How Do United Airlines Miles Work?

United Airlines is one of the US’ Big Three airlines, along with American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It has a wide international network and a variety of domestic and international routes.

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world. It has hubs in the US and other countries. Its loyalty program, United MileagePlus, is also used by other airlines.

If you’re a frequent flier of United Airlines, you should know about its frequent-flyer program.

Whether you fly United several times a year or just occasionally, you can get a free miles reward with its MileagePlus program.

Like other loyalty programs, miles are a type of currency. Understanding how much they are worth can help you make better decisions when it comes to paying for tickets.

Although miles are worth a bit more depending on how they are used, they’re still worth a lot to people depending on their experiences.

Related: How to Get United Airlines Miles and Effectively Used Them?

How Much United MileagePlus Miles Are Worth?

Based on our most recent analysis, which took into account the cost of the ticket and the miles redeemed, NerdWallet values United miles at 1 cent each. To determine the exact value, we divided the cost of the ticket by the miles.

This is the baseline value for United miles, since it takes into account the miles collected from various routes. It’s also the ideal value for award redemptions.

United Airlines miles do not hold a lot of value. They are typically valued at a given time due to their higher cost.

Unlike points and membership rewards programs, airline miles can’t be transferred to other programs. They can also be used on various airlines and hotels.

Unlike Delta and American Airlines, United does not publish an award chart. Instead, it lets you know the prices for your miles based on the date and time of your travel.

Using miles to offset the cost of your travel can be a great way to save money. It’s also beneficial when traveling during times of pandemics or when airlines are selling discounted tickets due to the rise of the global flu pandemic.

To arrive at our valuation, we looked at United’s main routes in cash and miles.

How to Earn United MileagePlus Miles?

There are a variety of ways to earn United miles. Flying with United Airlines or one of its partners is one of the best ways to get started.

United’s frequent-flyer program, known as MileagePlus, uses a currency called miles. They are called miles depending on how much money you spend on tickets.

Earning MileagePlus Miles When You Fly

Depending on how much you spent on a flight, you may earn miles depending on your status within the program. The higher your status, the more you’ll get in bonus payouts.

You can only earn miles if you pay for the tickets using taxes and fees.

You can also earn miles on other airlines if the ticket is purchased through one of United’s partners. The calculation for miles is based on the cost of the ticket and the distance traveled.

Earning United MileagePlus Miles Through Partners

You can also earn miles at major hotel chains through their partner programs. In some cases, you can earn up to 2 miles for every dollar spent.

Use your card at participating restaurants, clubs, and hotels to earn 5 miles per dollar spent.

Hertz-owned car rental agencies, such as Dollar and Thrifty, can also earn miles through their partnership.

Dollar and Thrifty can also give you miles through their partnership with United. They can also earn through their various transportation services.

When you shop at the MileagePlus Shopping mall, you can earn miles for every dollar spent at over 850 retailers.

Buying additional United MileagePlus Miles

You can buy additional miles through the website of United MileagePlus, but it’s generally not a good idea.

Related: Is It Worth Upgrading to Economy Plus on United?

Earning United MileagePlus Miles With a Credit Card

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

The United Explorer Card from Chase is one of the best accounts for the program. It gives you 2 miles for every dollar spent at restaurants, hotels, and purchases made with United. It also has a $95 annual fee.

Like its competitors, United has a co-branded credit card. It can help you earn even more miles if you use it frequently and take advantage of welcome offers.

To get the most miles from United, you need to apply for a credit card that doesn’t carry a United co-brand. This strategy works for people who usually earn miles with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The caveat is that if you carry a balance on your card, the value of your points may be less than the interest you would pay if you used a debit card.

United Gateway℠ Card

The United Gateway Card has a no-annual fee and plenty of perks. It can earn 2x miles on purchases at United, plus 2x miles on gas and local transit.

United℠ Explorer Card

The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but it also has various perks, such as a $25 fee for international purchases and a free checked bag when flying with United.

The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but it also has plenty of perks. Some of these include a $25 fee for international purchases and a free checked bag.

United Quest℠ Card

The United Quest Card comes with a $250 annual fee. This card can earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

The card comes with various perks, such as a $25 statement credit from United Airlines, priority boarding, and free checked bags. It also has a 3 miles per dollar fee on all purchases made at United.

How to Redeem United MileagePlus Miles?

United MileagePlus miles can be used for flights through United’s Star Alliance and its other airlines.

In November 2021, United launched a new method called Money + Miles, which allows members of the program to pay for domestic flights using a combination of cash and miles. By entering your details, you’ll be able to divide your desired number of miles into three, and then cover the rest with cash.

Two Types of Award Seats

Saver Awards seats are cheaper than standard economy tickets, but they’re usually not available for every flight.

Elite customers with United’s Premier status have access to the same book seats as everyone else.

United discontinued its award chart for flights in November 2019. You can still expect to see lower prices with miles, as long as they’re available.


Getting upgraded to a premium class can be a good use of miles. Most upgrades require a cash co-pay, though they can also be done using miles.

Bad redemption options

Generally, avoid using miles for lower than 1 cent per mile. There are also other bad options such as hotel stays and car rentals.

Related: 15 The Best Ways To Use Your United MileagePlus Miles

United MileagePlus Program Status Levels

Even though it’s free to join, the real perks come when you reach the elite levels of the program.

With Premier status, you’ll receive various benefits and perks, such as priority check-in, seat upgrades, and discounted fees and accommodations. If you get Gold or better, you’ll also receive lounge access.

Some of the most valuable perks that elite status holders have are available through some of the company’s co-branded cards.

How to Earn Elite Status in MileagePlus?

To become a Premier elite member, you need to earn enough miles to fly often and spend money on purchases.

PQPs are earned on base fare, carrier surcharges, preferred seat purchases, and other expenses.

You don’t need to do this math yourself, but United does it for its online account. It shows the fares for each flight segment and its letter codes.

People who pay for a flight using frequent flyer miles are not credited with PQPs and PQFs.

Since United can’t tell you how much money you spent on a flight with Star Alliance partners, PQPs will be earned based on the amount of miles you earned.

To qualify for Premier status, you need to spend at least $1,000 on flights within the previous calendar year. It can last for up to 12 months. For instance, if you earned Premier Silver status in 2020, you’ll keep it until 2021.

Seattle to Denver in June

We’re looking at a four-day stay in June at a major United hub, Denver. The economy class trip would cost you $216, while the first class would set you back $550.

The price of the trip based on miles is calculated using the value of an economy class award, which is what most people buy. We did not include taxes and fees and didn’t take into account fully refundable economy, which is a popular option among leisure travelers.

Newark to Tel Aviv in October

To see how much miles it would cost to fly from Newark to Tel Aviv in October 2021, we looked at the route using the value of a mile.

Premium economy is for people who want to stay in business class but still have the same legroom as first class.

This summer, United gave away domestic awards at some of its major hub cities. These are typically around 2 to 3 cents per mile, and tickets that are less than 9,700 miles round-trip are extremely attractive.