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.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.


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 39 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 $75 fee for booking awards less than 21 days in advance. 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 has a fair amount of Saver Awards scattered through its calendar, 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 value1.52 cents
Credit cardsUnited TravelBank, United Explorer Card, United MileagePlus Club Card, United MileagePlus Go, United Explorer Business Card, United MileagePlus Club Business
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, credit card annual fee credit, charity
Minimum required to redeem8,000 miles for Saver Awards
Do rewards expire?No
Airline partners28 Star Alliance partners and 11 additional partners
Flight coverageExcellent. 21,000+ daily flights, 1,300+ destinations, 190+ 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
  • $75 fee for booking less than 21 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:

Latest offers from United:

Other news and advice:

What’s up next?

In Products

The Apple Card boasts compelling, user-friendly features: Are they really unique?

Apple Card is boasting user-friendly spend tracking, interest calculation and payment features. Here’s how they stack up against similar features from other card issuers.

Published: August 27, 2019

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: September 18th, 2019
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

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.

The editorial content on 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.