagePlus members earn miles based on making purchases through the dedicated MileagePlus shopping portal, where points are earned for making purchases with hundreds of leading brands.

Earning MileagePlus Miles With Credit Cards

An easy way to earn additional MileagePlus miles is by applying for a United Airlines co-branded credit card. Issued through Chase Bank, these Visa cards offer excellent introductory bonuses when a spending limit is achieved during an opening period, usually either in 3 months of opening an account or within the first year.

Additionally, cardholders can earn extra miles on top of the rewards earned through the methods mentioned above by qualifying for MileagePlus elite status. Each card offer has its own set of benefits and perks, and the miles earned by using each card will vary.

It’s worth pointing out that Chase cardmembers can earn additional rewards that are not available to general MileagePlus program members. Additionally, some cards might charge an annual fee.

Current United MileagePlus Credit Cards

Personal Credit Cards

Card Features

United Gateway Card
  • Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent on purchases from United
  • Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including ride share services, taxicabs, train tickets, tolls, and mass transit
  • Earn 1 mile for each $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • $0 annual fee

United℠ Explorer Card
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, including tickets, Economy Plus®, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • Earn 2X miles per $1 spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel
  • Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck®
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi onboard United®-operated flights
  • Free first checked bag – save up to $140 per roundtrip
  • $95 annual fee ($0 first year)

United Quest℠ Card
  • Earn 3X miles on United purchases
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel purchases
  • Earn 2X miles on select streaming services and dining
  • Receive up to $125 in statement credits each account anniversary year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Priority boarding
  • $250 annual fee

United Club℠ Infinite Card
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases including tickets, Economy Plus, inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and other United charges
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $320 per roundtrip. Terms Apply
  • $525 annual fee

Business Credit Cards

Card Key features Annual fee

United℠ Business Card
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Plus, employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account so you can earn rewards faster
  • Enjoy a free first checked bag - a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip (terms apply), 2 United Club℠ one-time passes per year, and priority boarding privileges
  • $100 United® travel credit after 7 United® flight purchases of $100 or more each anniversary year
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99 (employee cards at no extra cost)

United Club℠ Business Card
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent directly with United, including tickets, Economy Plus, in-flight food, beverages, and Wi-Fi
  • Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • First and second checked bags are free for cardholder and one companion
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Complimentary United Club membership
$450 (employee cards at no extra cost)

Former United Credit Cards

United TravelBank Card (No longer available to new applicants)

United Club Business Card (No longer available to new applicants)

United Platinum Class Visa ((No longer available to new applicants)

 

Transfer Points from Chase Ultimate Rewards

United MileagePlus is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Members can transfer their Ultimate Rewards (UR) points to top-off their loyalty points total for even more comfortable journey with the carrier.

Chase Ultimate Rewards apply to the following card offers from JP Morgan Chase:

Interestingly, Chase UR points can also be earned by converting cash back rewards via Chase’s Freedom family of credit cards. This means that cardmembers of the following credit cards can use their cash back and convert that into UR points:

Unfortunately, Chase Freedom credit cards feature no annual fee, meaning that while users can convert cash back to UR, those UR points cannot transfer to transfer partners – including MileagePlus. The Chase credit card must feature a premium annual fee to redeem UR points as airline points, like the Sapphire cards.

Do Miles Expire?

No

Miles in the MileagePlus program never expire.

How to Redeem MileagePlus Miles

There are several redemption options for MileagePlus miles. The most common is to redeem rewards for flights, either with United Airlines directly or through Star Alliance partners. Bonuses also apply to several other airline partners, retail, and travel options.

Flights with United Airlines

The easiest way to use miles is through award ticket and flight bookings with United. To use points for flights, members need to book their flight at United.com and choose to pay with points. United Airlines offers several tiers of award seats; the better the seat, the more miles you will need to spend on qualifying for the seat. You will trade these awards as one-way flights.

Don’t just redeem miles for free flights with United Airlines, if that’s not your preference. Miles also apply to upgrade your seats to a premium class. Upgrades, like award seats, are based on a one-way flight; each upgrade’s cost depends on the face class of the ticket you currently hold.

Types of Award Seats

MileagePlus currently offers two types of award seat: Saver Awards and Everyday Awards:

  • Saver Awards: More economical, with redemption flights starting from 5,000 to 12,000 miles. These low-cost award flights have lower availability, making them difficult to book.
  • Everyday Awards: More availability – at a higher price. Everyday Award flights offer unrestricted access for elite-tier MileagePlus members.

Flights with Star Alliance Partners

You can also redeem miles with Star Alliance partners. In addition, miles are redeemable with a handful of other non-alliance airline partners.

Although some restrictions may apply, generally MileagePlus members can both earn and redeem MileagePlus miles with Star Alliance partners.

For a full list of Star Alliance airline members, check out our Ultimate Star Alliance Guide.

Other Airline Partners

Azul Brazilian Airlines Great Lakes Airlines Hawaiian Airlines Aeromar
Cape Air Aer Lingus Silver Airways Air Dolomiti
Boutique Air Olympic Air Edelweiss Eurowings

Other United Partners

Members can also redeem their miles on select flights with dozens of other United partners, including:

  • Hotels: Looking for a brand-name hotel to stay at while you’re away? Look no further; you can redeem your MileagePlus miles for stays at brand-name hotels and resorts worldwide. Select hotel partners include:
choice hotels guide

Choice Hotels

wundham rewards hotel guide

Wyndham Resorts

bonvoy program guide

Marriott

world of hyatt logo

Hyatt Hotels

radisson rewards guide

Radisson

ihg hotel rewards guide

InterContinental Hotels

  • Rental Cars: Apply miles towards booking a rental car with Hertz, Dollar, and car rental partners.
  • Cruises: Use award miles to book cruises on more than 25 cruise lines.
  • Shopping: Use miles to purchase thousands of products, including Apple products, housewares, electronics, jewelry, and more.

Guide to the MileagePlus Program Elite Tiers

Like other frequent flyer programs, the MileagePlus program features differing tiers of membership. Apart from the basic tier, there are four elite tiers of membership, known as the Premier levels.

Meeting Elite Tier Requirements

Reaching higher levels requires meeting minimum points and spending requirements. These requirements take the form of PQPs and PQFs.

  • PQP: Premier qualifying points. Members earn PQPs on surcharges, base fares, upgrades, preferred seat purchases, Star Alliance flights, and more.
  • PQF: Premier qualifying flights. Members earn one PQF for every flight segment they fly with United.

United Elite Member Tiers

The Premier tiers break down as follows:

Premier Silver

Premier Silver is the first elite tier in the MileagePlus program, offering enhancements over Basic membership.

Reaching Silver status requires 6 PQF and 2,000 PQP, or 2,500 PQP.

Silver status provides the following benefits to members:

  • Eligibility for complimentary Premier upgrades
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus seats at check-in
  • One free checked bag
  • 7X miles on United purchases

Premier Gold

Reaching Premier Gold status requires 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP, or 5,000 PQP.

Gold status provides the following benefits to members, in addition to the Silver benefits:

  • Star Alliance Gold membership
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus at booking
  • Two free checked bags
  • 8X miles on United purchases

Premier Platinum

Reaching Premier Platinum status requires 18 PQF and 6,000 PQP, or 7,500 PQP.

Platinum status provides the following benefits to members, in addition to the Gold benefits:

  • 40 PlusPoints. PlusPoints are points usable for upgrades whenever you choose.
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus for you and eight companions
  • Three free checked bags
  • 9X miles on United purchases

Premier 1K

Premier 1K is the highest level in the MileagePlus program, offering the pinnacle of perks and service.

Reaching Premier 1K status requires 26 PQF and 9,000 PQP, or 12,000 PQP.

Platinum status provides the following benefits to members, in addition to the Gold benefits:

  • 280 PlusPoints
  • Pre-boarding
  • One free drink and snack in economy class
  • 11X miles on United purchases
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About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

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