All-New Ultimate Guide to United Airlines Miles: Part 1 – Introduction

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United Airlines miles are easy to earn with credit cards and flying.  And they’re super flexible, because you can redeem them for award seats on United Airlines, Star Alliance partners like Singapore Airlines and Air Canada, and other partner airlines, like Aer Lingus.

You don’t even need to fly United Airlines to earn United Airlines miles!   Instead, you can trfansfer flexible points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, or earn them directly with United Airlines-branded credit cards.

I’ve previously covered United Airlines miles, but lots has changed in the past few years.  So it’s time for an update!

All New Ultimate Guide To United Airlines Miles Part 1 Introduction
Redeem United Airlines Miles to Fly to Places Like Grand Cayman on Air Canada

I’ll give you a quick overview of United Airlines miles, and explain how to earn and use their miles for award travel.

All-New Ultimate Guide to United Airlines Miles Series Index

Introduction to United Airlines Miles

United Airlines runs their own frequent flyer program, MileagePlus.  You can earn United Airlines miles by flying United Airlines or their airline partners.

Because United Airlines is part of Star Alliance, the largest global airline alliance, you can book award travel on any Star Alliance partner airline:

You can also book award travel on airlines outside Star Alliance, including:

The best thing about United Airlines is they don’t charge fuel surcharges on any airline!  This can save you hundreds of dollars compared to other frequent flyer programs, like Delta or Air Canada Aeroplan.

Earning United Airlines Miles

It’s easy to earn United Airlines miles by flying on United Airlines or their partner airlines, or through sign-up bonuses and spending on credit cards.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points convert instantly to United Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio.  You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the no longer available Chase Ink Plus & Ink Bold.

And if you have one of the cards mentioned above, you can combine points from the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Business Cash Credit Card and move them to United Airlines at the same ratio.

Or you can earn United Airlines miles directly from these credit cards:

  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • United℠ Business Card
  • United Club℠ Infinite Card
  • United Club Business Card

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

You can also transfer Starwood points to United Airlines.  But it’s not usually a good deal because the transfer ratio is 2:1.  However, there’s a workaround that can get you an improved ratio.

Using United Airlines Miles

You can redeem United Airlines miles for one-way or round-trip award travel.  You can also visit multiple cities on a single ticket using the Excursionist Perk, which I’ll review in a later post.

All New Ultimate Guide To United Airlines Miles Part 1 Introduction
Use United Airlines Miles to Travel One-Way or Round-Trip, or Use the Excursionist Perk

Unfortunately, United Airlines charges a fee to book award seats within 21 days of departure.  If you don’t have elite status with United Airlines, you’ll pay $75 per ticket if booked under 21 days.

However, this fee is reduced or entirely removed depending on your elite status, and there’s even a trick to avoid it entirely!

Best Uses for United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines Award Chart

There several sweet spots on the United Airlines award chart, which I’ll explain in more detail later.  But here are a few examples:

  • 80,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class from the mainland US, Alaska, or Canada to Africa on South African Airways or other partners
  • 80,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class from the mainland US, Alaska, or Canada to Australia and New Zealand on United Airlines
  • 8,000 United Airlines miles one-way in coach for short non-stop flights outside the US and Canada under 800 miles

Considering you won’t pay fuel surcharges, you can often get incredible value using United Airlines miles for award seats on United Airlines and partner airlines.

Bottom Line

United Airlines miles are easy to earn and redeem!  You can use them for award travel with no fuel surcharges all around the world.

You can earn United Airlines miles by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points, from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred.  Or earn them directly from cards like the United Explorer Card.

In the next post, I’ll explain how to open a United Airlines account for free online.  Stay tuned!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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