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If you’ve been dreaming of a vacation, racking up travel rewards can make a lot of sense to help get you there while spending less. Particularly, if you’re planning to travel by air, airline miles can be used to pay for domestic or international airfare, which can free up your vacation funds for other aspects of your trip — and United MileagePlus miles can be especially useful here.
The current credit card bonus offers with United Airlines are a good place to start earning miles. The United MileagePlus program is also part of the Star Alliance along with more than two dozen airlines around the world, which opens the door to flight awards to almost any destination. In other words, you can use United miles to fly with United and partners such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and more.
It’s also worth mentioning that United MileagePlus is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards — in other words, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points can become United MileagePlus miles at a 1-to-1 ratio. So, it’s incredibly easy to get the United miles you need for a trip you want to take, whether you earn the miles with United cards directly or transfer them from an eligible Chase credit card.
At the moment, there are six United-branded credit cards available to new applicants — four cards for consumers and two business credit cards. These cards can earn you up to 80,000 United miles within a few months of account opening provided you can meet a minimum spending requirement.
Here’s an overview of the United Airlines credit cards that are available for new sign-ups.
- United℠ Explorer Card: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- United Quest℠ Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles plus 500 Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) after spending $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- United Gateway℠ Card: Earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- United Club℠ Infinite Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- United℠ Business Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
- United Club Business Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.
With up to 80,000 bonus miles in your United MileagePlus account from these credit card offers, you can use them to take you on adventures across the globe. And, as an added bonus of holding a United-branded credit card, the airline opens up expanded award availability to United credit card holders (excluding the United Gateway Card) and to those with Premier elite status, meaning you could find additional options for redeeming your miles just for holding on to one of these cards. Here are seven great ways to redeem 80,000 United MileagePlus miles for nearly free travel.
Like many other airline loyalty programs in the US, the United MileagePlus program uses dynamic pricing for its awards. This means free flights can fall within a range of redemption costs, depending on demand and other factors. It also means you can get a better deal for your miles if you’re flexible on where you travel and when. Ultimately, you’ll get the best deals with your miles if you’re flexible with your travel plans.
With that in mind, it’s not difficult to find award availability to Europe from many US cities from 30,000 miles one way or 60,000 miles round trip, plus taxes and fees.
To find these flights, you’ll need to search for award availability on United’s website. For example, you can travel from Chicago (ORD) to Rome, Italy (FCO) for 30,000 miles, plus $23 in taxes and fees for a one-way flight in April.
Looking to spend some time in the City of Light? You can fly from Dallas (DFW) to Paris, France (CDG) for 30,000 miles, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees one way in April.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to travel in periods of high demand — think summer travel and around the December holiday season — you’ll have a harder time finding award flights for 30,000 miles one way. However, it is possible with some searching and flexibility in the dates and destinations you’re looking to travel.
With 80,000 United miles in your MileagePlus account from the United Club Infinite Card, you could fly yourself from the US to Europe on a round-trip ticket and just pay the taxes and fees out of pocket.
United Airlines offers a premium business-class product known as Polaris. In Polaris, travelers benefit from roomy lie-flat seats, Saks Fifth Avenue luxury bedding, elevated food and beverage service and access to the United Polaris Lounge in some airports.
You can redeem miles for a United Polaris business-class ticket on a range of long-haul itineraries within the United States, between the mainland US and Hawaii and on trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic and long-haul flights to South America.
For example, you can fly nonstop from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR) in United Polaris for 60,000 miles, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. If you earn the 80,000 bonus miles from the sign-up bonus on the United Club Infinite Card, you’ll have enough miles in your account to redeem for a one-way award itinerary from the West Coast to London in Polaris. Earn just 40,000 more miles and you’ll score yourself a round-trip ticket. Or, the 80,000 miles earned is almost enough for you to treat yourself in business class one-way and an economy ticket on the return.
Another great option for using your United miles for a flight in United Polaris is flying from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (HND). You can fly one way on this route for 70,000 miles and $5.60 in taxes and fees — a great deal for a lie-flat seat on a flight that totals more than 13 hours in the air. From a single sign-up bonus, such as that from the United Quest Card or United Club Infinite Card, you could find yourself traveling to Japan in business class for just $5.60 out of pocket.
You can also use United miles to find sweet flight deals within the US — as few as 3,000 miles one way — but you may need to do some digging and price shopping before you book. After all, the cost of an award can vary by location and the date of travel. Fortunately, the United MileagePlus program offers a handy search calendar that allows you to easily compare the cheapest award price across every date of the month at once.
For example, you could fly from New York (LGA) to Chicago (ORD) from 9,100 miles one way, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees during many dates throughout the early summer.
Alternatively, you could plan a warm weather escape from Newark (EWR) to Miami (MIA) from 8,200 miles, plus $5.60 in taxes and fees one way. With 60,000 miles in your United account from the United Quest Card, you’d have enough miles to fly a family of three between New York and Miami for just the cost of the taxes and fees out of pocket.
Because Lufthansa is a Star Alliance partner, you can use your United miles to book a First Class award in the airline’s most celebrated cabin. In fact, Lufthansa offers one of the best first-class products in the world, and it’s obtainable to book for a fraction of the price, thanks to travel rewards.
If you’re interested in using your United MileagePlus miles for a seat in Lufthansa’s first-class cabin, note that award space can be extremely limited. In fact, Lufthansa typically does not release first-class award space to United until around 15 days out from departure. So, if you’re flexible with your travel plans and willing to book a relatively last-minute trip, this could be a great option.
You can find Lufthansa first-class awards booked via United for as few as 121,000 miles, plus taxes and fees. If you’re able to find availability, this is truly an excellent deal if you want to fly on a long-haul international route in style.
If you want to get away somewhere sunny and warm, your United miles can help get you there. In fact, using United miles to fly to a range of destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico can help you get outsized value for your rewards.
Award prices to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico vary depending on your departure city, where exactly you want to travel and the dates you hope to fly. However, there are plenty of good deals to be had if you’re flexible and willing to shop around.
For example, you could fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (SJD) for as few as 6,400 miles, plus $38.32 in taxes and fees one way. With 60,000 miles in your United account from earning the sign-up bonus on the United Quest Card, you could fly you and four additional friends or family round trip on this route — provided there’s award availability for all of you on the same flight — and just pay the taxes and fees.
Alternatively, you could fly from Newark (EWR) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) from 19,300 miles, plus $46.90 in taxes and fees on a number of dates in May and into June 2023.
If you’ve been dreaming of a bucket list getaway to South Pacific islands like Bora Bora, the first step of your journey will likely involve a flight to Tahiti. From there, you can board a plane (or a ferry, in some cases) to a range of destinations like Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tūpai or Teti’aroa, among others.
If you have United miles, you’ll be happy to know you can use them to pay for your initial far-flung journey — and you can even fly direct from the US. That’s because United Airlines flies nonstop on the nearly nine-hour flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Papeete, Tahiti (PPT).
Award prices on this route vary widely, so you’ll want to shop around for availability and costs by date. However, you can find award flights from 35,000 miles one way in economy or 70,000 miles one way in Polaris business class, plus $5.60 in airline taxes and fees.
In other words, for 70,000 miles you could fly round trip between San Francisco and Tahiti in economy on the trip of a lifetime. The 80,000 miles on offer with the United Club Infinite Card will get you there.
You can easily use United miles to fly to a range of destinations in South America, including Ecuador, Brazil and Peru, among others. Flights can even be downright cheap in economy, although you’ll want to make sure you compare travel dates to get the best deal.
For example, you could fly nonstop in economy from Houston (IAH) to Quito, Ecuador (UIO) from just 20,000 miles and $15.60 in taxes and fees.
You could also fly nonstop in economy from Houston (IAH) to Lima, Peru (LIM) from just 20,000 miles, plus $20.60 in taxes and fees.
Just as easily, you could pay as few as 20,000 miles, plus $20.60 in taxes and fees to fly in economy from Houston (IAH) to Bogata, Colombia (BOG).
Alternatively, you could fly in economy from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (SDU) from just 33,000 miles, plus $11.20 in taxes and fees.
Overall, United miles can allow you to travel around the globe while saving some cash. From French Polynesia to Europe and even short-haul hops around the country, there are plenty of ways to use 80,000 United MileagePlus miles. And, even better, thanks to the United credit cards on offer, there are plenty of ways to earn United miles quickly.
Looking for a new travel credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards currently available.