United MileagePlus guide: The best ways to earn and use United miles


Read our comprehensive guide to United MileagePlus to learn about the best ways to earn, redeem and maximize United miles.

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For world travelers looking to fly with miles, the United MileagePlus program may offer the best combination of travel options, value and flexibility in routing out of any airline loyalty program. Not only can you use miles on United’s worldwide fleet, but you have your choice of 37 airline partners to use your miles (as well as elite status benefits) on.

What is United MileagePlus?

United MileagePlus is the loyalty program of United Airlines, rewarding its frequent flyers with airline miles that they can redeem for awards, including free flights on United or one of its Star Alliance partners, gift cards, merchandise and more.

There are many advantages to the MileagePlus program: United’s flight network is huge, United’s award routing rules are a little more generous than average (allowing you to book a free stopover on certain itineraries), MileagePlus doesn’t add fuel surcharges to any of its flights and, best of all, United miles can be extremely valuable when used the right way.

There are a few drawbacks, too. There are many fees for booking, changing and canceling flights with United, including a booking fee of between 2,000 and 3,500 miles if you book with awards less than 30 days in advance. Even worse, these mileage booking fees even apply to MileagePlus members with elite status.

Also, MileagePlus Saver Awards – which can be a really great redemption value – are limited in availability. Meanwhile, United’s alternative to Saver Awards – Everyday Awards – are widely available but very expensive. United generally has a fair amount of Saver Awards available, but, still, if you don’t have the flexibility to check multiple dates and times, you might give the MileagePlus program a pass.

Read on for a full overview of the United MileagePlus program, including how to earn and redeem miles for the most value.

United program overview

Type of currencyMiles
Average point value1.50 cents
Credit cardsUnited TravelBank, United℠ Explorer Card, United Club℠ Infinite Card, United℠ Business Card, United Club Business Card
Redemption optionsAirfare, airline statement credits, hotels, car rentals, cruises, TSA PreCheck credit, in-flight wi-fi credit, United Club membership, merchandise, gift cards, gas discounts, magazines/newspaper subscriptions, experiences, event awards, Broadway shows, restaurant gift cards, airport dining, charity
Minimum required to redeemVaries
Do rewards expire?No
Airline partners25 Star Alliance partners and 12 additional partners
Flight coverageExcellent. 19,000+ daily flights, 1,300+ destinations, 195+ countries
Booking restrictions
  • No blackout dates, but Saver Awards are capacity-controlled. Everyday Awards are available for most flights.
  • Roundtrip, one-way, open-jaw and multicity itineraries permitted
  • Book a free stopover with the Excursionist Perk
  • 2,000-3,500 mile fee for booking less than 30 days before departure
  • $75-$125 fee for changing or canceling an award ticket
  • Hold an award seat for up to 7 days for a fee
  • $25 fee for phone bookings
  • No fuel surcharges on MileagePlus awards
Best for
  • Frequent United flyers
  • World travelers
  • Travelers who like to maximize the value of their miles
  • Travelers who have some flexibility in their scheduling
  • Travelers seeking fairly flexible routing from an airline awards program
  • Frequent travelers who can take advantage of the wide availability of lounges and elite travel perks

The basics:

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