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How Much Are United Miles Worth? Putting a Price Tag on Them Is a Bit More Convoluted Than You Might Think

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How Much Are United Miles Worth?  Putting a Price Tag on Them Is a Bit More Convoluted Than You Might Think

Meghan HunterHow Much Are United Miles Worth?  Putting a Price Tag on Them Is a Bit More Convoluted Than You Might ThinkMillion Mile Secrets Team

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United Airlines miles are a favorite of the MMS team and blog readers alike because compared to many other airlines, they offer a decent number of award seats.  But you might be wondering:  How much are United miles worth? 

On average, you can get a minimum value of ~1.3 cents per mile, but the value you’ll actually get will always vary depending on the route you’re flying, fees associated with certain award tickets, whether you traveling during peak times, and more.  In some cases, they’ll be worth much more than their average value – like over 12 cents per mile!

The great thing about United Airlines miles is that they’re easy to earn from cards like the United℠ Explorer Business Card.  And United is also a Chase transfer partner, so you can indirectly earn miles from top cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Let’s take a look at some examples to see what United Airlines miles are worth and how to calculate their value for your own particular situation.

The Value of Your United Airlines Miles Can Vary Widely Depending on How You Use Them

United Miles Value

To calculate the value of each point for your specific flight, use the following formula:

(Cash price of a ticket – taxes and fees you’d pay on the award ticket) / number of points required for an award ticket

Here are 4 examples of calculating the value of United Airlines miles.

1.   Domestic Flights

Here’s an example with a round-trip coach ticket between Seattle and Denver.  If you were to use miles, you’d spend 25,000 miles and ~$11 in taxes and fees.  The exact same ticket costs $329 in cash.  That means using your miles for this ticket you’d get a value of ~1.3 cents per mile (($329 – $11) / 25,000 miles).

Oftentimes you’ll get even more value for your miles if you’re willing to make a stop or take a little less desirable routing.  For example, the ticket below costs 10,000 United Airlines miles and ~$11 in taxes and fees.

And the same ticket, if paid in cash, costs $239.  At that rate, you’d be getting a value of ~2.3 cents per mile!

But this flight requires a stop whereas the flights in the previous example were non-stop.  Plus, you’re landing in Seattle at 1:18 am on the return trip home.

If I’m traveling with my 3-year-old daughter, for example, I’d rather get a little less value from my miles and get to my destination more quickly.  So I’m unwilling to sacrifice convenience to squeeze out extra value from my rewards.  But that’s a personal decision!  Whether or not it’s worth it will be up to you.

2.   Round-Trip Coach Tickets to Europe

United Airlines charges 60,000 miles for round-trip coach flights to Europe, which means you can get a lot of value from your miles using them for tickets to top vacation destinations like Paris, London, Madrid, and more.

I did a quick search for flights between Chicago and Madrid in June 2019 and found a number of options for 60,000 United Airlines miles and ~$57 in taxes and fees.

Cash prices for this same route were running $1,135+ at the time of the search!  That means you’d get a value of ~1.8 cents per mile in this scenario, which is an excellent deal.

Cheap Fares
Flying for (Nearly) Free to Europe Can Be a Great Use of Your United Airlines Miles

3.   International Business and First Class Flights on Partner Airlines

Once you’ve flown up front it’s hard to think about having to take a long-haul flight in coach.  Luckily, using United Airlines miles to fly in an expensive Business or First Class seat on an overseas trip can help save your wallet…and your back!  And you’ll get tons of value from your miles while you’re at it.

For example, I found a nonstop lie-flat Business Class ticket from Denver to Frankfurt on United Airlines’ partner Lufthansa for 70,000 United Airlines miles and ~$6 in taxes and fees.

If you paid cash for the same flight you’d need to fork out a whopping ~$8,582!

After doing the math, you’d be getting a value of ~12.25 cents per mile!  That’s an INSANELY fantastic deal – over 8X the average value you’ll normally get from your United Airlines miles.

This is proof of how widely the value of United Airlines miles can fluctuate and just how valuable they can be!

4.  Round-Trip Coach Tickets to Hawaii

Doesn’t spending a week in Hawaii sound nice?  Well, it’s easy to realize that dream with your United Airlines miles!  Plus, using your miles can end up saving you a lot of cash.

For example, I found a round-trip coach ticket from my hometown of Missoula, Montana, to Honolulu in September 2019 for 45,000 United Airlines miles and ~$11 in taxes and fees.  The exact same seat costs ~$733 in cash!

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather use my miles than be out over $700.  Plus, I’d be getting a value of ~1.6 cents per mile from my miles, which is a decent deal.

Bottom Line

The value of United miles varies depending on your itinerary – factors like route, time of travel, and class of service.  At a minimum, you should be able to get an average value of ~1.3 cents per mile when you use them for awards like flights within the US.  But if you use your miles for awards like Business Class seats to Europe you could very well get up to a value of ~12 cents per mile!

To figure out the United Airlines miles value on your particular flight, use this formula:

(Cash price of the ticket – taxes and fees you’d pay on the award ticket) / number of points required for an award ticket

What’s your experience been like?  What are United Airlines miles worth to you?

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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