United MileagePlus Program Overview: Maximizing Your Travel Benefits

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Looking for ways to travel more or get the most out of your trip?

Travel is now just a click away for members of the United MileagePlus program, offering access to remarkable travel offers. United Miles, a cornerstone of the United MileagePlus program, enables members to apply points earned towards the vacation of their dreams, upgrade current travel plans, or enjoy discounts in favorite stores.

This comprehensive guide covers the unique aspects of the United MileagePlus program, detailing how United miles work, the best ways to earn and redeem United miles, and the value of United miles. Learn about the diverse ways to add trips to your United MileagePlus account and how these miles, which never expire, can be a game-changer for your travel plans.

What is the United MileagePlus Program?

United stands out in the global travel industry with its MileagePlus program, offering expansive partnerships for flights, hotels, rentals, dining, shopping, and more. Members can earn United miles quickly through various activities, not just flying. This includes flights, hotels, rentals, dining out with United MileagePlus Dining, shopping, and more. Making this program a premier choice for travelers seeking to maximize their travel benefits.

Earning United Miles: A Guide

Start taking advantage of the United MileagePlus program by first getting signed up and then earning United Miles. The more miles you accumulate, the more offers you can take advantage of when traveling with United and its partners. Luckily, United provides several ways to earn United Miles.

Maximize your MileagePlus membership by understanding how to earn United miles, including without flying. From flying with United and its Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, to signing up for credit cards with United miles sale offers, numerous paths exist. For instance, using your MileagePlus number for bookings across United’s travel partners, such as hotels and car rentals, can significantly boost your miles. Additionally, learn how to buy United miles cheap during promotional sales, offering exceptional value.

Credit Card Bonuses and United Partnerships

Discover the best way to get United miles through credit card sign-up bonuses and strategic spending. Compare Chase United credit cards to find the right match for your travel and spending habits. United’s partnerships with Marriott Bonvoy and other points transfer partners extend the flexibility and value of your miles, making it easier to earn and redeem across a wide network.

Fly with United

United Airlines rewards its loyal customers by giving United Miles for each flight you take on the airline and its partnering Star Alliance members, like Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

All members receive 5 base miles per USD spent on the fare*, and Premier members earn Premier bonus miles based on their Premier status.
*fare is the base fare plus surcharges set by the carrier, excluding any taxes and fees imposed by the government. Please note that the federal transportation tax included in the ticket price is not included in the calculation of PQP or miles.

Credit card sign-up bonuses

One of the easiest ways to get a jumpstart on your United Miles balance, sign up for qualifying credit cards that give signing bonuses of up to 100,000 miles.

Use your MileagePlus Number when traveling

Your United MileagePlus number comes in handy when making reservations for your entire trip. You can earn miles by booking flights on United and their hotel, car rental, and other service partners. For example, booking hotel reservations with Marriott can earn up to 40,000, planning a holiday cruise can earn up to 45,000, and renting cars through Budget can add a ton of United miles to your account.

United MileagePlus account
United MileagePlus account | Image source shutterstock.com

United Points Purchase or Transfer

United offers an option to buy and transfer United Miles. United MileagePlus members who want to take advantage of United rewards or upgrade their travel plans using miles can purchase them before booking. Miles cost $35/1000 miles with fees and taxes added. It frequently holds sales on points however the cost-to-value of purchased points isn’t as good as earned points. There are also transfer fees applied that effectively decrease the value of miles when transferred.

These options aren’t the preferred way to get United Miles.

Earning United Rewards on Travel Partners

The United MileagePlus program opens up a world of travel – you don’t even have to fly United! United’s partnerships make their miles program a premier service that gives many ways to earn and redeem rewards.

Earning United Rewards on Travel Partners

United has partnerships in the following categories:

Airline Partners 

  • Star Alliance – earn United miles with more than 28 airlines traveling to 1,300+ destinations.
  • Other regional airlines for global travel

Hotels and Vacation Rentals

  • Marriot and Marriot Vacation Club
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt
  • Wyndham
  • and other


  • Budget
  • Avis
  • United Cruises

It’s important to note that making reservations with one of United’s travel partners may not earn one-for-one United Miles. For example, United follows the current schedule when calculating your United Miles earned on qualifying airline purchases*:

Preferred PartnerTrip Miles / 5 = United Miles Earned
MileagePlus PartnerTrip Miles / 6 = United Miles Earned

*United MileagePlus status members at Premier Gold level or higher can earn bonuses per purchase.

Converting Points

The United MileagePlus program is a preferred partner with Marriott Bonvoy. If you already have an account with Marriott Bonvoy Points, you can convert those points into United Miles at a 3:1 point conversion. United also gifts a bonus of 5,000 miles every time you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points. 

However, both programs can be used for redeeming travel rewards. Be sure to check the rewards of both programs to see if converting is necessary since you’ll get a fraction of the points converted into United Miles.

The actual details of the Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus program partnership are analyzed in the article Maximizing Benefits: A Guide to Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus Partnership

In addition to the partnership with Marriott Bonvoy, it is possible to convert points from other hotel programs into United miles

Hotel loyalty program partnerConversion Rate
Accor Live Limitless2:1
Earn 250 total miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.
Hilton Honors10:1
World of Hyatt2.5:1
Plus, receive a 5,000-mile bonus when you convert 50,000 points into 20,000 miles.
Earn 500 United miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.
Earn 2 United miles per dollar at IHG properties in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean — and at all Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels worldwide.
Earn 1 United mile per dollar at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
Marriott Vacation Club1:16
Radisson Rewards10:1
Shangri-La Golden Circle1:1 ratio.
Earn 500 United miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.
Wyndham Gold and Blue members earn 1 United per dollar spent;
Wyndham Platinum and Diamond members earn 2 miles per dollar spent.
United Points transfer partners

United Rewards Cards to Earn United MileagePlus Points

Did you know that you don’t even have to travel to earn United miles? The United Mileage Plus program lets you earn more with everyday activities like going to the gas station, dining at your favorite restaurant, and even streaming services. So now, those Netflix binges can actually earn you points towards your dream vacation!

In the table below, we’ve outlined the key features, benefits, and differences between the different United credit cards. This comparison will help you understand which card might best suit your different travel needs and spending habits.

Feature/BenefitUnited Gateway CardUnited Explorer CardUnited Quest CardUnited Club Infinite Card
Annual Fee$0$95 (waived first year)$250$525
Welcome Bonus30,000 miles (after spending $1,000 in first 3 months)60,000 miles (after spending $2,000 in first 3 months)70,000 miles (after spending $4,000 in first 3 months) + 500 PQR80,000 miles (after spending $5,000 in first 3 months)
Miles Earned on United Purchases2x miles2x miles3x miles4x miles
Miles Earned on All Other Purchases1x mile1x mile1x mile1x mile
Additional Bonus Categories2x miles on local transit and commuting, including rideshare2x miles at restaurants, and on hotel stays booked directly with the hotel2x miles on all other travel and at select streaming services2x miles on dining and all other travel
Travel ProtectionsBasic travel protectionComprehensive travel protection, including baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and moreEnhanced travel protection plus reimbursement for TSA Pre✓® or Global EntryPremium travel protection and reimbursement for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry
Free Checked BagNoYes, for a cardholder and one companion on the same reservationYes, for a cardholder and one companion on the same reservationYes, for cardholders and companions on the same reservation
Priority BoardingNoYesYesYes
United Club AccessNoNoNoYes, unlimited access to United Club and Star Alliance lounges
Other Benefits25% back on United in-flight purchasesTwo one-time United Club passes each year$125 United purchase credit annually, two 5,000-mile anniversary award flight creditsPremier Access travel services, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle membership
Compare Chase United Credit Cards

Make sure to read the details for each credit card and understand the responsibilities before signing up! For example, some cards may come with an annual fee and have spending requirements before earning the bonus miles.

United Сredit Сards for Business

United and Chase offer two business cards for business travelers: United Business Card for small business owners who fly United on an occasional basis, but enjoy important benefits from free checked baggage and priority boarding to exceptional travel protection, and United Club Business Card with comprehensive lounge access and premium benefits for those who travel frequently and value comfort and convenience. For a detailed overview and comparison of United business cards, see Updated Overview of United Business Credit Cards for 2024

For small businesses that frequently fly United, the range of perks offered by United business credit cards, especially the Chase United Business Card, is of significant value. With benefits ranging from free checked baggage and priority boarding to exceptional travel protection, choosing a United business credit card can greatly enhance your travel experience and provide valuable rewards for your business expenses.

Different tiers of MileagePlus Premier Memberships

United Premier Status: Unlocking Exclusive Benefits

Achieve higher tiers within the United Premier program, including Premier Silver, Gold, Platinum, and 1K, each offering an array of benefits such as upgrades, lounge access, and more. The requirements for each status level have been updated to focus more on spending and frequency of flights, making it more accessible for loyal customers to enjoy the perks of United Premier access.

The most elite United MileagePlus members will earn their way into a MileagePlus Premier Membership. This premium membership program comes with four tiers. Each has special perks for users who achieve the status:

  1. Premier Silver
  2. Premier Gold
  3. Premier Platinum
  4. Premier 1K

In 2023, United updated the qualification criteria and benefits for its Premier status levels to serve frequent flyers better and enhance their travel experience.

Regardless of your membership level, you need to fly at least four times on United or United Express to earn points, first or second option:

  1. Premium Qualifying Flights (PQF) and Premium Qualifying Points (PQP)
  2. PQP only

Here are the requirements for the different tiers:

United tiersRequirements
Premier Silver12 PQF + 4,000 PQP OR 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold24 PQF + 8,000 PQP OR 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum36 PQF + 12,000 PQP OR 15,000 points
Premier 1K54 PQF + 18,000 PQP OR 24,000 points
Requirements for different tiers of United Premier

United Premier Silver benefits

  • United Premier Access
  • Complimentary seat upgrades   
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus at check-in for you + 1 companion 
  • 1 free checked bag
  • Earn 7x United Miles for each flight

United Premier Gold benefits

  • United Premier Access
  • Star Alliance Gold status
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus at booking for you + 1 companion
  • 2 free check bags
  • Earn 8x United Miles for each flight
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

United Premier Platinum benefits

  • United Premier Access
  • Star Alliance Gold status
  • 3 free checked bags
  • 40 PlusPoints
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus for you + 8 companions
  • Earn 9x United Miles for each flight
  • 50$ discount for United Club
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

United Premier 1K benefits

  • United Premier Access
  • Star Alliance Gold status
  • 3 free checked bags
  • Pre-boarding
  • 280 PlusPoints
  • Complimentary drinks and snacks in Economy class
  • Earn 11x United Miles for each flight
  • 100$ discount for United Club
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status

A full list of all the benefits and a comparison table can be found in the full chart of premium class benefits United.

Million Miler Program – Lifetime Status Achievements

The Million Miler program, integrated within the MileagePlus program, rewards members who have accumulated a million miles or more with our airline. Upon achieving this remarkable milestone, you will be granted lifetime Premier status in recognition of your enduring loyalty.

  • Premier Gold – 1,00,000 miles for Lifetime status
  • Premier Platinum – 2,000,000 miles for Lifetime status
  • Premier 1K – 3,000,000 miles for Lifetime status
  • United Global Services – 4,000,000 miles for Lifetime status

United Premier Access

Premier Access is a suite of travel services offered by United Airlines designed to enhance the airport experience for eligible passengers. It includes several benefits aimed at making travel smoother and more comfortable, from check-in to boarding.

Benefits of Premier Access

Premier Access is designed to make the airport experience more pleasant and efficient through several key services:

  • Priority Check-In: Access to dedicated check-in counters where available, allowing for a quicker process.
  • Priority Security Screening: Where available, access to expedited security lanes can significantly reduce wait times during peak travel periods.
  • Priority Boarding: Premier Access customers have the privilege to board the aircraft earlier, providing more time to settle in and access to overhead bin space.
  • Priority Baggage Handling: Bags tagged with Premier Access are among the first to be delivered at baggage claim, reducing wait times upon arrival.
Premier Access Benefits
Image source – Screenshot from the site United

Premier Access is a suite of travel services offered by United Airlines designed to enhance the airport experience for eligible passengers. It includes several benefits aimed at making travel smoother and more comfortable, from check-in to boarding.

Who Gets Premier Access for Free

  • MileagePlus Premier Members: All levels of United’s MileagePlus Premier members (Silver, Gold, Platinum, 1K) receive Premier Access as part of their membership benefits.
  • Travelers on Premium Cabins: Passengers traveling in United’s premium cabins, such as United Polaris, United First, and United Business, are automatically entitled to Premier Access, regardless of their MileagePlus status.
  • Star Alliance Gold Members: Passengers with Star Alliance Gold status, achieved through other Star Alliance airline loyalty programs, also receive Premier Access when flying on United.

Purchasing Premier Access

For those who are not MileagePlus Premier members or not traveling in premium cabins, United offers the option to purchase Premier Access in select markets, subject to availability. This allows passengers to enjoy some of the benefits of a smoother airport experience even if they are not frequent flyers or have not purchased premium tickets.

Currently, the price of Premier Access is $24.

Additional Considerations

  • Eligibility and Access: Not all airports offer the full suite of Premier Access services, particularly expedited security screening, which is subject to local airport authority regulations and availability.
  • Combining with Other Services: Premier Access complements other United services and memberships, such as United Club access, but does not include lounge access on its own.

United PlusPoints

PlusPoints is a unique and flexible program introduced by United Airlines, specifically designed for its MileagePlus Premier members, especially those at the Platinum and 1K levels. This program provides a more customizable and straightforward way to use upgrade benefits, enhancing the travel experience for United’s most loyal passengers. Here’s a detailed overview of the PlusPoints program, including how it works, the benefits it offers, and how members can use these points.

How PlusPoints Works

  • Earning PlusPoints: PlusPoints are awarded to MileagePlus Premier members when they reach Premier Platinum and 1K status levels. Upon reaching Premier Platinum status, members receive a specific allotment of PlusPoints. 1K members receive additional PlusPoints, reflecting their higher status tier.
  • Additional PlusPoints for 1K Members: When members qualify for Premier 1K status, they earn additional PlusPoints, further increasing their ability to upgrade.

Benefits of PlusPoints

  • Flexibility in Upgrades: PlusPoints can be used for upgrades on United flights and flights operated by select United partners. This includes upgrades from Economy to United Polaris (business class), United Premium Plus (premium economy), and upgrades between United Premium Plus and United Polaris.
  • Skip Waitlist Option: Premier 1K members have the exclusive option to use additional PlusPoints to confirm an upgrade at booking, even if upgrade space isn’t available (subject to certain conditions and availability).
  • Combining Upgrade Requests: Members can use PlusPoints for multiple upgrade requests. This means you can request upgrades on different segments of your journey or for multiple passengers on the same reservation, as long as you have enough PlusPoints.

Using PlusPoints

  • Upgrade Request: Members can request upgrades using PlusPoints through United’s official website, the mobile app, or customer service. The number of PlusPoints required for an upgrade varies based on the route, the type of upgrade, and the fare class of the original ticket.
  • Priority of Upgrade Requests: Upgrade requests made with PlusPoints are prioritized based on the member’s Premier status and the time the request was made, with Premier 1K members typically receiving higher priority.
  • Expiry: PlusPoints expire at the end of the program year for which they were issued, encouraging members to take advantage of their benefits annually.

Additional Considerations

  • Transparency: United provides a clear chart and calculator on its website, helping members understand how many PlusPoints are required for different types of upgrades on various routes.
  • No Cash Value: PlusPoints cannot be sold, transferred, or exchanged for cash or other forms of compensation. They are intended solely for the member’s use on eligible flights.

The introduction of PlusPoints has been a significant enhancement to the MileagePlus program, offering unprecedented flexibility and choice to Premier members in how they use their upgrade benefits. This system allows frequent flyers to tailor their travel experiences more precisely to their preferences, making premium cabin access more attainable and enjoyable.

Redeeming Your United Miles Effectively

Redeeming United miles is straightforward, offering a variety of options, from flights with United and its partner airlines to hotel stays and car rentals. The process for adding a trip to United MileagePlus is user-friendly, ensuring you can leverage your miles for the best travel experiences. Remember, using miles for bookings still earns you points, increasing the overall value of your United miles.

To redeem points earned with your United Miles, you will need your United MileagePlus number when making your reservations and bookings.

United makes it user-friendly for taking advantage of United Rewards. It allows users booking directly on its platform to browse flights specifically for Award Travel. Select the option in the menu and customize your flight options before searching.

platform to browse flights specifically for United Award Travel

Thanks to their partnerships with Star Alliance airlines and other industry partners, it includes results for all applicable airlines to allow more flexibility when booking with your United Miles.

One of the benefits of using your United Miles to redeem for rewards is earning United Miles for the trip your make! That means you’ll get back some of the points you’ve already spent on qualifying reservations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do United miles expire?

No, United Miles never expire, allowing you to save for future travel plans without worry.

Can I gift or transfer United miles?

Yes, the program allows members to gift or transfer United miles to another account, making travel a perfect gift for special occasions.

How much does it cost to join the United MileagePlus program?

Joining is free, encouraging travelers to sign up and start enjoying the benefits of the United Rewards program.

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