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How to Earn United Miles in 2019: The Ultimate Guide

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How to Earn United Miles in 2019:   The Ultimate Guide

Meghan HunterHow to Earn United Miles in 2019:   The Ultimate GuideMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Many MMS readers love using United Airlines miles (myself included) because they’re easy to earn, and compared to other frequent flyer programs, they seem to have really consistent award availability.  Plus, they’re part of the Star Alliance, so you can use United Airlines miles on United flights and for flights on their partner airlines, like Air Canada and Lufthansa.

United Airlines miles are easy to earn because not only can you earn them with United co-branded cards, like the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Explorer Business Card, but you can earn them indirectly with flexible points-earning cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (our #1 credit card for beginners!).

Here’s a look at all the best ways to how to earn United miles.

Why Not Stock Up With the Best Credit Cards to Earn United Airlines Miles and Escape to the Caribbean?

How to Earn United Miles

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

Note:   All of the Chase cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, which means if you’ve opened 5+ cards (from any bank, except Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved.

1.   United Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

When you open the Chase United Explorer card, you can earn 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

With the United Explorer card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend on purchases from United Airlines
  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 spent at restaurants and hotels when you book directly
  • 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 2 one-time United Club Passes at account opening, and every cardmember year (over a $100 value)
  • Free checked bag on domestic flights for you and a companion when you pay for United Airlines airfare with the card
  • Up to $100 credit every 4 years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • 25% off in-flight purchases like food, drinks, and Wi-Fi

There’s a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year.  So you can enjoy the perks free for ~11 months to decide if you like it.

My favorite perk of this card is that cardholders will have access to more available award seats.  This makes the miles you earn so much easier to use!

You can read our full review of the Chase United Explorer card here.

2.   United Explorer Business Card

United℠ Explorer Business Card

You can earn 50,000 United Airlines miles when you open the United Explorer Business Card and spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

You’ll also get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 you spend with United Airlines and at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores
  • 1 United Airlines mile per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Free first checked bag for you and one companion on the same reservation – but you MUST use your card to pay for your ticket
  • Priority boarding
  • 2 one-time United Club lounge passes per card membership year (over a $100 value)
  • No foreign transaction fees

The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.  Plus, cardholders will have access to more available award seats.

3.   United Club Card

Right now, you’ll earn 50,000 United Airlines miles when you’re approved for the Chase United Club card after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

You’ll also get:

  • 2 United Airlines miles per $1 spent on United Airlines flights
  • 1.5 United Airlines miles per $1 spent on other purchases
  • United Club membership worth up to $550
  • 1st and 2nd bags checked free when you pay for your ticket with the card (save up to $280 per round-trip flight)
  • No close-in booking fees on United Airlines award tickets
  • Hertz President’s Circle elite status when you register (upgrades, bonus points)
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • NO foreign transaction fees

There’s a $450 annual fee with this card that’s not waived the first year.

4.   Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Transfer to United Airlines Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite transferable points to earn because of their flexibility – you can redeem them for cash back, travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, or (when you have an annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card, like the Ink Business Preferred Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred Card, or  Chase Sapphire Reservetransfer them to valuable travel partners like United Airlines!

The easiest way to earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points quickly is by opening one of these cards:

If you want to indirectly earn United Airlines miles while keeping your options open when it comes to redeeming your rewards, I’d recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. And the Chase Ink Business Preferred is offering an 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

5.   Earn Marriott Points to Transfer to United Airlines Miles

Don’t forget, another option is to earn Marriott points and transfer them to United Airlines miles.

Marriott points transfer directly to United Airlines at a 3:1.1 ratio because you get a 10% bonus with every transfer.  Additionally, you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer!

So, for example, if you transfer 60,000 Marriott points to United Airlines miles, you’ll end up with 25,000 miles plus the 10% bonus, for a total of 27,500 United Airlines miles.

The easiest way to collect Marriott points is with welcome offers from cards that earn Marriott points:

Just remember, you can only earn the welcome bonus on American Express personal and business cards once per person, per lifetime.

Bottom Line

There are a variety of ways to earn United Airlines miles from top travel credit card welcome bonuses and ongoing spending!

You can earn them directly from United Airlines co-branded cards, like the United℠ Explorer Card and United℠ Explorer Business Card.  Or indirectly by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (our #1 pick for beginners in the miles & points hobby) or Marriott points to United Airlines miles.

With all of these ways to earn United Airlines miles you can be on your way to free flights in no time at all!

What’s your favorite way to earn United Airlines miles?

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

More Info

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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