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United Airlines is one of the largest U.S.-based carriers and a founding member of the Star Alliance, which means you can earn United miles with any of its 25 partner airlines. The airline’s extensive network offers incredible opportunities to not only fly all over the world, but to redeem miles.
But in order to redeem United miles, you'll have to earn them first. So whether you're looking for a few more miles to quickly have enough miles to cover a free flight, or you're just now starting to build up your United MileagePlus bank, here are the best ways to earn United MileagePlus miles.
Here are the 32 best ways to earn United miles, including ways to earn miles without flying and some lesser-known options so you can maximize your earnings.
» Learn more: Travel loyalty program reviews
1. Sign up for United Airlines credit cards
By far, the best way to earn a lot of United miles quickly is by signing up for credit cards. United is currently offering three personal cards and two business cards. Note that all United cards are issued by Chase, which is important to keep in mind given Chase’s 5/24 rule on its credit cards.
Welcome bonuses usually start at 50,000 miles and can reach as high as 100,000 miles. If you see a high welcome offer on a card you’re considering, it makes sense to act quickly. All current offers are listed below:
Best personal card offer: United℠ Explorer Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $95): Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
United Quest℠ Card (annual fee: $250): Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
United Club℠ Infinite Card (annual fee: $525): Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Best business card offer: United℠ Business Card (annual fee: $0 intro for the first year, then $99): Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
United Club℠ Business Card (annual fee: $450): Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
» Learn more: What to know about United lounges
The ideal choice
If you’re just starting out earning United miles, signing up for the United℠ Business Card would provide a nice chunk of miles given the sizable welcome offer.
While this is a business card, you don’t have to own a corporation to apply. Do you sell anything on Amazon or eBay? If so, you may be approved. Input your Social Security number in the field that asks for a business tax ID and type in your home address as your business address.
Don’t be discouraged from applying if the income you earn from your hobby business is low. On your application, you’ll need to include all income earned, which includes your salary from a full-time job. The lender will evaluate your entire profile, not just the amount you include as your business income.
Many people don’t consider business cards because they believe they don’t actually have a side business. However, this is a common misconception. Although a business card may not work for everyone, if it works for you, it could provide an opportunity to access great travel rewards.
» Learn more: Which United credit card should you get?
2. Sign up for credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® and transfer to United
Another great way to earn United points is by transferring them from Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and the process is pretty straightforward. Chase is the only transferable points program that allows transfers to United. So if you fly with United often, a credit card from Chase that earns Ultimate Rewards® points can make a lot of sense. NerdWallet recommends the following cards:
Popular Chase credit cards
Personal Chase credit cards
Chase Sapphire Reserve® (annual fee: $550): 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®.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Business credit cards from Chase
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (annual fee: $95): Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $8,000 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®.
If you already have any of the cards mentioned above, you can apply for one of the following no-fee cards with Chase. The cash-back you earn can be combined with earnings from other cards as Ultimate Rewards® points. Having these cards in addition to the premium travel cards is a great way to increase your Chase Ultimate Rewards® point balance.
No-fee personal credit cards
Chase Freedom Flex℠ (annual fee: $0): Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® (annual fee: $0): Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
No-fee business credit cards
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn $900 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
How to transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards® to United
When you’re ready to transfer points from Chase to United, log into your Chase account and head over to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® page. From the menu at the top, select Transfer to Travel Partners.
Then, choose United from the choices provided and input your United MileagePlus details. This step will link your United and Chase accounts to allow for future transfers. Once your accounts are linked, you are ready to complete the points transfer.
Points are transferred at a 1:1 ratio and must be transferred in increments of 1,000. Most transfers are instantaneous, which is great because you won't have to worry about an award disappearing while waiting for the points to come in.
3. Sign up for Marriott credit cards and transfer Bonvoy points to United
Although many hotel programs allow you to convert hotel points to airline miles, the conversion ratios are usually weak and not really worth it. In most situations, you’d be better off keeping hotel points in your account and using them for a future stay.
However, Marriott offers a unique transfer bonus to United Airlines as part of a special partnership between United and Marriott called RewardsPlus. Under this partnership, when you convert Marriott points to United miles, you will receive a 10,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.
Thus, when you convert 60,000 Marriott points to United, you get a base transfer ratio of 3:1, but will receive 10,000 bonus MileagePlus miles. The calculation is as follows:
60,000 / 3 = 20,000.
20,000 + 10,000 = 30,000.
There are several Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to choose from depending on your travel and spending preferences. NerdWallet recommends the following Marriott Bonvoy credit cards:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (annual fee: $0): Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (annual fee: $650): Earn two 85K Free Night Awards after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Card in your first 6 months. Each award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. Card Members could enjoy a value of up to $1,200 when redeeming each reward. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/1/2023. Terms Apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (annual fee: $125): Earn 125,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $8,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 11/1/23. Terms Apply.
» Learn more: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card should I choose?
Regardless of which card you go with, if you’re using this method, always try to transfer Bonvoy points in increments of 60,000 so you can take advantage of the 10,000-mile bonus.
When a Marriott transfer to United makes sense
NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.8 cent each. As such, 60,000 Marriott points equate to $420. Based on our 1.2 cents valuation of United miles, 30,000 miles are worth $360. Considering this math, a conversion of Marriott points to United miles does not make a ton of sense.
However, it's important to think about this hotel point transfer in the context of your travel goals. Prospectively transferring Marriott points to United is probably not a good bet. However, if you need to top up your United balance so you can book an award — specifically one in a premium cabin, which often yields a higher redemption value — the transfer may make sense.
Remember that all our valuations reflect a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. United miles can be worth significantly more than 1.2 cents when redeemed for premium cabin seats.
If you're a Marriott Vacation Club owner
There's another Marriott-related conversion that doesn't require holding a Marriott credit card.
Marriott Vacation Club owners can exchange their points for miles, starting at 500 Vacation Club Points for 8,000 United miles — capped at 40,000 miles per member, per year.
Use American Express to maximize the conversion rate
Marriott is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, which often runs transfer bonuses.
If you have a United redemption in mind and the timing aligns with a transfer bonus from AmEx to Marriott, you could end up walking away with significantly more United miles after completing a three-way transfer, AmEx → Marriott → United.
When deciding on a points transfer from Marriott to United, check to see if there are any transfer bonuses going on to maximize your miles.
4. Earn United miles on credit card bonus categories
In addition to earning United miles each time you swipe your United credit card, you can also earn bonus miles on purchases in specified categories.
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.
Note that the United℠ TravelBank Card earns 2% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United and 1.5% on all other purchases. This card is different from the other cards because it does not earn United miles but instead earns cash back that can be redeemed on United flights only.
» Learn more: United TravelBank Card offers simplified rewards
The clear winner in terms of most bonus categories at 2x is the United Quest℠ Card.
However, if you’re a very frequent United flyer, you might benefit more from the United Club℠ Infinite Card. The card gets 4x on United purchases, 2x on all other travel and lounge access.
As always, when deciding which card to sign up for, evaluate your spending habits. To maximize your earnings, consider using your credit card for most if not all of your purchases, keeping in mind that you shouldn't charge more than you can repay each month. Carrying balances incurs interest that wipes out the value of any rewards.
Many people like to pay in cash when they go out to eat. However, if you’re trying to maximize your miles earned, start using a credit card for all restaurant charges. A small adjustment like this will allow you to earn points where a cash payment would not.
Consider a $100 dinner. If you charge that on the United℠ Explorer Card, you will end up with 200 United miles versus zero if you had paid in cash.
Though this can seem like an inconsequential number of miles (only worth about $2 in United value), you’d be surprised how quickly they add up. An extra few hundred miles can be the difference between having enough miles for a dream award seat or being slightly short and having to pay cash.
To maximize bonus categories, we recommend you get into the habit of strategically thinking about which credit cards you use for which purchases.
Save a note in your phone showing which credit cards earn bonus miles in specific categories, so you can maximize the number of miles you earn from everyday purchases.
5. Earn United miles on flights
Flying with United, Star Alliance airlines or with United’s other airline partners is an easy way to earn MileagePlus miles. First, register for a MileagePlus account. After registration, you will receive your MileagePlus number, which you can add to all future reservations.
Earn miles on United flights and partner airlines with tickets issued by United
Generally, the number of United miles earned depends on the price of the flight and your elite status level:
To illustrate how miles are earned, let’s take the following example of a $151 one-way flight from Newark to Cancun, Mexico, on Sept. 13, 2022.
United awards miles based on the fare portion only; taxes and fees are unfortunately not included.
If you are a basic member, you will earn 520 redeemable award miles: the $104 fare x a basic member earn rate of 5. This flight will also earn 1 Premier Qualifying Flight and 104 Premier Qualifying Points.
Earning miles on Star Alliance and partner airlines
You can also earn United miles when flying on 39 airline partners, 25 of which are part of Star Alliance. United’s membership in the Star Alliance network offers incredible opportunities for earning miles given the extensive coverage provided by the partner airlines.
To determine the number of miles earned for each flight, you will need to review each airline’s mileage policy. For example, a flight on Air Canada will earn miles based on the following rates:
To calculate the number of United miles earned, multiply the distance flown by the mileage earning percentage that corresponds to your fare class. To illustrate, say you’re flying from Toronto to Sao Paulo (5,075 miles) in fare class Q, which correlates to economy flex. Based on a 75% earning rate for that fare class, you will earn 3,806 United award miles for the flight.
» Learn more: Your guide to the United Airlines MileagePlus program
6. Shop on the United MileagePlus shopping portal
Earn United miles for shopping online through the airline’s MileagePlus Shopping portal.
To begin, register for an account using your MileagePlus number. Below you can see the earn rate at various featured merchants (note that these earn rates change often, so you may see different offers):
Upon logging in, search for a store and click on its offer. Once you complete your purchase, the transaction will be recorded.
Clicking through the MileagePlus Shopping portal is a simple way to earn miles for something you would buy anyway. For example, if you’re making a $200 purchase at Saks Fifth Avenue, by clicking through MileagePlus Shopping, you’ll earn 600 United miles given the 3x earn rate (as shown above). Miles will usually post within three to five days but can take up to 15 days.
Shop in store
The MileagePlus Shopping portal also lets you earn United miles on in-store purchases. From the MileagePlus Shopping homepage, choose “in-store miles” from the top menu, which will take you to a map of the U.S.
Click on “Expand map” and input your ZIP code. You will then see a list of merchants on a map, which is pretty handy for figuring out if any stores near you are participating.
A sample search of ZIP code 10001 in New York City revealed many participating stores. Click on a store’s marker on the map to view the earn rate.
Get a United browser button add-on
A new feature of the United MileagePlus Shopping mall is the ability to install a shopping button on your Google Chrome browser.
Once the button is installed, each time you visit an online merchant that participates in the MileagePlus Shopping portal, you will get a notification in the top right of your browser informing you of the earn rate.
Click on the purple “Activate” button to record the transaction. This button eliminates the need to visit the shopping portal each time you want to buy something online. This new feature is great for those who want to earn United miles for online purchases but forget to visit the shopping portal beforehand.
The MileagePlus shopping mall frequently offers bonuses for spending over a specified amount (usually about $200), so review the site periodically (or install the button) to see if you could earn extra miles.
7. Visit restaurants through MileagePlus dining
United participates in a restaurant dining rewards program that allows you to earn MileagePlus miles for dining at participating bars, restaurants or clubs. To start earning miles, sign up for a MileagePlus Dining account and add a debit or credit card to your profile.
Even if you don’t have a United co-branded credit card, you can use any card you have now. Whenever you visit a participating bar, club or restaurant, use the card in your profile and the miles will post automatically.
If you’ve never participated in the program, you can usually earn a bonus for signing up.
Currently, United is offering up to 3,000 bonus miles in your first 30 days. MileagePlus cardholders and United Premier frequent flyers can earn 1,500 for their first dining purchase and 500 miles each for three additional ones. If you don't have MileagePlus credit card, you will earn 1,000 miles on your first dine purchase and 500 each for the next three.
The number of United miles earned per $1 depends on your member level. Earnings range from 1 mile per $2 spent (basic members) to 5 miles per $1 spent (VIP members), which is a 5% return on your bill.
If you’re going out to eat, do a quick search on the MileagePlus Dining website to see if any restaurants near you participate in the program.
8. Use the United MileagePlus X app
Want to earn United miles on the go? The United MileagePlus X app offers an easy way to earn miles from your smartphone.
The app is an easy way to see several ways you can earn extra miles in one location. You’ll be able to earn miles on:
MileagePlus eGift card purchases.
Featured store apps.
If you hold a United credit card, you can also earn a 25% card member bonus plus up to 5 miles per $1 on all purchases with the MileagePlus X app.
9. Transfer points from hotels to United
You can convert hotel points to United miles. This is a great option for those who have hotel points that they don’t know what to do with (maybe you got a bunch of hotel points through work trips, but you prefer to stay in Airbnbs while traveling for personal vacations).
2,000 points:1,000 miles.
5,000 points:1,000 miles.
1 point:1 mile *Convert a minimum of 2,500 points.
10,000 points:1,000 miles.
2.5 points:1 mile *Receive a 5,000-mile bonus when you convert 50,000 points into 20,000 miles.
5 points:1 mile (10,000 points:2,000 miles).
2,000 points:200 miles 50,000 points:5,000 miles 100,000 points:10,000 miles.
6,000 points:1,200 miles 16,000 points:3,200 miles 30,000 points:6,000 miles.
To transfer hotel points, head over to the United hotel partner page and select the hotel you’re looking to transfer the points from. Log in to your account on the hotel’s website and look for the option to convert your hotel points to United miles.
10. Earn United miles for staying at hotels
United’s hotel partners
At many hotels, you can earn United miles instead of hotel points when staying. Below is a list of hotels that let you earn United miles instead of hotel points, as well as the earning rate.
Usually, it's not possible to earn both hotel points and airline miles with these partners, so a choice will have to be made. There’s no right or wrong answer; it really depends on your preferences and how relevant hotel points may be to your travels.
Best Western, Ascend Hotel Collection, Cambria Suites, Clarion, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Econo Lodge, MainStay Suites, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, Sleep Inn, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel.
250 miles per stay.
MainStay Suites earn 250 miles per stay in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe (excluding Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden).
Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva, Park Hyatt Hotels, Unbound Collection.
500 miles per stay.
Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, IHG, Staybridge Suites.
Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites earn 1 mile for every $1 spent. All other IHG properties earn 2 miles per $1 spent.
Cordis Hotels and Resorts, The Langham Hotels and Resorts, Eaton HK.
500 miles per night up to 1,500 per stay.
Eaton HK earns 250 miles per night up to 750 miles per stay.
AC Hotels by Marriott, aloft, Courtyard by Marriott, Element by Westin, Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Moxy Hotels, Protea Hotels, SpringHill Suites by Marriott.
1 mile for every $1 spent.
Autograph Collection Hotels, Delta Hotels, Design Hotels, EDITION, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Le Meridien, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, Residence Inn by Marriott, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, The Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts.
2 miles for every $1 spent.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts.
500 miles at Millenium and 250 miles at Copthorne properties.
Kerry Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Traders Hotels.
500 miles per stay.
AmericInn by Wyndham, Baymont by Wyndham, Days Inn by Wyndham, Dazzler by Wyndham, Dolce Hotels and Resorts by Wyndham, Esplendor Boutique Hotels by Wyndham, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, La Quinta by Wyndham, Microtel by Wyndham, Ramada by Wyndham, Super 8 by Wyndham, Trademark Collection by Wyndham, Travelodge by Wyndham, TRYP by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham, Wyndham, Wyndham Garden, Wyndham Grand.
Wyndham Rewards Blue and Gold Members earn 1 mile for every $1 spent per stay; Wyndham Rewards Platinum and Diamond Members earn 2 miles for every $1 spent per stay.
Villas of Distinction
Villas of Distinction properties.
Earn 3 miles per $1 when staying at luxury villas in over 50 countries.
You can also earn United miles by booking hotels through Rocketmiles, which is a booking site that allows you to earn from 1,000 to 10,000 points per night depending on the hotel. Generally, the more expensive the hotel, the more points you can earn per night.
However, it’s important to note that the cost of a stay booked with Rocketmiles can be more expensive than with other online travel agencies (likely due to a premium charged for earning lots of United miles). So keep this in mind when shopping around for a hotel.
You can also earn United miles when you book a hotel through United’s hotel portal, which lets you earn 2 miles per $1 spent (and sometimes offers special earning opportunities).
This could be a great option in these cases:
You’d like to earn United miles and hotel points for your stay.
The hotel you’d like to stay at isn’t listed as an earning partner in the list above.
The hotel you’d like to stay at is an earning partner, but the miles earned from your stay when booked through United Hotels exceed the miles you would earn based on the hotel partner chart above.
The example below shows you how many miles you might earn at Los Angeles hotels for a three-night stay in November:
Beverly Laurel Hotel
Staying at this property would earn 1,198 MileagePlus miles if booked through the United hotel portal. This hotel isn’t one of the partner hotels listed in the chart above, so booking through the United Hotel site is a great way to earn United points on your booking.
Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport
Another example where the United Hotel site wins is illustrated at this property. You will earn 1,247 United miles for this booking. This option results in a much better rate than if you were to book the hotel through United’s partner link to Hyatt, which would only earn 500 United miles per stay and no Hyatt points.
Before making your hotel reservation, check the MileagePlus shopping mall to see if there is an opportunity to earn United miles on your booking with the hotel or online travel agency. For example, we found the MileagePlus Shopping mall running a promo that earned 3 miles per $1 spent at Booking.com. If Booking.com has a cheaper price than the United Hotel site, this option might be an even better idea. And of course, this earn rate is in addition to any hotel points you’d earn on the booking.
11. Reserve vacation homes through Vrbo
If you prefer booking vacation rentals rather than hotels, you can now earn 3 miles for every $1 when booking stays through Vrbo. That's effectively a 3% return on how much you spent on your vacation rental in the form of United miles.
Similar to Airbnb, Vrbo allows you to book stays in houses, condos, cabins, yurts and more. You earn the miles after your stay is completed, and miles are awarded based on the cost of the rental only (excluding taxes, cleaning fees and all other fees).
12. Book car rentals
United has partnerships with Avis and Budget, allowing you to earn up to 1,250 United miles for car rentals.
To earn United miles, click “Book a car” and input any relevant discount codes.
Review your printed rental agreement to ensure your MileagePlus number is included so you can earn these miles.
13. Go on a cruise
If you love cruises, United has a cruise booking platform that lets you earn MileagePlus miles for taking a cruise to all sorts of destinations around the world. There are always various promos going on, especially for United cardholders, so taking a cruise could end up earning you lots of MileagePlus miles.
At the time of this writing, United cardmembers could earn up to 7x miles on their cruise purchase (with a limit of 45,000 miles per booking), which is a pretty sweet deal.
United Cruises offers a 110% best price guarantee. If you see a lower price on another website within 48 hours of booking, contact United Cruises to get a 110% refund of the price difference.
14. Book a vacation through United Packages
If you like booking your flight, hotel and car rental as a package deal, United offers that through its United Packages platform. Currently, you can earn 1,000 bonus miles on any package you book. If you have a United credit card from Chase, you can earn an additional 2 miles per $1 on bookings.
15. Get identity protection from LifeLock with Norton
LifeLock with Norton offers protection for your identity and electronic devices. You can earn up to 13,000 United miles and get 35% off your first year’s subscription when signing up for identity theft protection.
When you’re thinking of signing up for any type of service or purchasing anything online (e.g., energy service, cell phone provider, flowers, etc.) do a search to see if your preferred airline is offering miles with the specific vendor. You never know when you can pick up some additional miles.
16. Purchase flowers
Buying flowers is another way to pick up a lot of MileagePlus miles. United partners with these three online flower shops (offers may change):
1-800-Flowers: 15 United miles per $1 spent on flowers and gifts. Use promo code MP56.
17. Take online surveys with e-Rewards and Opinion Miles Club
Although this is an uninteresting way to earn United miles, if you have some time to kill, consider taking some surveys.
United partners with e-Rewards and Opinion Miles Club, both of which award United miles for completing surveys. Opinion Miles Club is offering at least 300 MileagePlus miles for signing up and taking your first survey.
To start earning miles, sign up for an account with either or both companies and fill out a questionnaire to find out which surveys you are eligible for.
18. Exchange money with Travelex
If you’re going on a trip and need to exchange money in advance (or just want to lock in an exchange rate), you can do so with Travelex and earn United miles for the transaction. Travelex allows you to earn 1 mile per $1 on exchanges over $500, and 1 mile per $2 on exchanges under $500, when exchanging money in advance.
However, be cautious about the exchange rate that you’ll actually receive because money exchanges usually have poor exchange rates and high fees.
When traveling internationally, ATM fees and commissions on money exchanges can add up. The best combo for saving money on foreign currency withdrawals is having an account with a bank like Charles Schwab, which waives foreign ATM fees.
However, if your bank doesn’t waive ATM fees, then using a cash exchange like Travelex could make sense (but you’ll need to do the math), especially if you can pick up some United miles along the way.
19. Purchase wine with Vinesse
You can earn 5,000 United miles (worth about $50), plus 5 miles per $1 spent when you sign up for Vinesse, an online wine club. The bonus is paid over two shipments: 2,000 miles after your first shipment and 3,000 miles after your second shipment.
20. Shop on MyPoints
MyPoints is a shopping portal that lets you earn points, which can be redeemed for gift cards or airline miles. If you join through United, you can earn up to 1,500 United miles. You will get 250 MileagePlus miles for signing up and activating your MyPoints account and 1,250 miles after making your first purchase of $50 or more within 30 days.
If you shop online already and MyPoints has the store you’re looking for, taking advantage of this offer is an easy way to pick up 1,500 United miles.
21. Order travel documents from VisaCentral
If you need to order travel documents such as a passport or visa for an international trip, you can do so with VisaCentral and earn United miles while you’re at it.
You can earn 1,000 MileagePlus miles for visa and passport services and 500 miles for Australian Electronic Travel Authority and U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization services. VisaCentral’s services are available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
22. Donate to charity
United has partnered with the National Foundation for Cancer Research to offer 10 MileagePlus miles for every $1 donated on contributions of $25 or more.
23. Purchase tickets to Broadway plays
Audience Rewards is Broadway’s official loyalty program. Through United’s partnership with Audience Rewards, you could earn up to 2,200 United miles per ticket, which varies by show.
24. Order meals with Home Chef
Home Chef offers weekly customized meal kits delivered to your door. If you sign up through United, you could earn 1,000 miles on each of your first five orders for a total of 5,000 United miles.
25. Take out a home loan through Quicken Loans
United lets you earn miles when closing a home purchase loan or refinancing an existing loan with two loan mortgage companies: Guaranteed Rate and Rocket Mortgage (formerly known as Quicken Loans).
With Guaranteed Rate, you can earn up to 50,000 miles after closing your home purchase loan or refinancing an existing loan.
Rocket Mortgage allows you to earn 25,000 MileagePlus miles for closing or refinancing a home.
If you’re planning on borrowing for a home purchase or refinancing your mortgage, look around to find the best rate available. Earning miles for such an important financial decision is a cherry on top, not the main factor. However, if you see that your rate available from Guaranteed Rate or Rocket Mortgage is the best out there, then taking advantage of this offer is a great way to earn 25,000-50,000 United miles.
26. Take out a business loan from MerchantRefi
If you’re looking for a business loan, MerchantRefi is offering MileagePlus members the opportunity to earn 10,000 United miles. To qualify, you must complete a questionnaire and be approved for a qualifying advance.
27. Get auto insurance from California Casualty Auto and Home Insurance
If you switch your auto insurance company to California Casualty Auto and Home Insurance, you can earn up to 20,000 United miles. The earnings are staggered, so if you want to earn the full 20,000 miles, you will need to keep coverage for three policy renewal periods.
The offer is not valid for residents of Alaska, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina or Wisconsin.
28. Use energy providers NRG or Reliant
Earn United miles for signing up with energy suppliers NRG or Reliant.
You can earn up to 12,500 United miles, plus 2 miles per $1 spent when you sign up with NRG Home.
If you live in Texas, you have the option of using Reliant. You can earn 15,000 United miles when you switch your utility provider to Reliant plus an extra 500 MileagePlus miles for each month you’re registered (for the next 24 months).
Make sure to read each provider’s terms and conditions. Independent energy providers can offer electricity at variable rates, which can introduce volatility into your monthly bill.
29. Buy a home security system through SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe sells home security systems, and you can earn up to 7,000 United miles when you buy a home security system from this company. You’d need to purchase one base station, one keypad and at least three additional sensors to qualify for the bonus.
If you’re looking to purchase a security system for your home, United’s partnership with SimpliSafe makes it easy to do so.
30. Book car service Execucar
United is currently offering the opportunity to earn bonus miles with a black car service, Execucar.
You can earn 150 United miles for one-way trips, and 300 United miles on round-trip rides when booking a black car.
Since Execucar is U.S.-based, it competes for customers with Lyft and Uber. In this case, it may make sense to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Uber offers benefits to certain AmEx cardholders, while Lyft has a partnership with Chase. Terms apply.
31. Book an airport shuttle
SuperShuttle offers shuttle service to and from airports; you can earn 50 United miles for every one-way ride or 100 miles round-trip. SuperShuttle operates in 50 domestic and international locations.
32. Purchase United MileagePlus miles
Although buying miles is a way to earn United miles, it generally ought to be your last resort given how expensive they are.
Padding your account to book an award flight.
Buying miles to book a first- or business-class award that is cheaper to book with miles than buying a cash ticket.
Buying a small number of miles to keep your miles from expiring.
If you need to buy miles, try to align the timing with an airline promo so you can get miles for a discount.
NerdWallet values United miles at 1.2 cents each, so keep this in mind when considering a miles purchase. Even in instances where you can purchase United miles for less than 1.2 cents, we’ve provided so many better (and cheaper) ways to earn MileagePlus miles that buying them should only occur when there’s no cheaper option available.
Final thoughts on earning United miles
United makes it easy to earn MileagePlus miles in so many different ways. The quickest way to get a head start is by earning credit card welcome offers and using credit cards for everyday spending.
Beyond that, consider which of these mileage earning opportunities apply to you and try to incorporate them into your daily routine. Earning miles in some of these random ways can be great for padding your United account and bringing you one step closer to your dream trip.
The information related to the United℠ TravelBank Card and United Club℠ Business Card ($450 annual fee) has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, see this page.
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