United MileagePlus Rewards Program Overview

By Anik Khan
Updated June 4, 2019


MaxInsights offers a numerical analysis and recommendation of how to best use this reward system.

MileagePlus miles are best redeemed for international travel, in which case they’re worth approximately 1.5 cents apiece. They’re worth even more when you’re exploring business- and first-class fares. Generally, any redemption option that values points at less than 1.5 cents per dollar should be avoided.

Expected Value
  • MaxValue International business travel (up to 3.1 cents per point)
  • MaxFlex Domestic travel (approximately 1 cent per point)
  • Expected Value 1.5 cents per point


United’s MileagePlus program enables members to earn points that can be redeemed to book travel on United or any of its partner carriers. In addition, members can use miles for car rentals, shopping, magazine subscriptions, and more. What’s more, United co-branded credit cards offer automatic elite status to cardholders.

  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K

Basic members earn 5 times the fare on flights, while Premier members earn up to 11 miles per dollar spent on flights. With economy plus, discount business- or first-class, and full-fare business- or first-class tickets, members earn 150, 200, or 300 percent PQMs. Members earn 1 PQS for each leg of an economy-class flight, and 1.5 PQSs in higher fare classes. Finally, members earn 1 PQD per dollar spent on on the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges and fees.

What exactly are the points worth?

Miles vary significantly in value when redeeming for travel, depending upon the date of travel, cabin class, flight duration, departure and arrival airports. Miles can be used for Star Alliance partner flights, but only as part of a multi-leg trip booked through United. In general, miles are best redeemed for international travel (approximately 1.5 cents per mile), especially when exploring business- and first-class fares. Poorer redemption options crop up when exploring domestic flights (approximately 1 cent per mile) or non-travel redemption options. Generally, any redemption option that values points at less than 1.5 cents per dollar should be avoided. 

Redemption Examples

  • Domestic Economy
  • Domestic Business
  • International Economy
  • International Business

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