United Miles have the best value when redeemed for award travel on United and partnering airlines. Miles can also be used for hotels, car rentals, gift cards, and more.
How To Earn United Miles
The best way to earn United miles is through intro bonuses and everyday spending across United and partner credit cards.
United Credit Cards
United offers a handful of credit cards that offer solid benefits such as free checked bag, United Club lounge access, complimentary upgrades, and much more. These cards also offer great intro bonuses and earning rates to help you earn a great rate of return on your spending.
Here are the credit cards you can use to earn United miles:
|Credit Card||Intro Bonus||Annual Fee|
Best For Occasional United Travelers
|Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||$0 for the first year, then $95|
Best For United Benefits
|Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||$250|
Best For United Club Access
|Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||$525|
Best For No Annual Fee
|Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||$0|
Best For United Business Travelers
|Earn up to 150,000 bonus miles. Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 75,000 miles after you spend $20,000 total on purchases made in the first 6 months your account is open.||$99|
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to United at a 1:1 ratio. This means that every 1,000 Chase points you transfer to United will give you 1,000 United miles.
Chase offers some of the best travel rewards credit cards on the market that are fantastic for frequent travelers thanks to high intro bonuses, great returns on spending, and very valuable points.
Here are the best credit cards for earning Ultimate Rewards points:
|Credit Card||Intro Bonus||Annual Fee|
Best For High Value & Travel Benefits
|Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.||$550|
Best For Flexible Travel Rewards
|Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.||$95|
Best For Flexible Business Travel Rewards
|Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.||$95|
How Much Are United Miles Worth?
The Point Calculator values United Miles at 1.3 cents each when redeemed for award flights on United and their partners. This means that 10,000 points have an average value of $130.
Miles can also be used towards several other redemption options for an average of 0.7 to 0.8 cents in value which includes United Club Membership, cruises, TSA PreCheck, and car rentals.
Gift cards are also a redemption option, but they will give you the lowest redemption value of 0.3 cents each which is less than a quarter of the value offered for award flights.
United Miles Value
|Redemption option||Redemption value in cents|
|Award Flights (Research/Sweet Spots)||2|
|Award Flights (Average)||1.3|
|United Club Membership||0.77|
|United Wi-Fi Subscription||0.65 - 0.68|
United Award Flights
United Miles will offer the best value when you redeem them for award flights with United and their partners. On average, you should be able to squeeze 1.3 cents per mile out of your rewards at minimum on basic United redemptions without too much effort.
Listed below are a few of the popular sweet spots when it comes to booking award flights with United Miles as well as some standard examples for redeeming miles for domestic and international travel.
Fly United Polaris Business Class
If you're looking to redeem your miles directly with United, Polaris is a great option. One-way flights to Europe start at 60,000 miles. If you're trying to fly west, one-way flights to Asia starts at 70,000 United Miles.
Fly From The U.S. To Europe On Lufthansa First Class
Searching for a top-rated first class product? Lufthansa's first class sits high up on the list and you can obtain a seat yourself starting at 110,000 Untied Miles for a one-way award flight.
Do note that you can only book first-class awards for Lufthansa within 15 days of departure.
United's Excursionist Perk
If you want some great value out of your United Miles, especially international travel, you'll want to understand The Excursionist Perk.
Here's the definition from United's website:
The Excursionist Perk is a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries. Members who book an itinerary with three or more one-way awards will be eligible to receive one of those one-way awards for free.
If used correctly, this benefit easily ups the value of United Miles. Do note that there are several restrictions to this rule which are:
- Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
- The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.
- The cabin of service and award inventory of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
- If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.
The easiest way to use the Excursionist Perk is just adding an additional city to your travel that meets the restrictions. The example that United provides is:
- Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR) - 30,000 Miles
- London (LHR) to Paris (CDG) - 0 Miles (Excursionist Perk)
- Paris (CDG) to Chicago (ORD) - 30,000 Miles
You could add in more European stop overs in the same region, but you would have to pay the additional costs.
With the rules in mind, you could book open-jaw flights and get great use out of this perk which will of course add significant value to your United Miles.
For example, you could fly from the U.S. to Europe and return to the U.S. from Asia, Africa or any other region. You don't have to fly back to the U.S. from Europe. So you could book:
- New York (JFK) to London Heathrow (LHR)
- Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore (SIN) [Excursionist Perk]
- Hong Kong (HKG) to New York (JFK)
You can visit other cities between your flights by booking separate one-way airline tickets or other means of transportation.
For example, you might visit Amsterdam or France after landing in London Heathrow and book a separate one-way ticket from either city to Tokyo. That can be a separate award ticket with United or maybe you have some miles with another airline such as Emirates or Etihad and want to fly in luxury with a stop in Dubai or Doha on your way to Tokyo.
The possibilities are endless and you can easily squeeze some exceptional value using the Excursionist Perk. You can play around with United's multi-city award search to get an idea of what kind of itineraries you can create.
Fly Domestically In The U.S.
If you're looking to use your United Miles to fly domestically around the U.S., this is where you'll easily be able to get around 1.3 cents per mile (at minimum).
For example, let's look at this flight from Atlanta to Denver.
The cheapest round-trip tickets for Economy is $185 and the cheapest for First Class is $543. Looking at the same departure dates for award redemptions, a round-trip cost in Economy goes for around 12,000 miles plus 11.20 in taxes and fees. First class is going for as low as 53,000 miles plus 11.20 in taxes and fees.
The Economy redemption would give your United Miles a value of 1.4 cents each ($185 cash cost minus the $11.20 taxes/fees all divided by 12,000 United Miles). The first class redemption would only give your United Miles a value of 1 cent each ($543 cash cost minus $11.20 taxes/fees all divided by 53,000 United Miles).
In this example, I would consider the economy flight redemption to be fantastic and the first class redemption not so much.
Fly From The U.S. To Europe In Economy
You can find some solid value booking economy flights from the U.S. to Europe.
Let's say you wanted to fly to Rome in July from Atlanta and that dates did not matter. Searching the month of July, roundtrip tickets in economy start at $1,513 and business class cost $3,473.
Searching through July for award redemption, economy is 60,000 roundtrip and business is 310,000 round-trip. The taxes and fees going to Rome is $5.60 while the taxes and fees coming back are significantly higher at $66.95 for a total of $72.55 in fees roundtrip.
With this example, redeeming United Miles for the economy flight to Rome would be a value of 2.4 cents per mile which is fantastic. With the business Class redemption, it would be a little less than 1.1 cents per mile which is not the best.
United Miles can be used to book hotels through the United Airlines portal which will give you an average of about 0.68 cent per mile. That's about half the average value of redeeming your United Miles for airfare.
If you're looking to obtain free nights at hotels, your best bet would be to consider earning hotel rewards points. If you have a favorite chain, check to see if they have a rewards credit card as hotel credit cards can generally give you returns of 10% to 20% depending on the chain. Most cards also offer complimentary free nights annually which can help shave some of the cost off your travel.
United Car Rentals
United Miles can be used to rent cars with Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty. This will give your United Miles a value of around 0.75 cents per mile which isn't bad, but still less than what you would get with redemptions towards airfare.
The higher redemption values for car rentals will come from booking the smaller vehicles with Hertz. You'll also receive additional benefits booking with Hertz as they are partnered with United.
United Miles can be used to book cruises through the United Cruises portal. Booking a cruse with United Miles will give you a value of around 0.78 cents per mile. I was able to find a few of the high-end rooms (Suites) going for 1 cent per point.
Don't forget that you can also earn United Miles booking cruises through the United Cruises portal.
You can redeem United Miles for Gift Cards for a rate of 0.3 cents each. Most gift cards start at 3,333 United Miles for a $10 denomination.
Merchandise Awards & Apple
United Miles can be used to redeem electronics, housewares, jewelery, and more through the MileagePlus Awards Shop. The value of these redemptions will vary, but you can search by how many miles you're willing to spend. If you have a low amount of United Miles sitting in the dark corners of your account, awards look to start at 3,000 United Miles.
United Miles can also be used to purchase Apple products such as a Macbook, iPad, iPhone, or iWatch. To give you an idea of the cost, a 64GB iPhone XS Max costs 146,600 United Miles. The phone itself costs $1099 plus tax so you're looking at a value of around 0.75 cents per mile.
United's Subscription feature allows you to tie certain perks to your United Mileage Plus account number for the duration of a year. These are perks such as United Club membership, economy plus seats, baggage check, and WiFi. Signing up for any of these subscriptions will allow you to receive that perk for you and up to a certain amount of companions traveling with you.
United Club Membership
You can use your United Miles to pay for United Club Membership. This gives you access to 45+ United Club locations worldwide as well as access to visit select partner lounges around the world. United Club access will cost you some serious money, but if you make use of visiting the Clubs, it's worth it.
|United Club Membership|
|Membership (You)||85,000 United Miles ($650)||0.764 Cents|
|Membership (You + Spouse)||170,000 United Miles ($1,300)||0.764 Cents|
United Club Membership is complimentary with the United Club℠ Infinite Card which has a high annual fee, but is lower than the cost of buying an actual membership directly from United. Plus, you'll earn a bunch of benefits along with the ability to earn United Miles on everyday spend.
United Wi-Fi Subscription
You can use your United Miles to pay for a Wi-Fi subscription that you can use during your flights. The cost will depend on the duration you select. Do note that this type of Wi-Fi is for sending emails and messages, catching up on social media, and browsing internet sites. Streaming services and video clips will not apply (i.e. Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc.).
Redeeming your United Miles for Wi-Fi subscriptions will give you around an average value of 0.65 to 0.68 cents per United Mile.
|United Wifi Subscription|
|North/Central America Monthly||7,500 United Miles ($49)||0.65 Cents|
|North/Central America Annual||80,000 United Miles ($539)||0.67 Cents|
|Global Monthly||10,500 United Miles ($69)||0.65 Cents|
|Global Annual||100,000 United Miles ($689)||0.68 Cents|
United Miles can be used to pay for TSA PreCheck. This allows you to speed through (most times) TSA PreCheck checkpoints and can be useful for those who travel often. Using your United Miles for TSA PreCheck will give you a value of 0.77 cents per mile. Do note that this benefit is featured on several United credit cards including the United℠ Explorer Card which has no annual fee the first year.
|11,000 United Miles ($85)||0.77 Cents|
Transfer Miles To United Members
United Miles can be transferred to other United Mileage Plus members for a cost through their Buy, Transfer, or Reinstate Miles page.
This will cost you $7.50 USD per 500 United Miles which is rate of 1.5 cents per mile transfered. It will also cost you a processing fee of $30 per transaction. This means transferring something as small as 1,000 United Miles would cost you $45.
This particular method will only come in handy if someone you know is a few miles short of an award flight and needs that small boost in points. Just make sure you're transferring enough to make the cost worth it otherwise it's a slight chance that buying United Miles might end up the better option.
Convert United Miles To Dollars
Use the United Miles Value Calculator to determine the average cash value of United Miles when redeemed for flights, car rentals, gift cards, and more. This will give you an idea of how much your miles are worth on average.
|Award Flights (Research/Sweet Spots)||$0+|
|Award Flights (Average)||$0|
|United Club Membership||$0|
|United Wi-Fi Subscription||$0 - $0|
How much are United Miles worth?
The Point Calculator values United Miles at 1.3 cents each, but they can be worth significantly more with a little research.
What can you use United Miles for?
United Miles can be used for award flights with United and other airline partners. They can also be used for car rentals, hotels, lounge access, gift cards, and much more.