United MileagePlus Dining guide

Earn a vacation from just a few months of dining out

 

United MileagePlus Dining Guide

#

Have you ever wondered how some people who don’t travel for work manage to accumulate enough award miles to travel to fabulous destinations around the world? There are a few exciting ways to accelerate your mileage earnings, and one of those options is through dining rewards programs such as the United MileagePlus Dining program.

What is United MileagePlus Dining? 

The United MileagePlus Dining Program offers up to 5 miles for each dollar you spend with restaurants, bars and clubs within the United MileagePlus network (on top of the points or miles that you earn with the credit card that you use to pay your tab). All it takes is your United MileagePlus frequent flyer number and your favorite credit or debit card to get started.

You just need to register your credit card number so the program can recognize when you’ve used that card in a participating restaurant. No other information is collected, and there are no fees for signing up or participating in the United MileagePlus Dining Program.

As an added benefit, your earnings with MileagePlus Dining count as activity on your MileagePlus account and prevent the rest of your miles from expiring, even if you haven’t flown with United for a while and don’t have a United credit card.

How to join United MileagePlus Dining

  1. Sign up for free. The first step is incredibly simple: Just sign up for free via United’s United MileagePlus Dining Program website, using your United MileagePlus login.
  2. Register your credit cards. After you’ve created an account, the site will prompt you to register your various credit cards and debit cards. While you won’t have to enter in any credit card identifying details, registering the number on your card allows the system to track when the card is swiped at participating restaurants, crediting you for your purchase. Again, the United MileagePlus Dining Program will never charge you for participation or membership.
  3. Start dining out. Once you’ve signed up through the website, you can immediately start using the program to earn bonus miles on your restaurant purchases. You can use the MileagePlus Dining program’s search function to find your next meal out.

How to use United MileagePlus Dining

Once your account is set up, the fun part begins! You can earn extra miles by eating out (or carrying out) at more than 10,000 participating restaurants, bars and clubs nationwide whenever you use a credit card that’s registered under your United MileagePlus Dining account. To get the most out of the program, you should get familiar with the list of eligible restaurants by checking the website and using the search function at the top of the home page.

The search function is quite handy, as it not only suggests participating restaurants near your work or home, but also breaks down the average price of an entree; the establishment’s distance from your location; the type of cuisine offered; and provides ratings and reviews from other members. You’ll also see a little chart on the right side of the page that shows the days on which you can earn United MileagePlus Dining rewards. 

You might be surprised by the restaurants in the list; you don’t have to spend loads of money at fine-dining establishments to accumulate miles. For instance, Jack in the Box is a participating restaurant in many areas, which means that even $10 spent at your favorite on-the-go lunch stop can get you closer to that Hawaiian vacation.  

Screenshot of United MileagePlus Dining search results

The United MileagePlus website lets you search for restaurants by distance, location, price range and type of cuisine. 

At what rate do you earn miles with MileagePlus Dining?

Here’s the breakdown on potential earnings, from the United MileagePlus Dining Program website:

 
 If you don’t opt in to receive emails 1 mile per $2
 If you opt in to receive emails 3 miles per $1
 If you opt in to receive emails and complete 11 qualified transactions in a calendar year 5 miles per $1

How to maximize United MileagePlus Dining

  • Register as many cards as you can with the program. That way, if you accidentally forget your credit card at work one day and have to use your debit card instead, you’ll still accrue miles.
  • Provide a valid email address, and sign up for the United MileagePlus Dining Program email communications. You’ll see from our chart above that members in the highest tier earn the most miles per dollar – up to 5 miles after opting in to email communications and making 11 transactions. Without opting in, you’ll only earn 1 mile per $2.
  • Skim your email communications to make sure you’re maximizing your earning opportunities. For example, United may offer bonus miles for dining out a certain number of times within a particular month or for dining with specific restaurants.
  • Check the list of participating restaurants before you dine out. If you’re feeling indecisive, you can pull up the United MileagePlus Dining Program website and let your earning potential decide the cuisine for the night.
  • Hit 11 qualifying transactions as soon as possible to reach the maximum earning rate. Use the dining search tool to find the restaurants near you that best fit your lifestyle. Visit those restaurants as often as possible until you’ve reached the 11-visit threshold.
  • Charge the whole meal to your credit card, and let others reimburse you. Whether you’re entertaining professional clients for lunch, or treating friends and family out to dinner on the town, you will earn miles on every dollar you spend with participating restaurants. Save everyone the hassle of splitting the bill on the spot – put down your pre-registered card, and let everyone Venmo you the cash while you earn all the miles.
  • Update your credit card registration with the United MileagePlus Dining Program whenever you get a new credit card in the mail. Whether you’ve requested a replacement after losing your card, or simply because you switched cards, your earning potential is only as robust as your usage of the right cards. So take the extra five seconds to make sure your account is always up-to-date.

Which credit cards can you use with United MileagePlus Dining?

There are many dining programs out there, but you’ll only be able to register your card with one program at a time; you can’t double-dip or triple-dip by earning miles with MileagePlus Dining while also earning miles with American Airlines and Southwest dining programs for the same transaction.

However, there are other ways to maximize your potential reward earning opportunities. Many credit cards offer double points on dining, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card, and can also be stacked with the United MileagePlus Dining program.

According to The Points Guy, these are the best restaurant-friendly credit cards to register with United MileagePlus Dining:

Credit Card Rewards for Dining  Annual Fee  
Chase Sapphire Preferred
2x points $95, $0 first year
Chase Sapphire Reserve
3x points $450
Uber Visa 4x points $0
American Express Premier Rewards Gold
2x points $195
Capital One Savor
3% cash back $0
Citi Prestige
2x points

$450

Citi ThankYou Premier
2x points $95, $0 first year
Citi ThankYou Preferred
2x points $0

You can register your debit cards with MileagePlus Dining as well. Even if you have a robust credit card system, you might find yourself only holding a debit card in a pinch for a variety of reasons. In those moments, you can relax knowing that your spend isn’t entirely wasted, and that you’ll still be earning miles through MileagePlus Dining.

United MileagePlus Dining sign-up bonus

In addition to your per-dollar earning potential, you may be eligible for sign-up bonuses when you register for the United MileagePlus Dining program.

With the current offer, you can earn up to 2,000 miles in your first 30 days of membership:

  • 1,000 miles when you spend $25 or more on your first participating restaurant visit in the first 30 days
  • 1,000 additional miles when you spend $100 at participating restaurants in the first 30 days

Note that there is a limit of one bonus-qualifying visit per restaurant, per day.

United MileagePlus Dining Restaurants

The restaurants below offer just a taste of your dining options amongst the thousands of participating restaurants in the United MileagePlus Dining Program. If you want to search for nearby restaurants in your neighborhood – including newly opened restaurants – check out the search tool here.

  • BRIO Tuscan Grille
  • Buca di Beppo
  • Captain D’s
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
  • Jack in the Box
  • Souper Salad
  • Which Wich

Related stories: MileagePlus X: A unique, mobile way to earn miles on United, Examine partners to earn more United milesReady for your first airline card? Ask yourself these questions first


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.


Updated: 07-17-2018