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How the United MileagePlus X App Can Help You Work Toward Your Next Award Trip

Sept. 05, 2016
6 min read
How the United MileagePlus X App Can Help You Work Toward Your Next Award Trip
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Since its release in 2014, the MileagePlus X App has offered a valuable way to earn bonus United miles on purchases from a variety of local and online vendors. Working in a similar fashion to an online shopping portal, the app allows users to buy electronic gift cards to pay for various purchases from merchants, and in return users are rewarded between 1 and 5 United miles per dollar spent in the app. Furthermore, if you also have a co-branded United card from Chase, such as the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you can receive a 25% bonus on top of the miles you'd normally earn through the app, even if you pay with a different card.

While you can use MileagePlus X to simply pad your account balance, I was able to fund a round-trip ticket to Hawaii by making many of my everyday purchases through the app for a year. Here's how I did it:

1. The Daily Grind

My morning coffee purchases added up to several thousand miles per year. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Like many people needing a morning pick-me-up, I purchase coffee from Starbucks every day during the work week. As my coffee costs approximately $5 per day, this adds up to $1,200 per year. As MileagePlus X offers 2 miles per dollar spent on Starbucks gift cards, I received 2,400 bonus miles from the app along with a 25% bonus for using my United MileagePlus Explorer Card, which equaled 3,000 bonus miles. As I also received miles from my card at a rate of 1 mile per dollar spent, I was able to effectively double-dip, getting another 1,200 miles for a total of 4,200 miles.

Note that if you have the new Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you should be able to simplify this process a bit by making your purchases directly at Starbucks with the Reserve card, earning you 3 points per dollar (which can be transferred 1:1 to United) without needing to use MileagePlus X — you won't get the 25% app bonus, but it'll save you a bit of time.

2. Pet Care

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I used the MileagePlus X app to purchase Petco gift cards. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

My two dogs, Bayou and Maggie, are the loves of my life, but they can also be pretty expensive. In adding up the costs of food, flea medicine and toys alone, I discovered my dogs cost approximately $1,020 per year. Luckily, through the MileagePlus X app, I can make these purchases using Petco gift cards for a return of 5 miles per dollar spent. With the 25% bonus, this adds up to 6,375 bonus miles on top of the 1,020 miles from my card for a total of 7,395 miles.

3. Car Maintenance

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Make the most of routine oil changes by earning miles for the expense. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Getting a quarterly oil change is an expensive and tedious chore, but it can be quite lucrative in the points and miles world. The average cost of an oil change for my car is $50, for a total of $200 per year. With Mileage Plus X, I purchase Jiffy Lube gift cards at a return of 5 miles per dollar spent plus the 25% bonus for a total of 1,250 bonus miles. Add on the 200 miles from my purchase with my United MileagePlus Explorer Card, and my oil changes net me 1,450 miles per year.

4. Movie Nights

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You can even maximize movie dates with the MileagePlus X app. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

As a movie buff, I usually go to the movies twice a month with my fiancée for date nights. As each movie costs approximately $20 to attend, this adds up to $480 per year. The app allows you to purchase both AMC Cinema and Regal Cinema gift cards for 5 miles per dollar plus the 25% bonus, so this adds up to 3,000 bonus miles per year on top of the 480 miles from my card for a total of 3,480 miles.

5. Wining and Dining

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I earned more than 30,000 miles on food and drink purchases through the app. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

One of my favorite online vendors through the MileagePlus X app is Wine Enthusiast, which allows me to order sampler wine packages that include six bottles of various award-winning wines for $125. Through the course of a year, my fiancée and I usually order four of these packages, which total $500. The MileagePlus X app allowed to me make these purchases at a rate of 5 miles per dollar for a total of 3,125 bonus miles (with the 25% bonus) on top of the 500 miles from my United MileagePlus Explorer Card for a total of 3,625 miles.

Finally, the MileagePlus X app offers a wide variety of restaurant gift cards that get you between 4 and 5 miles per dollar spent. Between work lunches and dining out with friends and family, I spent approximately $4,500 last year at restaurants offered in the MileagePlus X app (an average of only $12 per day) for a total of 28,125 miles (with the 25% bonus). Add on the 4,500 miles earned through the "double dip" with my card, and my dining earned me a total of 32,625 miles.


The MileagePlus X App could be your quick ticket to the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

If I add all the United miles earned in the above categories, my total comes to 52,775 miles in one year. With this stash of rewards, I can book a round-trip Saver award on United from the US to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, Northern South America or even Hawaii! Who knew that the mundane tasks of buying dog food and getting oil changes could eventually lead me to the warm and welcoming sands of Waikiki?

How do you plan on using your earned miles through the MileagePlus X App?