How to Save Money on United Airlines Flights

Having flexibility with your travel dates and destination can make it easier to find a great deal on United.
Alisha McDarris
By Alisha McDarris 
Updated
Edited by Meg Lee

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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.

how to save on united flights

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.

how to save on united 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.

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.

how to save on united flights

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.

how to save on united flights

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.

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.

Card name

United purchases earn rate

Other purchases earn rate

United Quest℠ Card

3x.

2x on dining, all other travel and select streaming services.

United Gateway℠ Card

2x.

2x on gas stations and local transit and commuting — including train tickets, taxi cabs, mass transit, tolls and rideshare services.

United℠ Explorer Card

2x.

2x on restaurants and on hotel stays.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

4x.

2x on dining and all other travel.

United℠ Business Card

2x.

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

2x.

1.5x on all purchases.

How to protect your travel investments

If you're worried about losing the value of your United flight booking — or having it tied up as a flight credit with the airline — consider purchasing travel insurance. This optional standalone coverage can be purchased separately from your airfare.

But you might not even need to pay out-of-pocket for trip insurance because many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for a flight on that card. Find out if your United credit card has travel insurance.

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 2024, including those best for:

United Cards from our Partners
Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card

on Chase's website

United℠ Explorer Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-2x

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Miles

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Miles
Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Business Credit Card

on Chase's website

United℠ Business Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-2x

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, dining, at gas stations, office supply stores, and on local transit and commuting. Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

100,000

Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Miles
Chase United Quest Credit Card

on Chase's website

United Quest℠ Card
4.6
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-3x

Earn 3x miles on United® purchases, 2x miles on dining, select streaming services & all other travel, 1x on all other purchases

Miles

Intro offer

70,000

Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Miles
See more United cards
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