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United miles are worth about 1.2 cents each.
The timeframe of booking won't impact the value of your miles for most main cabin fares.
The United MileagePlus program is one of the largest, and most complicated, airline rewards systems in the world. Learning how to navigate it starts with knowing how much its currency — miles — are worth.
Here’s the short answer: The value of United MileagePlus miles is roughly 1.2 cents each. You can get more or less value from each mile depending on when and how you use them, but this is a good estimate for comparing your own redemptions.
How much are United miles worth?
We estimate that each United mile is worth 1.2 cents, but this is a baseline value, not a maximized value based on comparing real-world cash and award fares in main cabin. You can get considerably more bang from your miles by researching carefully, targeting partner airlines, leveraging the Excursionist Perk and booking business class (see below). You can also get considerably less value by using your United miles carelessly. Just like real money, there are better and worse ways to use award miles.
Calculator: Convert United miles to dollars
With the calculator below, you can quickly figure out how much your United miles are worth based on our estimated value.
» Learn more: The best United Airline credit cards
United MileagePlus Miles value over time
United miles rose in value during NerdWallet's last valuation after a consistent three years.
How do United miles compare with other airlines?
United falls near the middle of the airline pack with its mile value.
» Learn more: How much are your airline miles and hotel points worth?
When is the best time to use United miles?
We compared the value when booking at three different time frames:
180 days before departure.
15 days before departure.
Peak holiday travel (Dec. 22-29).
United miles are worth roughly the same across these three time frames, though in our analysis, miles were worth slightly less when you redeem them for holiday flights.
Can United miles be used on other airlines?
Yes, United miles can be used to book flights on United, of course. They can also be used to book flights on dozens of partner airlines (through the United search tool, not by transferring to partners), upgrade to premium cabin seats and even upgrade Star Alliance partner flights.
You can also use these miles for unusual purchases such as magazine subscriptions and rental cars, but in general these redemption options don’t offer great value.
How did we determine the value of United miles?
We collected hundreds of data points comparing the cash value with award (mile) value for the same routes and dates. That is, we compared the cost of a given ticket in either cash or miles, across many tickets.
This method differs from others in that it looks at actual redemptions rather than hypothetical, maximized redemptions. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a real-world indication of how much these miles are worth, on average. That said, it doesn’t take into account the upper range of potential values.
Wondering what you can do with those miles? Check out our guide to booking award flights with United.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card