How Much Are United Miles Worth in 2021?

How Much Are United Miles Worth in 2021?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

MileagePlus members will get the most value from their miles when redeeming for long-haul international flights, flying business or first class.

The value of your United miles will depend on how you choose to redeem them. However, we estimate that a MileagePlus mile is worth 1.2 cents on average. We've also found that United MileagePlus miles are worth the most when redeemed for long-haul international flights in Business or First class.

United miles are very easy to use. In fact, we award United miles a 4.5 out 5 (Excellent) on our usability scale, rating them especially high on features like the size of United's flight network, availability of award flights and the ease of finding and booking awards.

United MileagePlus is one of the largest airline loyalty programs, and is part of a major network of airline partners with hubs all over the world, so United Miles can be well worth your while.

Recently, United switched to dynamic pricing for its award flights and eliminated its award chart. While the lack of an award chart makes the program a little less complex, United is also phasing out its highly coveted Saver fares, which may disappoint some United MileagePlus members.

Highlights:

  • Miles never expire
  • Use miles for United flights or with airline partners
  • Flies to many destinations
  • Miles have high value when redeemed for flights
  • Offers Saver award flights that cost less miles
  • Easy to use your award miles
  • Can earn miles with a number of co-branded United credit cards

United miles value: How we made our estimate

Overall, we've found that on average United miles are worth around 1.2 cents a piece.

The value of your miles is determined by the fare of a flight divided by the number of miles needed to redeem it for free. We researched a variety of domestic and international schedules during peak and off-peak times of year and compared their value for Economy versus Business/First Class seating.

To calculate the value of United miles, use this simple equation:

Cash price (minus taxes and fees) / Number of miles needed for flight = Miles value for that specific reservation

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ETo calculate the value of United miles, use this simple equation:\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--root ShortcodeAlign--center\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeAlign--container\"\u003E \n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--black\"\u003E\n Cash price (minus taxes and fees) \/ Number of miles needed for flight = Miles value for that specific reservation\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

International value

You'll get more bang for your United miles with international award fares than domestic ones. We analyzed several international flights originating in the U.S. and found the value of an international MileagePlus mile to be around 1.4 cents. Based on our averages, we would say anything over 1.2 cents per mile is a solid deal.

Overseas routes to long haul destinations like Hong Kong and Paris offer much greater value than flights from the U.S. to closer destinations, like Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.

Bottom line: You'll get the most value from your MileagePlus miles when you book long haul international flights in Business/First Class, regardless of whether you're traveling during peak or off-peak times.

Peak

Off-peak

Top intl. routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to YYZ1.20.9
LAX to SJD0.90.9
ANC to HKG1.62.4
LAX to CDG2.12.5
ATL to PUJ1.10.9
Average1.41.5

Values are cents per mile

Peak

Top intl. routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to YYZ1.20.9
LAX to SJD0.90.9
ANC to HKG1.62.4
LAX to CDG2.12.5
ATL to PUJ1.10.9
Average1.41.5

Values are cents per mile

Off-peak

Top intl. routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to YYZ1.21.0
LAX to SJD0.90.9
ANC to HKG1.12.4
LAX to CDG2.42.0
ATL to PUJ1.11.0
Average1.31.5

Values are cents per mile

Domestic value

We looked at popular domestic routes and found that the value of a domestic MileagePlus mile averages 1.1 cents.

Compared to international routes, United domestic flights typically offer lesser value for your miles. The only exceptions are long haul domestic routes — these offer significantly more value than shorter domestic flights, but still come in lower than international flight values.

Based on our sample routes, the flight schedule with the highest value is Miami (MIA) to Los Angeles (LAX), which values at about 2.0 cents per mile for Business/First Class fares.

Peak

Off-peak

Top domestic routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to LGA0.90.9
LAX to SFO0.80.9
LAX to JFK0.91.7
ORD to LAX0.90.9
MIA to LAX1.32.0
Average1.01.3

Values are cents per mile

Peak

Top domestic routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to LGA0.90.9
LAX to SFO0.80.9
LAX to JFK0.91.7
ORD to LAX0.90.9
MIA to LAX1.32.0
Average1.01.3

Values are cents per mile

Off-peak

Top domestic routes
Economy
Business/First
ORD to LGA1.21.0
LAX to SFO0.70.6
LAX to JFK0.91.7
ORD to LAX1.21.0
MIA to LAX1.30.6
Average1.11.0

Values are cents per mile

Peak vs. off-peak

Overall, using your MileagePlus miles to fly during peak times will offer slightly more value per mile than when you book during off-peak times, regardless of whether you're flying Economy or Business/First Class. On average, traveling during peak times affords you 1.3 cents per mile, while flying during off-peak times offers 1.2 cents per mile.

Peak
Off-peak
Economy1.21.2
Business1.41.2
Overall average1.31.2

Value of miles in cents

What happened to Saver awards?

Over the past several years, United has made some major changes to its MileagePlus program. Most notably, United has done away with its award chart in favor of a dynamic pricing model. And while Saver and Everyday award levels still exist, they are often not labeled on the site.

In order to locate economy Saver awards, you can activate Expert Mode through your search preferences. This will allow you to view all available fare classes offering Saver seats (fare class "X" or "XN" ).

Saver flights require much fewer miles to redeem, but are not nearly as prevalent as Everyday flights. While Everyday flights are subject to capacity controls as well, United℠ Explorer Card holders or MileagePlus Premier members can bypass all capacity controls and book an Everyday flight with miles even if it’s the last seat on the plane.

{"backgroundColor":"butter","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EWhat happened to Saver awards?\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOver the past several years, United has made some major changes to its MileagePlus program. Most notably, United has done away with its award chart in favor of a dynamic pricing model. And while Saver and Everyday award levels still exist, they are often not labeled on the site.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn order to locate economy Saver awards, you can activate \u003Cstrong\u003EExpert Mode\u003C\/strong\u003E through your search preferences. This will allow you to view all available fare classes offering Saver seats (fare class \"X\" or \"XN\" ).\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ESaver flights require much fewer miles to redeem, but are not nearly as prevalent as Everyday flights. While Everyday flights are subject to capacity controls as well, \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"United\u2120 Explorer Card Review: Great for United Loyalists\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/united-mileageplus-explorer-credit-card\"\u003EUnited℠ Explorer Card\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E holders or MileagePlus Premier members can bypass all capacity controls and book an Everyday flight with miles even if it\u2019s the last seat on the plane.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

How easy are United MileagePlus miles to use?

United MileagePlus rewards are incredibly easy to use, earning a score of 4.5 (Excellent) out of 5 based on our rating system.

To establish our valuation, we considered miles expiration, flight network, award availability and ease of booking.
Usability overall score = 4.5 out of 5 (Excellent)
Miles expiration5 out of 5
Flight network4.75 out of 5
Award availability5 out of 5
Ease of booking5 out of 5
Complexity2.5 out of 5

Miles don't expire

While some airline programs require you to keep your account active to prevent your miles from expiring, United miles never expire.

Large flight network

United has one of the largest flight networks in the world, including more than 300 destinations and over 50 countries served, around 4,800 daily departures and 35-plus partners (including its Star Alliance partners). This means you can use United miles to reach practically any destination.

Excellent award availability

You don't have to worry about blackout dates or limited award space with United MileagePlus. We surveyed a variety of routes and dates (both peak and off-peak) and found 100% award availability.

Easy to find and book awards

You also don't have to worry about navigating through a complicated interface to book an award flight. The MileagePlus site is very easy to use, and includes the following features:

  • You can toggle between price and miles on the same screen
  • You don't have to log in to your account to see award pricing
  • Few clicks are required to find out the miles required for a particular itinerary
  • You can compare prices of award flights on the same page, and there's also a handy calendar at the top of the award search that allows you to compare prices across dates

Average complexity

On the other hand, the MileagePlus program rates average in terms of complexity. The features that make the MileagePlus program favorable for deal hunters (United's large network of partners and the fact that the value of miles varies between different routes) also make it a little more complicated than straightforward programs like Rapid Rewards.

lowest

Who are United's airline partners?

United has 25 Star Alliance partners and also partners with additional non-affiliated airlines, including major names like Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines, Eurowings and more. With at least one airline partner in every major region of the world, MileagePlus members have unprecedented access to reward flights around the globe.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EWho are United's airline partners?\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EUnited has 25 Star Alliance partners and also partners with additional non-affiliated airlines, including major names like Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines, Eurowings and more. With at least one airline partner in every major region of the world, MileagePlus members have unprecedented access to reward flights around the globe.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

How does United MileagePlus compare with other airline rewards programs?

If you frequently fly United Airlines or one of its many partnering airlines, you're likely to get significant value from the United MileagePlus program. However, other airline loyalty programs may also have much to offer — including a better value per mile.

United

American Airlines

Delta

Southwest

JetBlue

Point value
Pros
Cons
1.2 cents
  • Part of Star Alliance
  • Miles never expire
  • Large portfolio of transfer partners
  • Uses dynamic pricing
  • Numerous global destinations
  • Low points value compared to other programs
  • MileagePlus program is moderately complex

United

Point value
Pros
Cons
1.2 cents
  • Part of Star Alliance
  • Miles never expire
  • Large portfolio of transfer partners
  • Uses dynamic pricing
  • Numerous global destinations
  • Low points value compared to other programs
  • MileagePlus program is moderately complex

American Airlines

Point value
Pros
Cons
1 cent
  • Part of oneworld alliance
  • Many global destinations
  • Easy to book online
  • Maximize your miles by finding sweet spots in its award chart
  • Low points value comparatively
  • Uses an award chart, which is more complicated than dynamic pricing

Read our review: American Airlines AAdvantage

Delta

Point value
Pros
Cons
1.3 cents
  • Part of SkyTeam alliance
  • Uses dynamic pricing
  • Valuable elite status perks
  • Many co-branded credit cards
  • Lower points value than other programs

Read our review: Delta Skymiles

Southwest

Point value
Pros
Cons
1.5 cents
  • No blackout dates for reward flights
  • Doesn't charge cancellation or change fees
  • Rewards tickets are fully refundable
  • Easy-to-use, straightforward program
  • Doesn't belong to an alliance or have transfer partners
  • Limited international routes
  • No first-class options
Read our review: Southwest Rapid Rewards

JetBlue

Point value
Pros
Cons
1.6 cents
  • High points value
  • Points never expire
  • No blackout dates for rewards flights
  • Doesn't fly to as many destinations as other airlines
  • Doesn't belong to any major airline alliance, but has codeshare agreements

Is the United MileagePlus program worth it?

As the United MileagePlus program allows travelers to use miles to fly nearly anywhere in the world, this program can definitely be worth it for avid travelers. Even if you only fly a few times a year, United MileagePlus is completely free to join, so you'll be earning miles on every flight you take without any additional cost to you.

If you upgrade to MileagePlus Premier status, you'll get more perks and benefits, including free checked bags, complimentary upgrades and more. Other airline rewards programs don't offer as many partner airlines, which restricts the amount of places you can travel using your points.

If you rarely fly United and would rather invest in another airline loyalty program, Delta Skymiles and American Airlines AAdvantage are some of our favorites.

Credit cards that earn United MileagePlus rewards

There are a number of co-branded United Airlines credit cards that can earn users United miles and a host of other United-related benefits. Here are some of our favorites:

Credit card
Earning rate
Annual fee
Welcome offer
United℠ Explorer Card
On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Show All Rows

United miles FAQs

How much is 1,000 United miles worth?

We value United MileagePlus miles at about 1.2 cents per mile, so 1,000 miles would be worth around $12. However, the actual value of your miles will depend on whether your flight is domestic or international, if you're flying Economy or Business/First Class and if you're flying during peak or off-peak travel dates.

How much is 60,000 United miles worth?

We value United MileagePlus miles at about 1.2 cents per mile, so 60,000 miles would be worth around $720. This amount can vary depending on the particular flight you're redeeming your miles for.

How much is 20,000 United miles worth?

We value United MileagePlus miles at about 1.2 cents per mile, so 20,000 miles would be worth around $240. This value can fluctuate based on factors specific to your flight.

How much is 40,000 United miles worth?

We value United MileagePlus miles at about 1.2 cents per mile, so 40,000 miles would be worth around $480. This value can change depending on your particular flight.

Do United miles expire?

No, United miles don't expire.

How to value United miles?

To decide how much United miles are worth to you, find the price for your target redemption option and divide it by the number of miles required. Be sure to subtract any taxes and fees that you still have to pay from the price of the award.

How to use my United MileagePlus miles?

You can use your United MileagePlus miles in a number of different ways. Redemption options include gift cards, shopping, travel, experiences and more. That said, you'll get the most value from your United miles when you redeem them for flights. Simply go online and select the "Book with miles" option to redeem your miles for a flight.

What are the benefits of United MileagePlus?

As a United MileagePlus member, you have access to the Star Alliance group of partner airlines, along with other global airlines United partners with. This allows you to use your United miles to fly nearly anywhere in the world. For more perks and benefits, you can upgrade your MileagePlus membership to Premier status.

How many MileagePlus miles for a free flight?

You need 12,500 MileagePlus miles for a free flight in Economy seating.

Is United MileagePlus free?

It is completely free to sign up for the United MileagePlus program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).