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Ready to book travel this year and looking to save some cash? There are plenty of ways to stretch your dollar when flying with United. If it’s your number one airline choice, here’s how to save on United flights.
5 ways to save money flying United Airlines
You probably already know classic money saving tips, like searching for flights during off-peak times and across airlines to find the best deal on airfare. But here are a few more ways to save on United flights specifically.
1. Use United’s flexible calendar
To find the best deals on United flights, start by selecting the “Flexible dates” option when searching for available flights. That flight search will produce a full month calendar, where each square lists the least expensive flight available on that day.
United also makes it easy to locate the cheapest fare during the selected period by putting it in green text instead of the usual blue. That way, you can easily find the day or days of the month that offer the cheapest flights.
Once you select your preferred day of travel, you’ll be able to see all of the flights available that day, including the highlighted cheapest fare in green.
» Learn more: Which United credit card is best?
2. Don’t always choose the cheapest option
The cheapest flight option will almost always be basic economy if that class of service is available (it’s not on all flights). But that doesn’t always make it the best option, especially since it’s also the most restrictive.
Basic economy may offer a few dollars’ worth of savings, but you won’t be able to bring a carry-on (just a personal item), you can’t select your seat, there are no refunds or changes and you can’t upgrade.
Economy fares, on the other hand, allow much more flexibility and sometimes only cost a few dollars more. In fact, on one flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, there was only a $4 difference. That upgrade is well worth it in our opinion.
That minor difference in fare won’t always be the case, of course. In another route search, the gap was closer to $50 per ticket. Either way, it’s worth looking at more than one class of service.
3. Check for United Airlines specials and deals
If you’re flexible with when and where you travel, you might be able to score some savings on United’s destination deals page — this is where United Airlines' discount fares are featured. But instead of searching for an exact itinerary, it’s best to browse through available options by selecting just your departure destination.
After you do so, keep the date boxes blank to see a list of featured destinations and the dates you can find good deals on both domestic and international flights. Or scan for cheap United flights by state, popular domestic routes or region of the world.
» Learn more: Is United Airlines good?
4. Book cheap United tickets with Money + Miles
Have a handful of miles sitting in your account but it’s not enough for an award ticket, or maybe they’re about to expire? Save money on your next flight purchase by booking with Money + Miles.
Select “Money + Miles” as your payment method during checkout, then use the slider to select how many miles you’d like to redeem. The tool will then show you how much is left to pay in cash.
You can use as few as 510 United miles — and up to as many as 17,000 — in order to put your awards to use and save some money. You’ll also be able to see how many miles you have and how many you’ll have left after redemption.
» Learn more: The complete guide to United MileagePlus
5. Earn More United miles
You can book United and their partners' flights for almost free if you have enough miles. If you don't fly United often, there are plenty of other ways to get United miles, from transferring miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards® to shopping through United's online portal. You might also want to consider one of the United Airlines co-branded credit cards.
United purchases earn rate
Other purchases earn rate
United Quest℠ Card
2x on dining, all other travel and select streaming services.
United Gateway℠ Card
2x on gas stations and local transit and commuting — including train tickets, taxi cabs, mass transit, tolls and rideshare services.
United℠ Explorer Card
2x on restaurants and on hotel stays.
United Club℠ Infinite Card
2x on dining and all other travel.
United℠ Business Card
2x on local transit and commuting — including train tickets, taxi cabs, mass transit, tolls, rideshare services, gas stations, restaurants and office supply stores.
United Club℠ Business Card
1.5x on all purchases.
» Learn more: Reasons to get the United℠ Explorer Card
If you want to find cheap United flights
When trying to figure out how to save on United flights, there are plenty of methods at your disposal. Start by using United’s fare calendar to find the cheapest days to fly, checking to see if basic economy offers the best value or just the lowest price, scanning for deals and specials to exciting destinations, and putting what may seem like a meager collection of MileagePlus miles to good use by paying with Money + Miles.
If you're a more-than-occasional United flyer, are in the market for an airline credit card and would like lounge access and TSA PreCheck, the United℠ Explorer Card may be worth a second glance.
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