How To Earn United Airlines Miles

See how you can earn award miles with United and learn about a few ways that you can earn enough to cover your next flight.

Have you thought about trying to earn airline miles, but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you have some award miles and are wondering how to get enough of them to cover a flight? The process of earning and then redeeming airline miles to book flights can be all too confusing and frustrating. Today we are breaking down the process of earning miles with United Airlines. Continue reading to see how you can earn award miles with United and learn about a few ways that you can earn enough to cover your next flight.

This post is mainly for those who are interested in learning how to earn miles with United. If you are wanting information on how to redeem miles you already have, stay tuned! We will have another post up very soon that discusses redeeming United Miles. You can click here to view United’s Interactive travel destinations awards chart.

Step 1: Get a MileagePlus Account Number

To start, you are going to need a MileagePlus account number, you can get this from signing up on the United Airlines website here.

United Home Banner

Shown above is a picture of United Airlines’ home page, to get your account number, you will need to click the yellow box, fill out the form and join the program (Alternatively, you can click here to go straight to the enrollment page)

After you have completed the form, United will send you an email with your MileagePlus Account number, like the one shown below:

United Mileage Plus Number Email

Step 2: Earn Miles

The two primary ways that you can earn miles are through flying and credit card use with a participating program. You can also earn miles with hotels and rental cars that participate in the United Mileage Plus program.


You will earn miles when you use your MileagePlus Account Number to book United Airlines flights.

Example: I have gone through and “booked” a trip to Cuzco, Peru from Houston to determine the number of miles that I can receive from an economy class ticket.

Shown below first is the cost in dollars to book the trip and second the award mileage received:

Sample United Flight cost in USD
Sample United Airlines Flight Award Miles Earned

Here I got 3,750 award miles for a $900 flight.  With the cheapest round-trip United offers being 20,000 points, you would need to spend nearly $4,800 on United flights to get a free domestic round trip that is less than 700 miles. Not a great return here!

 Credit Cards:

Another easy way to get United award miles is through the use of credit cards. There are several credit card options that earn United Miles. I’ve listed 2 that I have found success with below. Just make sure to enter your MileagePlus Account Number when applying for a card. If you aren’t comfortable with credit cards or don’t know where to get started please read our post on them here.

Example 1: United Mileage Plus Explorer Card

Right now (2/9/18) United Airlines is offering 50,000 United miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, you can also get 5,000 more if you add an authorized user and they purchase one item with their card.  (Click here for offer)

Getting to the minimum spending requirement, and adding an authorized user will give you at least 58,000 miles for a much better reward than purely through flying.  Lauren and I were able to use this award to take us both on our first Europe vacation!  Each flight individually cost us ~$100 after all fees.

See how you can earn award miles with United and learn about a few ways that you can earn enough to cover your next flight.
Visiting Venice, my first trip booked completely with United Miles.

Example 2: Chase Sapphire

The Sapphire cards should be mentioned here as well (Preferred, Reserve, and others). Chase has credit cards that give Ultimate rewards points that can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to United Airlines.

Currently, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is giving 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months as well as 5,000 Ultimate Reward Points for adding an authorized user, similar to the MileagePlus Explorer Card above. These two credit cards (and others if wanted) can be combined to truly experience luxury travel. We will be putting this theory to the test in 2019 when Lauren and I will try to use these two cards together to book a round trip to Europe with one way in first class. A one-way first class ticket to Europe for us is 110,000 points, but through just these two cards we can earn 117,000 bonus miles. The card offer is shown here and an example flight is shown below:

What Can I Do Now?

Now that you know how to earn United Miles you can use them to fly all over!  United serves over 300 destinations and using these tips you should be able to visit any of them. A follow-on post about redeeming United miles is coming soon, however, an easy place to check costs to fly to various destinations is United’s interactive award chart. Hopefully, this post has shed light on some ways to earn miles with United Airlines, as always if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us at