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You can use the MileagePlus X app in conjunction with your regular shopping habits to earn lots of United miles, as well as any miles and points you’d earn from using a credit card for purchases. There are no fees involved and you don’t even have to fly United to take advantage of it.
The MileagePlus X app is an app that allows you to earn extra United miles for buying gift cards with participating stores that are stored in the app itself, so there are no physical cards to carry around.
When you are out shopping, the MileagePlus X app uses your GPS location to determine if there are any participating stores nearby, and buy the gift card to cover your purchase on the spot. Each of the participating merchants lets you pay with the app gift cards in person. Or, you can buy gift cards via the app at home for online shopping, or to use later.
You can easily earn up to five extra United miles per dollar spent at stores and restaurants that you shop at anyway. The app is connected to your United MileagePlus account and miles will post automatically.
For example, if you’re going out to dinner with some friends and end up with a $200 bill at Buffalo Wild Wings you can pay through the app and earn 4 miles per dollar, or 800 miles.
You fund the app on the spot by using a credit card, which purchases the gift card that’s stored in the app.
Once you pay in the app, you’ll see a screen with the gift card code. You can hand that to the cashier, or come back to it later if you’re shopping online.
Your purchased cards are stored for access anytime in the ‘Purchases’ section of the app.
Since you get to pay for the gift cards with a credit card, you’ll also earn miles or points from your credit card for the gift card purchase, letting you double dip and earn even more miles.
Let’s say you pay with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
That’s a total of 1,400 miles and points on a $200 purchase, or 7x, which is a phenomenal deal.
How purchases code for bonus spending categories like the 3x on travel with the Sapphire Reserve depends on the card type you’re using to make the purchase.
American Express cards code as an airline purchase from United (though not as airfare, so the 5x points on airfare of the Amex Platinum doesn’t apply), while Visa and Mastercards generally code as the underlying merchant that the gift card is for. So buying a gift card for a restaurant would count as a dining purchase.
This can help you earn a lot more miles in bonus spending categories.
And it gets even better.
If you have a Chase United MileagePlus credit card (like the Explorer, Select, Club) on file, you will automatically earn a 25% bonus on United miles through the United MileagePlus X app.
It’s not a requirement to use the card for the purchase, just to have it on file in the app.
Typically points take one week to post to your MileagePlus account, but some post more quickly than that, so this is a great way to earn miles to keep your MileagePlus account from expiring.
You can generally earn up to 5 miles per dollar from the app, with some as low as 1 mile per dollar, and everything in between, and sometimes United will offer special bonuses to earn even more.
At the time of writing, here are a handful of merchants that are offering 5 United miles per dollar spent:
If you have a Chase Freedom card, you can get 5x Ultimate Rewards points in rotating categories each quarter like restaurants.
So if you pay for MileagePlus X restaurant gift cards while restaurants are a 5x category for the Freedom you can earn up to 10x on purchases – up to 5 United Miles in the app and 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Freedom.
And if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee like the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, you can transfer the points you earn from a Freedom into airline partners like United MileagePlus anytime, so you can pool everything in your MileagePlus account.
There are a few limitations to using the United MileagePlus X app.
The biggest downside is that using a gift card instead of your credit card, you won’t be covered by any of the built in protections that your credit card might have. This include price protection, damage protection, extended warranty, and so on.
And if you ever need to return merchandise that was purchased with a gift card through the United MileagePlus X app, keep in mind that your refund will be given in the form of a gift card. You will not be able to refund the gift card back to your credit card or turn it into cash, but you’ll keep all the miles and points you earned.
But putting it all together, with the MileagePlus X app, you can…
It all adds up to big earning on spending you’re already doing, online and off.
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