United Airlines is one of the largest carriers in the United States in terms of passenger volume and fleet size. It’s also a member of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, which gives you access to even more flights worldwide. If you’re a frequent traveler – either domestically or globally – you’ll want to consider joining MileagePlus, regarded as one of the best frequent flyer programs for earning & redeeming points/miles.
Let’s take a closer look at United Airlines MileagePlus below.
|Domestic hubs||Chicago, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington D.C.|
|Personal credit cards||United Club℠ Infinite Card|
United℠ Explorer Card
|Business credit cards||United Club℠ Business Card|
United℠ Business Card
|Redemption options||Award flights, seat upgrades, hotel stays, rental cars, cruise vacations, TSA Precheck, United WiFi, United Club, merchandise, dining, gift cards, experiences, magazines, newspapers, transfer & donate miles.|
|Average mile value||$0.014|
MileagePlus Premier Status
When you sign up for MileagePlus®, you’ll get a basic membership with a frequent flyer number. This allows you to rack up on miles. If you want to enjoy more valuable VIP perks, you’ll have to earn Premier status.
To get Premier status, you need to earn a certain amount of Premier Qualifying Flight (PQF) and a certain amount of Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) within a calendar year.
PQF are earned based on the number of flight segments flown with United or its partners.
PQP are earned based on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharge of flight purchases, along with seating purchases and upgrades. Note: You can earn PQP with eligible MileagePlus credit cards.
The information here is the requirement during normal times. Due to the global travel situation in 2020, United has made several temporary changes to the Premier status program, including reducing the PQF and PQP requirement by half and extending status to January 31, 2022. Please go there for up-to-date information.
|Premier Silver||12 PQF + 4,000 PQP|
or 5,000 PQP*
|Premier Gold||24 PQF + 8,000 PQP|
or 10,000 PQP*
|Premier Platinum||36 PQF + 12,000 PQP|
or 15,000 PQP*
|Premier 1K||54K PQF + 18,000 PQP|
or 24,000 PQP*
*Must also have a minimum of 4 PQF flown on United or United Express.
** Source: United Airlines MileagePlus homepage
In normal times, you’ll have Premier status once you qualify until the end of the following calendar year.
With Premier status, you’ll enjoy:
- Mileage bonuses
- Seat upgrades
- Priority check-in
- Free checked baggage
- Better award seat availability
- Discounted or waived fees
- And more!
Premier Gold status and higher have lounge access when traveling internationally. For more reading on the worth of United Premier Elite status, click here.
Earning MileagePlus Miles With Co-Branded Credit Cards
Earning MileagePlus Miles With Partners and Buying Miles
Earn MileagePlus miles when you fly with United Airlines. The number of miles you’ll get depends on how much you spend and your MileagePlus status level.
|Status Level||Status Bonus||Miles Earned|
|Premier Silver||40%||7x miles|
|Premier Gold||60%||8x miles|
|Premier Platinum||80%||9x miles|
|Premier 1K||120%||11x miles|
Keep in mind, you don’t earn miles on government taxes and fees.
*Source: United Airlines Earning Miles page
Earn MileagePlus miles when you fly with one of United’s 35 partner airlines. The amount of miles you’ll get depends on price, fare class and flight distance.
Star Alliance partners include:
Other airline partners include:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airlines
Source: UAL Airline partners and global alliances page.
Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card credit card, transfer your points to miles at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000-point increments.
Marriott Bonvoy. Thanks to MileagePlus’s special partnership with Marriott Bonvoy, you get 10% more miles when you convert your points to miles. Plus, get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. Minimum to convert is 3,000 points with a maximum of 240,000 points per day.
Hotels. Book your stay directly at 15,000+ partner hotels worldwide or via a partner booking service and earn MileagePlus miles. For a complete list of participating hotels and booking sites, click here.
Transportation. Rack up on MileagePlus miles when you take a cruise, rent a car or use a partner ground transportation service. For more details, click here.
You’ll also earn MileagePlus miles in the following ways:
We generally don’t recommend it, but you can purchase additional miles if you’re short of an award. Usually the price you’d pay is far more than what they’re worth at redemption.
Redeeming MileagePlus Miles
Good news! Recently, United Airlines got rid of the 18-month expiration date on their miles. That means the rewards you earn will remain in your account and available for redemption indefinitely.
Use your MileagePlus miles for award flights with United Airlines. Choose from two different levels of award seats:
Saver Awards are cheaper. However, there are a limited number available.
Everyday Awards are more plentiful, but they also require more miles. Premier status and MileagePlus credit card members are able to book any seat – down to the last one – at the Everyday Awards level.
MileagePlus used to publish an award chart, up until November 15, 2019. The frequent flyer program has since done away with it, pricing award flights based on demand instead.
Take advantage of the Excursionist Perk, a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries. For more information, click here.
Use your MileagePlus miles to fly on any Star Alliance network airline. Choose from over 1,000 destinations worldwide and more than 20,000 daily flights across 28 carriers:
For the most up-to-date list of UAL’s airline partners, click here.
Use your MileagePlus miles to upgrade a paid or award ticket on United Airlines, or a paid ticket on select Star Alliance partners. Upgrade award pricing depends on region of travel, seat type requested, fare class and your Premier status (if applicable).
For more information, click here.
Use your MileagePlus miles for hotel awards, car awards, cruise awards and to enhance your travel with United Airlines. The latter includes the TSA Precheck application fee, a United WiFi subscription and United Club membership.
Other ways you can use your MileagePlus miles include:
|Shopping & Dining||Merchandise awards|
FTD flowers & gifts
|Gift Cards||MileagePlus X gift cards|
MileagePlus eGift cards
|Other||Transfer or give miles|
MileagePlus Tips & Tricks
Award flights. As long as you’re getting at least $0.01 for each MileagePlus miles, we’d say it’s a decent redemption. If you can get more for your miles, even better.
Seat upgrades. Upgrading to a better seat can be another good use for your miles, as long as you’re getting more than $0.01 each mile. In general, upgrading from a cheaper fare class will cost more. Keep in mind, some upgrades to business or first class requires a combination of miles and cash.
Stay away from any redemption that will yield a value lower than $0.01 each mile. That includes hotel stays, car rentals, cruises, gift cards and United Club membership fees.
Open a Chase card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points, and you’ll be able to rack up on loads of rewards you can convert into MileagePlus miles at a 1:1 ratio.
If you have Marriott Bonvoy Titanium elite status, you have free, automatic MileagePlus Premier Silver status – without ever having flown United Airlines.
To obtain Titanium Elite status, you’ll need to earn 75 qualifying nights via Marriott Bonvoy.
If you live near a United Airlines hub, or you can take advantage of the carrier’s many airline partnerships, then joining MileagePlus will be worth your while. There are a variety of ways to earn miles and plenty of ways to burn them. The average MileagePlus mile holds good value. Plus, award booking is easy with no fuel surcharges.
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