12 ways to earn more United Airlines miles

United Airlines offers a lot of great options for piling up miles quickly

Earning United miles


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United MileagePlus is easily one of the most rewarding loyalty programs available, thanks to its elite travel benefits, travel and retail partners, co-branded credit cards, and also mile-earning opportunities. You can earn miles by flying with United Airlines and its partners, but you can also earn miles by shopping, doing business with retail partners or taking advantage of special promotions.

If you’re eager to travel the world on a budget, it’s smart to look at the different ways you can rack up United miles. After all, more miles can mean more travel, travel further from home, or upgrades to business or first class.

Keep reading to learn the best ways to earn more United Airlines miles so you can start planning your dream trip faster. 

1. Sign up for co-branded United Airlines credit cards

One of the fastest ways to earn United Airlines miles is through one of the airline’s co-branded credit cards from Chase. Each of these cards doles out a specific number of airline miles after you get approved for a card and meet a minimum spending requirement within a few months.

The sign-up bonus should be enough for a round-trip domestic flight at the very least.

United Airlines credit card sign-up bonuses

  Sign-up bonus Estimated value

United Explorer Card

  • 40,000 miles if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
  • 25,000 additional miles if you spsend $10,000 in first 6 months
Chase United MileagePlus Club Card
50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months


2. Sign up for Chase Ultimate Rewards cards

Chase offers a handful of rewards cards that let you transfer points 1:1 to the United MileagePlus program. You can sign up for these cards instead of (or in addition to) co-branded United Airlines credit cards from Chase.

These cards are more flexible than United MileagePlus cards since you can transfer points to United or other airline and hotel partners:

  Sign-up bonus Estimated value (United miles)

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Chase Sapphire Reserve
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Ink Business Preferredâ„  Credit Card

80,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months


3. Sign up for SPG or Marriott credit cards

While this may seem out of the ordinary, a few hotel credit cards are good options for earning miles with United MileagePlus. Since Marriott merged with Starwood Preferred Guest, you are now able to transfer points from your combined Marriott Rewards account to United MileagePlus at a 3:1 ratio.

Also note that you’ll receive an extra 15,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles. With United, you also get another 10 percent in bonus points through a program called RewardsPlus.

Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards you could sign up for include:

  Introductory bonus Estimated value (United miles)

Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express Luxury Card

100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Offer ends Oct. 31, 2018)

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Card

75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months


4. Add authorized users to your credit cards

Adding an authorized user to your credit card account is another smart way to rack up more points or miles. Not only will you earn miles on your own purchases, but you will earn points on your authorized user’s purchases as well.

Over time, authorized user purchases can add up in a big way.

5. Get your spouse to sign up for their own cards

Also keep in mind that your spouse or partner could apply for their own credit cards to earn their own sign-up bonuses. This is even true if you live at the same address and have the same card they want to apply for. Both spouses are considered individual customers by card issuers, so you can double up on rewards by getting your partner involved.

6. Use the MileagePlus X app

The MileagePlus X app is a smartphone app that lets consumers earn extra miles on a wide array of purchases. The app works with a broad selection of retailers and restaurants online, but you can also use the app for in-store purchases.

Keep in mind that the miles you earn with the MileagePlus app are in addition to miles you can earn with a rewards card. For that reason, it’s smart to download the app and pair it with a card that lets you earn United Airlines miles or points that transfer to the airline.

7. Sign up for the MileagePlus dining program

Like several other airline loyalty programs, United MileagePlus offers its own dining program that lets you earn miles when you dine at participating restaurants. The program also starts you off with 2,500 bonus miles – 1,000 miles when you spend $25 or more at a participating restaurant and 500 miles for your next three consecutive visits to participating restaurants where you spend $25 or more.  

8. Earn miles by flying

You can earn miles on flights with United Airlines or its partners. United MileagePlus members earn a base rate of 5X miles based on United flights. Elite status members earn miles based on their level of status: Premier Silver (7X miles), Premier Gold (8X miles), Premier Platinum (9X miles) and Premier 1K (11X  miles).

Members also earn award miles based on the flight distance and purchased fare class for certain specialty flights. Furthermore, you can earn varying rates of United miles when you fly with partner airlines and enter your United MileagePlus loyalty number in your reservation.

9. Book hotels and rental cars with United Airlines partners

United Airlines offers a wide selection of hotel and rental car partners that make it easier to rack up miles when you travel. You can earn up to 10,000 miles per night by booking a hotel through Rocketmiles.com, for example. You can also earn United Miles for paid stays with big hotel brands such as InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Radisson and The Ritz-Carlton.

Rental car partners include Hertz, Dollar Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental and several others. If you’re going to book a hotel or rental car anyway, you may as well explore these offers to rack up more miles in the process. 

10. Book a cruise

While most people may not associate United Airlines with cruising, the brand does offer its own cruise portal that lets you earn miles for each cruise you book. While offers change frequently, you may be able to earn up to 100,000 bonus miles on cruises with top brands such as Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.

11. Shop through the United MileagePlus shopping portal

The United MileagePlus shopping portal makes it easy to earn miles each time you make a purchase with a participating retailer. Over 900 stores participate in the portal, including popular options such as Bergdorf Goodman, Macys, Groupon, The Home Depot and The Container Store.

While most participating stores offer 1 to 3 miles per dollar, there are occasionally more lucrative offers. As of this writing, for example, you can earn 20 miles for each dollar spent online at Shari’s Berries or FTD Flowers and Gifts.

Also, make sure to check out other offers through the portal since they change frequently. Right now, you can earn 650 miles for signing up to deliver food through DoorDash.com, or 2,600 miles for opening a new account with Dish Network. Currently, you can also earn 25,000 miles for taking out a home loan with Quicken Loans.

12. Book a vacation package

Finally, you can earn more miles when you book a vacation with airfare and hotel included through United Vacations. While offers change frequently, you can find vacation packages to destinations all over the globe with special discounts and exclusive perks included.

If you want to earn United miles and enjoy a relaxing vacation in the process, make sure to check out United Vacations for bundled vacation options to destinations such as Hawaii, Riviera Maya and the Caribbean.

Bottom line

From credit card bonuses to bonuses through its travel partners, United MileagePlus offers a fair number of ways that you can rack up thousands of miles at once. This is a sampling of your best opportunities for earning miles with United – there are a plethora of additional ways to earn United miles. Do you have a mile-earning tip that you want to share? Leave a comment below.

See Related: How much are United miles worth?, Best United Airlines credit cards, Best ways to redeem United miles, United Airlines partners, United Airlines elite status benefits, A guide to United Club lounges, How to book a United flight with miles

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Updated: 11-15-2018