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How to earn United miles

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How to earn United miles

Meghan HunterHow to earn United milesMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

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:

Need to know how to earn United miles for your next Caribbean escape? Here’s our full guide. (Photo by Aerial-motion/Shutterstock)

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.

United Explorer and Club cards get you perks when you fly United, like priority boarding, so you can settle in faster and get overhead bin space. (Photo by Benson Truong/Shutterstock)

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:

  • Aegean
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Egyptair
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • SWISS
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai
  • Turkish Airlines

You can also earn United Airlines miles on airline partners outside the Star Alliance, including:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromar
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Azul
  • Boutique Air
  • Cape Air
  • Edelweiss
  • Eurowings
  • 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:

  • Hertz
  • MileagePlus Golf
  • Quicken Loans
  • Reliant Energy
  • United Cruises

Here’s the full list of partners.

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:

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.

Don’t let the cost of a trip hold you back from traveling the world. Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points can take you (almost) anywhere. (Photo by Drone Thailand/Shutterstock)

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:

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.

Bottom line

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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

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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Only silver status on United, and that’s just because I am Marriott titanium, but by far my favorite way to get united miles is through Mileage Plus shopping and the mileage plus X app. If you strategically do your shopping you can really score out on some big miles. When I know I need to buy things I usually wait until I get the alert that the mileage went up for that particular store, usually at least 5, but your really score out when it hits 10. So for example I needed a Dell laptop that was $1200 for work, I ended up buying it on a day when Dell home was offering 10 miles per dollar when the previous day it was 1 mile per dollar. So I scored 12,000 United miles off this purchase, Plus whatever miles or points you’re getting from the credit card you’re using. There’s also a lot of great things you can do by and gift cards using MileagePlus X and also using that in addition to shopping through the Mileage Plus portal to double dip. Delta and American offer similar portals and shopping but I find United is the most generous overall. where is offering 10 miles per dollar when the previous day it was 1 mile per dollar. So I scored 12,000 United miles off this purchase. There’s also a lot of great things you can do by and gift cards using MileagePlus X and also using that in addition to shopping through the Mileage Plus portal to double dip. Delta and American offer similar portals and shopping but I find United is the most generous overall