The United MileagePlus program is a great option for frequent flyer. The program makes it easy to earn miles, and it’s got a huge network of domestic and international routes thanks to their vast array of Star Alliance and non-alliance partners.
See our best credit card bonuses here.
If you frequently fly with United Airlines then you may want to consider signing up for the United MileagePlus. Continue reading as we go over the best ways to redeem your United MileagePlus miles, along with a couple redemption tricks to stretch your rewards.
United MileagePlus Redemption Quick Facts
|Best RedemptionOptions||United flights
Restaurants.com gift cards
|Average Mile Value||$0.014|
The United? Business Card offers 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
You can also receive 5,000-mile better-together anniversary bonus when you have the United Business Card and a personal United credit card.
You'll earn 2X miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining (including eligible delivery services), at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting; 1X mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
The card does carry a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99. You're able to save up to $140 per round-trip with a free checked bag. In addition, you can enjoy priority boarding privileges and have the opportunity for two one-time United ClubSM passes each year — Over $100 in value per year.
Also, enjoy $100 annual United travel credit after 7 United flight purchases of $100 or more.
United MileagePlus Important Redemption Details
Before we start discussing the best ways to redeem your MileagePlus miles, let’s go over some imPortant details about the redemption process:
- You can book one-way and roundtrip awards.
- United does not pass on fuel surcharges on partner awards.
- United charges a $75 close-in fee for awards booked within 21 days of departure. MileagePlus Premier members enjoy reduced or no fee on last-minute awards.
United has a large and extensive networks for domestic and international flights so MileagePlus members have hundreds of destinations to choose from – and that’s not including partner awards.
Pricing for MileagePlus award is dynamic, but zone-based. The region of your departure and arrival affect the number of miles required for a flight. Other factors include time of year and fare type. In order to figure out exactly how many miles you’ll need for a given award, use the United interactive award chart.
Best Ways To Redeem With United
In general, go for Saver Awards if you want the most bang for your MileagePlus rewards. You’ll get an average of $0.014 for an Economy Class ticket. That’s in-line with what we currently value United miles. Saver Awards for Business and First Class hold even more value – approximately $0.027 each mile.
Keep in mind, Saver Awards are limited and may not be available for times and routes that are in high demand.
United Polaris offers lounge access at United’s hub airports, aisle access for every seat, and a 16-inch, inflight, touchscreen entertainment system. This Business Class product is something you definitely want to consider on a long-haul flight.
Destination: Europe / Asia / South Pacific
Miles: 60,000 / 70,000 / 80,000 for a one-way ticket
MileagePlus has limited-time sales that gives discounts on Saver Awards. In the past, United has offered deals like:
- The Sun and Ski Sale with 40% off roundtrip Saver Economy Awards to Hawaii, Aspen, Sun Valley and Jackson, Wyoming.
- 20% off Saver Awards to Asia and the South Pacific, including China, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
For current award sales, click here.
There are a variety of Star Alliance and non-alliance partners for United, meaning that your MileagePlus miles can be used on a variety of carriers and routes worldwide.
Star Alliance partners include:
Other airline partners include:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti
- Boutique Air
- Cape Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airways
As previously mentioned, United does not impose fuel surcharges on partner award tickets. That said, there is a price that comes with this news. United’s premium-class award tickets for long-haul partner flights are usually priced higher than United awards. For example, a Business Class award flight from Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA):
|60,000 miles||70,000 miles|
Even so, unless you’re flying United Polaris, we think premium-class partner awards are worth the extra miles.
Lufthansa’s First Class product is an amazing experience. But at over $4,000 one way, it’s not within the average Joe’s budget. Luckily, you can snag a free ticket with your United miles. Plus, if you book your award through MileagePlus – as opposed to Lufthansa’s Miles and More program – you’ll save over $400 in fuel surcharges.
We recommend making a connection in Frankfurt, Lufthansa’s hub, so you can experience the First Class Terminal. It’s considered one of the best airport lounges in the world. When it’s time to board your connecting flight, you’ll be whisked away to the aircraft in a Porsche.
Miles: 110,000 for a one-way ticket
Thai Airways isn’t a well-known carrier in the United States, but it should be on your radar if you’re looking to travel to or from Asia. With a First Class ticket, you’ll have access to a special check-in area, a complimentary hour-long massage at the Royal Orchid Spa and the Thai Airways First Class lounge (if you’re departing from or connecting in Bangkok).
Thai Airways does not currently fly to the United States, but you can connect through Europe with a Star Alliance partner.
Destination: Bangkok (from Europe)
Miles: 145,000 for a one-way ticket
Like other carriers, ANA First Class provides spacious seating and high-end champagne. But what sets the Japan-based airline apart is its fantastic service. If you don’t have enough mileage for a First Class award, their Business Class isn’t too shabby either.
Miles: Business 80,000 / First 110,000 for a one-way ticket
Out of all the carriers in the world, Turkish Airlines flies to the most destinations. That means you have plenty of choices for Business Class awards. We recommend connecting in Istanbul so you can experience the airline’s top-notch Business Class lounge.
Destination: Europe / Africa / Japan
Miles: 70,000 / 80,000 / 80,000 for a one-way ticket
It’s just 80,000 MileagePlus miles to fly Business Class with a Star Alliance partner from the United States to anywhere in Africa. While your first thought might be to fly with Ethiopian Airlines or South African Airways, we suggest first making a stop in Europe for an even better travel experience.
Swiss Air offers a solid Business Class product you can take full advantage of by routing through Switzerland. And Austrian Airlines has a great Business Class with excellent catering service.
Destination: Africa (with stopover in Europe)
Miles: 80,000 for a one-way ticket.
The flight from the United States to New Zealand is an excruciatingly long one, so you’ll want a comfortable seat that reclines to a bed, good catering and a friendly crew. Guess what? Air New Zealand’s Business Class ticks all those boxes.
Destination: New Zealand
Miles: 80,000 for a one-way ticket
The Excursionist Perk
The Excursionist Perk is one of the best ways to maximize MileagePlus miles. This allows you to tack on a free segment on qualifying, roundtrip itineraries, essentially adding another city to your journey at no extra cost. Here are some rules to keep in mind with this feature:
- You must travel to a region outside of where you begin your journey. If you’re flying from North America, you need to travel outside of North America.
- Your travel must end in the same region where you began your travel. If you’re flying from North America, you need to end your travel in North America.
- The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk must be within the same region.
- The cabin of service and award type 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, only the first one will be free.
The Excursionist Perk can used in either simple or creative ways. With creative redemption, you’ll be able to stretch your miles further it just takes more work.
The simplest way to use the Excursionist Perk is to add a free leg between two cities in the same region. For example, booking a roundtrip award to Europe and adding a segment between two European cities.In the example above, the Vienna to London segment would be an Excursionist Perk, priced at 0 miles.
There are loads of creative ways to use the Excursionist Perk. The trick is to use open jaws.
- East Asia (Business Class: 45,000 miles)
- Seoul to Taipei
- Taipei to Singapore (open jaw)*
- Singapore to BKK (layover) to Hong Kong (Excursionist)
- Hong Kong to Beijing (open jaw)*
- Beijing to Seoul (layover) to Jeju
- South Asia (Economy Class: 85,000 miles)
- Chicago to Istanbul (layover) to Kathmandu
- Kathmandu to Delhi (open jaw)*
- Delhi to Bengaluru (layover) to Male (Excursionist)
- Male to Columbo (open jaw)*
- Columbo to Bangkok (layover) to Taipei (layover) to Chicago
- Ecuador & The Galapagos (Economy Class: 40,000 miles)
- Houston to Quito
- Quito to Guayaquil (open jaw)*
- Guayaquil to Baltra (Excursionist)
- Baltra to Quito (layover) to Houston
*You’re responsible for getting from Point A to Point B in an open jaw. Open-jaw travel is not included in the award cost.
If you’re a frequent flyer, consider joining United MileagePlus. You can take advantage of endless options for your United MileagePlus miles, thanks to its long list of airline partners and its stopover policy. Plus you’ll enjoy a top-of-the-line award search engine as well as low taxes and fees on award tickets.