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You can find fantastic value when you redeem United Airlines miles for free airfare. Many of us on the MMS team prefer using United Airlines miles because they never add fuel surcharges to award tickets—even when you use United Airlines miles to fly one of their many partners. Some airlines charge hundreds of dollars.
There are a large number of United Airlines credit cards, so the miles are easy to earn. But to get the most out of United Airlines miles, it’s important to understand how award seats are priced and where the sweet spots are. That way, you’ll get the best deals and avoid spending more miles than you ought. I’ll explain how United prices its awards and point out some of the best uses for your miles.
United award chart eliminated
United Airlines has eliminated all award charts, both for United and partner operated flights. That means the price can be anything United wants it to be. United has a long list of Star Alliance partner airlines:
- 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
Additionally, United has a few non-alliance partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti
- Boutique Air
- Cape Air
- Edelweiss Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airways
You’ll be able to redeem your United miles with any of United’s Star Alliance or non-alliance partners listed above. And since United has so many partners, you’ll have a ton of flexibility when it comes to using your miles.
United Airlines miles award prices will depend on a couple things:
- What class of service and pricing tier?
- Where will you be flying?
I’ll explain these individually.
1. Will you be flying in coach, business class, or first class?
You’re looking at different prices depending on the class of service you want to fly. Once you’ve decided, you’ll be presented with two pricing tiers:
Saver awards run out much faster than Everyday awards, but they cost a lot less. On partner airlines, you will generally either see Saver availability or no availability.,
It’s best to avoid redeeming your miles for Everyday awards because they cost quite a bit more than Saver awards. Though, if you have last minute travel or no flexibility, Everyday awards might be your only option. Check out the difference between the below business class Saver Award and Everyday Award from San Francisco to Dubai. An Everyday Award is almost 100,000 miles pricier!
2. When and where will you be flying?
The final step to figuring out how much you are going to be charged is based on where you are going. As United has obliterated any and all award charts, you’ll have to literally enter your exact desired flights for dates you want to fly — prices may vary by the day. Fortunately, at this time, several partner award flights tend to stick around the same price as United’s old partner award chart, depending on your origin and destination. However, a significant amount of routes on partner airlines seem to also have raised by about 10%.
How to best use United Airlines miles
You can find great award flight deals if you’re flexible with your travel dates. United miles are easy to earn with great intro bonuses that come with many of the best credit cards for travel, including:
- United℠ Explorer Card – 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months from account opening
- United Club℠ Infinite Card – Ends May 18, 2020: 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Intro bonus of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (that can transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
The above cards are some of the best airline credit cards, and the fastest ways to earn United miles. There are several little-known sweet spots using United Airlines miles. While no award price is a guarantee (since United Airlines has transitioned to dynamic pricing), you can often find deals such as:
- 8,000 United Airlines miles for one-way coach flights up to 800 miles outside North America
- 17,500 United Airlines miles for one-way coach flights from North America to Central America
- Lots of available award seats to Oceania for 35,000 United Airlines miles in coach or 70,000 United Airlines miles in business class
You can receive extremely high United Airlines miles value when redeeming for several sweet spots, like discounted pricing on short-haul flights outside North America. You’ll never pay fuel surcharges, even on partner airlines. Read our United MileagePlus review for more details.
Leave any questions in the comments. And remember to subscribe to our newsletter for more tips on how to be smart with your miles and points!