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Many MMS readers love using United Airlines miles (myself included) not only because they’re easy to earn, but also because, 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 for flights on partner airlines like Air Canada and Lufthansa.
There are multiple ways to earn United Airlines miles. You can earn them with United co-branded cards, like the United℠ Explorer Business Card (which currently comes with up to 100,000 miles after meeting spending requirements), or indirectly with flexible points-earning cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Here’s our guide for how to earn United miles:
How to earn United Miles
Here’s how to get more United Airlines miles into your account.
Fly United Airlines
You’ll earn United Airlines miles any time you take a United Airlines or United Express flight and add your MileagePlus number to the reservation. The number of miles you’ll earn is tied to the cash price of the ticket’s base fare, not including taxes and government fees.
Depending on your elite status level, you’ll earn:
- 5 miles per $1 – Basic member
- 7 miles per $1 – Premier Silver member
- 8 miles per $1 – Premier Gold member
- 9 miles per $1 – Premier Platinum member
- 11 miles per $1 – Premier 1K member
Here’s our United Airlines status review with more information.
Use United Airlines credit cards
You’ll earn United Airlines miles when you open and use a Chase United Airlines credit card, including:
- United℠ Explorer Business Card – Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months your account is open and an additional 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 total in purchases in the first six months of account opening.
- United℠ Explorer Card – Earn up to 65,000 bonus miles: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total in purchases in the first six months of account opening.
- United Club℠ Card – Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
- United Club℠ Business Card – Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
- United℠ TravelBank Card – Earn $150 in TravelBank cash after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
The information for the United Club Card, the United Club Business Card and the United TravelBank 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.
All of the Chase United cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, which means if you’ve opened five or more cards (from any bank, except Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved.
Fly United Airlines partners
When you use your MileagePlus number on partner airlines, you’ll earn United Airlines miles. How many you’ll earn varies by airline, fare type and cabin of travel.
United Airlines’ Star Alliance partners are:
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
You can also earn United Airlines miles on airline partners outside the Star Alliance, including:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti
- Boutique Air
- Cape Air
- Hawaiian Airlines (inter-island flights only)
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airways
In total, that gives you 36 other airlines where you can earn and redeem United Airlines miles. You can check how many miles you’ll earn when you fly each partner on this page.
MileagePlus shopping and dining
When you start your shopping through the United MileagePlus portal or dine with participating restaurants after linking a credit or debit card, you’ll earn even more United Airlines miles. These miles are a bonus on top of any other miles or points you earn. Plus, there are often limited-time promotions to earn extra bonus miles, so it’s worth checking if there’s anything going on.
Spend with MileagePlus partners
United Airlines has partnerships with all types of merchants and travel providers, and you can opt to earn United Airlines miles when you shop with them. Partners include:
- MileagePlus Golf
- Quicken Loans
- Reliant Energy
- United Cruises
Note that with travel partners, like the rental car companies, earning United Airlines miles means forfeiting the rental car company’s own loyalty points. And if you book a hotel or a cruise, always shop around to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United
If you need more United Airlines miles, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points instantly to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio if you have one of these cards:
If you have any of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards mentioned above, you can combine points from the no-annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards cards below and move them to United Airlines as well:
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
This is an easy way to get an award ticket if you find a route and time that works and need more miles. While transfers are free, you must transfer in increments of 1,000 points.
Transfer Marriott Bonvoy points
United Airlines has a deal with Marriott Bonvoy that gets you 10% more miles when you convert Marriott Bonvoy points to United Airlines miles.
That’s on top of the 5,000-mile bonus you’ll get for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, so it can work out to be an especially great deal if you stack the two. Keep in mind you must transfer at least 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, with a maximum of 240,000 points per day. Here’s our step-by-step guide to transferring Marriott points to airlines.
The easiest way to collect Marriott points is with welcome offers from cards that earn Marriott points:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card – earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – earn 75,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening. Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – earn 75,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
Just remember, you can only earn the welcome bonus on American Express personal and business cards once per person, per lifetime.
Use the MileagePlus X App
You can buy gift cards for dozens of merchants through the MileagePlus X app and earn United Airlines miles at the same time.
Plus, if you have a Chase United Airlines card, like the United℠ Explorer Card or United℠ Explorer Business Card, you’ll earn 25% bonus miles automatically — and you do not have to use the card to pay through the app.
Your miles post immediately, so you can redeem them right away.
There are a variety of ways to earn United Airlines miles, including top travel credit card welcome bonuses and ongoing spending.
You can earn them directly from United Airlines co-branded cards, like the United Explorer Business Card and United Explorer Card, or indirectly by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or transferring 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.
Let me know your favorite way to earn United Airlines miles. And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips and tricks for using airline miles.