Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
This list has all the airlines you can book with United miles, as long as the airline has made award space available on the flight you want.
|Region||Airline||Where to check award space||Fuel surcharges|
|Asia||Jet Airways||JetAirways.com (registration required) or call United||None|
|Asia||Singapore||Aeroplan.com (registration required) or call United||None|
|Latin America||Azul Brazil||Call United||None|
|North America||Air Canada||United.com||None|
|North America||Cape Air||United.com||None|
|North America||Great Lakes||United.com||None|
|North America||Hawaiian Airlines (within Hawaii only)||United.com||None|
|North America||Island Air||United.com||None|
|North America||Silver Airways||United.com||None|
|Pacific||Air New Zealand||United.com||None|
Beware that international awards on partner airlines in Business and First Class can often cost much more than awards on United’s own flights.
Some of the better values if you can find them are:
Yes you can, though you usually get more bang out of your miles by booking a First or Business Class award on its own, as United charges lots of cash fees for upgrades. You can read all about upgrading on United here.
If you can’t find award seats at the Saver price you can only waitlist for premium cabin (First, Business Class) award space on United’s own flights. There are two ways to do this:
United will let you waitlist to clear into First or Business Class if you book an award at the First / Business Class price but are stuck in coach for some of the flights. If the flights in coach are on partners you can’t waitlist, but you can call to be put into the higher cabin if you see space open up later on. You can read more about Mixed Cabin awards here.
You can book one stopover when you fly a roundtrip award ticket, so you can stay in two cities during your trip.
So for example you can fly Chicago to Paris (stopover) to Rome (destination) then back to Chicago.
United also allows an ‘open jaw’ so your roundtrip ticket can return to a different city in the same region. So in the example above you could return to New York or Los Angeles instead of Chicago.
Stopovers on awards that only include domestic or Canada travel will require more miles than a standard roundtrip, but they are ‘free’ on other international awards.
United does not offer holds of awards, though if you book an award you can cancel it within 24 hours free of charge.
If you’re short on United miles, you can book United flights using miles other than United MileagePlus.
Any Star Alliance partner’s miles can access the basic Saver level award seats open to base level MileagePlus members, so if you have a credit card that earns transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou, you have a few options to book United flights without using United miles.
Economy Class seats come from ‘X’ class, and Business Class seats come from ‘I’ class, while First Class seats come from ‘O’ class.
Holding these cards gives you access to extra Economy Class Saver award space via United’s ‘XN’ bucket.
These cards let you transfer the points they earn into your or your spouse’s United account any time at 1 point = 1 mile.
You have to pay if you want to transfer miles from your account to someone else, and United charges $7.50 for every 500 miles you transfer, or 1.5 cents each.
You’re better off booking an award for someone else from your own account, since you can use your miles to book tickets for anyone you’d like, even if you’re not traveling.
United miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. Any earning or spending of miles counts as activity, so as long as you do that, it will extend the expiration date of your miles another 18 months. And you can extend the expiration as many times as you’d like. You can read about options to stop them from expiring here.
To avoid hassle, if you plan to earn some miles to keep them from expiring, like through online shopping, try to make sure your earning activity happens about 2 months before your miles are set to expire, as it can take a while before partner miles appear in your account.
Holding a United branded credit card automatically exempts you from this requirement.
If your miles did expire, you can pay a fee to reinstate them, based on how many you’d like to reinstate.
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