Earn MilesLoyalty

18 Ways To Earn Lots United Miles

United Airlines is one of the most beloved frequent flyer programs in the United States. Whether you prefer the loyalty scheme because you fly United a lot, just like the airline or you get lots of United service at your airport of choice, if you’re a MileagePlus member, you’re likely looking to earn as many miles as possible. Simple Flying has put together the top 18 ways to earn United Miles, so you can start reaping the rewards faster. 

Photo: United

1. Get a MileagePlus Account and Transfer Miles

If you don’t have one already, what are you waiting for? You can’t earn miles until you have a MileagePlus account. Don’t worry, though — if you just can’t handle another credit card in your wallet, you don’t need to sign up for one to be a MileagePlus member (though it certainly helps with the miles-earning, but we’ll get to that later). You can, in fact, transfer points and miles from other loyalty programs to your MileagePlus account, if you so prefer. These transferrable points include those earned from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Rewards. The former transfer at a rate of 1:1, and there are no transfer limits. So, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you’re all set to begin transferring and seeing the miles accumulate. 

2. Flying United

Photo: United

Obviously, you’ll earn miles when you fly United, based on your status within the MileagePlus program. If you’re just a basic member and haven’t earned a premier status, then you’ll receive 5x the fare. 

If you have a higher status, though, you’ll receive up to 11x the fare. 

  • Premier Silver members receive 7x the fare
  • Premier Gold members receive 8x the fare
  • Premier Platinum members receive 9x the fare
  • Premier 1K members receive 11x the fare

To earn a higher status and therefore earn more miles, you just have to simply fly more and spend more, so you can earn Premier-qualifying miles (PQM), Premier-qualifying dollars (PQD) and Premier-qualifying segments (PQS). 

  • To earn Silver status, you have to accumulate 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS and $3,000 PQD
  • To earn Gold status, you need 50,000 PQM or 60 PQS and $6,000 PQD
  • For Platinum, you need 75,000 PQM or 90 PQS and $9,000 PQD
  • For 1K status, you need 100,000 PQM or 120 PQS and $15,000 PQD

3. Flying with Partner Airlines

When you fly with United’s partner airlines, you earn United miles based on flight distances rather than flight fare. 

United’s partner airlines include Star Alliance members:

There are also a few select other airline partners. These include: 

4. The United Explorer Card

The primary miles-earning card that United MileagePlus members use is the United Explorer Card. This Chase co-branded card gives you 2 miles per dollar on hotels, dining and United purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. There’s a similar United Explorer business card, and it also earns 2 miles at gas stations and office stores (but not hotels).

You get a few little extra perks when you have these cards as well, which makes things nice, like free checked bags and priority boarding.  

The current sign-up offer for the United Explorer Card is 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months.

5. Referrals

Like many cards, the United Explorer Card gives you the ability to refer a friend and then earn miles if they sign up for a card. These referral promotions aren’t always available, so keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity. When you can catch them, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles if your friend is approved and uses the card in three months on any purchase. 

6. Shopping, Two Ways: Mileage Plus Shopping Portal

Photo: United

Firstly, there’s the MileagePlus Shopping Portal.

The MileagePlus Shopping portal allows you to earn bonus miles for everyday purchases from your favorite brands. Specials are available almost always, giving you more ways to earn more miles on specific products. 

All you have to do to earn is go to the shopping portal, search through more than 900 stores and brands, click on the one you want, go straight to the brand’s own website and make a purchase. Then, miles are credited to your account.

7. Shopping, Two Ways: MileagePlus X App

Then, you have the MileagePlus X app, which allows you to earn extra miles on purchases that you make while on the go. The MileagePlus X app was recently rebooted to give you a better user experience. It still has a ways to go, but if you really want the miles, it is an option. You can earn up to 5 miles per $1 spent at just about any store or restaurant. However, once you’re ready to check out at a store, you have to enter your total price into the MileagePlus X app, which then will issue you a gift card for that amount, and then the cashier has to scan the gift card code on your phone. It’s a bit of a long process that’s not as straightforward as it should be. 

8. Dining

Earn more miles on dining.

While you do already receive 2 miles per $1 spent on dining when you use your United Explorer Card, you can earn even more miles when you join the United MileagePlus Dining Program. Just sign up online and then register with your MileagePlus account number. You can connect any card you like to your account. Then, when you use that credit card at participating restaurants, you earn miles. 

You receive 1 mile per dollar spent as a basic member, 3 miles per dollar spent as a select member and 5 miles per dollar spent as a VIP member.

Basic members are those that have only signed up for the program. Select members have elected to receive emails from the program with a valid email address. VIP members receive emails and also have completed at least 11 qualified transactions in the calendar year. VIP status begins on your 12th transaction. 

9. Ground Travel

You can earn miles for ground travel with a variety of United partners. 

Earn miles on train travel with Amtrak, a total of up to 750 miles depending on your fare class and destination. 

On SuperShuttle trips, earn 50 miles one-way. 

For car rentals, earn with Dollar, Hertz and Thrifty.

  • Dollar rentals get you 50 miles per day up to four days, or 500 miles per rental over five or more days
  • Hertz rentals give you up to 1,250 miles per rental, depending on your MileagePlus status
  • Thrifty rentals get you 50 miles per day up to four days, or 500 miles per rental over five or more days

10. Hotel Stays

Just about every hotel brand offers you United miles in some form or fashion. Photo: Hotel Indigo/IHG

United also has a lot of hotel partners that allow you to earn miles. 

Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on your stay with the following brands:

aloftHiltonHoliday InnHotel IndigoHoward Johnson
RenaissanceRamadaSheratonInterContinentalJW Marriott
St RegisKnights InnCrowne PlazaLe MeridienLuxury Collection
Super 8Days InnMarriottMicrotelTravelodge
elementW HotelsWestinWingateFour Points

Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on your stay with these brands:

Waldorf AstoriaHampton InnEmbassy SuitesFairfield InnTownePlace
DoubletreeCourtyardStaybridge SuitesConradSpringHill Suites
Canopy by HiltonCandlewoodHomewoodHome2SuitesResidence Inn

Earn 500 miles per stay, when you stay with the following brands:

HawthornRafflesAndazShangri-La
HyattSwissotelPark HyattPreferred Hotels
WyndhamRadissonRadisson Blu

Earn 250 miles per stay, when you stay with these brands:

Quality InnPark Inn
Econo LodgeCountry Inn & Suites
Comfort Inn & SuitesSleep Inn
CambriaAscend Hotels

For many of the above, you will need to join the hotel brand’s loyalty program, and then indicate that you would like to credit your stays to your United MileagePlus account. 

11. Cruises

Book a cruise and you can earn miles for that, too.

If you’re thinking of taking a cruise sometime in the near future, you can book with United Cruises and earn miles on your total spending. You’ll earn up to 45,000 award miles and you can still book with many of your favorite cruise brands, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity Cruises. 

12. United Club Membership

If you use the United Club quite a lot and the United Explorer Card‘s two annual passes just won’t cut it for you, you can get a United Club Membership along with the United Club Card. This card gives you a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and you get access to all United Clubs to boot. 

While this card has a lot of perks, do note that it does come with a $450 annual fee. However, for that, you get the $550-valued club membership, access to premier travel services like expedited security screening, free bags, elite status with Hertz and more. 

13. Prepaid Cards

If you don’t want a credit card, you can get a United MileagePlus prepaid card (or maybe even get one if you are a college student) and reap some miles that way. The MileagePlus GO Visa prepaid card allows you to earn up to 2,500 miles each month. Just load some cash onto your card, use it and earn. 

14. MileagePlus Golf

Spend a lot of time on the golf course? You can earn miles for that.

Spend a lot of time on the golf course? Then MileagePlus Golf might be a program you want to look into. You earn award miles for every dollar spent on golfing needs, from tee times to apparel. You’ll earn at least 4 miles per dollar spent on these two things, then 6 miles per dollar spent on closeout golf merchandise. When you download the GolfLogix app, you receive 50 miles and when you upgrade to GolfLogix premium, you receive an additional 250 miles. Attend a golf training program and receive 1,000 miles. 

15. Financial Services

Earn United miles even when you refinance your home.

United has partnerships with two financial service providers — Quicken Loans and Lending Club. With the former, you can earn 25,000 miles for closing or refinancing a home loan through Quicken Loans. If it’s something you were already planning on doing, it’s good to know so you can take advantage of the miles earning potential. With the latter, you can earn one mile for every $1 you borrow with a personal loan through Lending Club, up to 40,000 miles. 

16. Other Brands

There are plenty of other brands that you can get miles with when you make a purchase. You’ll want to look into all the fine details that come with your MileagePlus account. For example, when you buy a certified, pre-owned Mercedes-Benz, you receive 25,000 bonus miles. You can also earn with a lot of online gift retailers, like Vinesse Wines, Shari’s Berries, Harry & David and more. 

17. Charitable Contributions

When you make a charitable contribution to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, you receive 10 miles for every dollar you give, on donations of $25 or more. 

18. Gas and Fuel

Fuel up and earn more miles.

If you’re a member of BP Driver Rewards, if you connect your MileagePlus account, you can earn up to 3 miles per gallon when you make a fuel purchase. You additionally receive 200 miles just for joining. 

Final Thoughts

You can find a way to earn United miles just about anywhere you spend money, whether you’re buying travel, fuel, Christmas gifts or just dinner. Sometimes it does take a little bit of extra work (as is the case with the United MileagePlus X App), but it can’t be said that it’s too difficult to earn United miles. With some homework and carefully calculated spending choices, you’ll be flying for free in no time.

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