How to pay your United credit card's annual fee with miles
Did you know that you can pay the annual fee on your United credit card using your airline miles? It's called "Pay Yourself Back" — but I'm not talking about using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Pay Yourself Back program. Instead, you can pay your card's annual fee with regular United Airlines MileagePlus miles.
If you weren't aware of this feature or the details surrounding it, don't feel bad. The website that houses this information is not widely publicized, and it also doesn't have much in the way of details.
Today, I'll walk you through how to pay your United credit card's annual fee using United miles.
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Cards eligible for this feature
United offers multiple cobranded credit cards, including the following:
- United Business Card.
- United Club Business Card.
- United Club Card.
- United Club Infinite Card.
- United Explorer Card.
- United Quest℠ Card.
The information for the United Club Card and United Club Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Any United card with an annual fee is eligible to participate in this offer — including ones that are no longer available to new applicants.
Related: No saver space, no problem: How to unlock additional award availability with United
How to pay your card's annual fee with United Airlines miles
There is a website outlining this option: choices.unitedmileageplus.com. It mentions that you can use miles to pay off your annual fee, but unfortunately, it says you must call the number on the back of your card to start the process.
Moreover, the terms at the bottom of the page have a few important points you should note:
- This feature is only available after the prior payment of your annual fee within the last 90 days, meaning you will need to pay the fee first and then use United miles as a reimbursement after the fact.
- Redemption values aren't published and can change at any time. Right now, the value is 1.5 cents per mile (more on that below).
- The statement credit will appear on your account within three business days, and you'll see the reimbursement and use of miles on your billing statement within one or two billing cycles.
- Reimbursement of your annual fee using miles does not count as a payment to satisfy your minimum payment due that month, so ensure any minimum payments are still met.
Thus, in order to get started, you will need to call the number on the back of your United credit card. In addition, you must be within 90 days of when the annual fee posted to your account. Finally, you'll need to pay that fee first and then request to use your United miles as a reimbursement.
What it costs
How much does it cost? Or, to rephrase this question, how many miles will you need?
Since you will pay the annual fee and seek reimbursement with your miles, let's look at the cost in terms of how many United miles you'll ultimately use to reimburse yourself after paying the annual fee on your United credit card.
While the MileagePlus Choices page states "Redemption values may be changed at any time," we've seen no change in the redemption rate for over a year now. You can use your United miles at 1.5 cents apiece against your card's annual fee.
TPG values United miles at 1.21 cents each. Thus, this redemption is above the average value for United miles. On the face of it, that looks like a pretty good deal.
That said, if you're someone who routinely redeems your miles for first- and business-class awards, you are likely getting more than 1.5 cents each in value from your United miles. In this situation, you might be hesitant to use your miles in this way.
Overall, though, this is a fair use of United miles when considering all of your redemption options, but it will be up to you to decide whether it works for you.
Here is how many miles you can expect to pay, based on your card's annual fee:
- United Business Card ($0 introductory annual fee, then $99): 6,600 miles.
- United Club Business Card ($450 annual fee): 30,000 miles.
- United Club Card ($450 annual fee): 30,000 miles.
- United Club Infinite Card ($525 annual fee): 35,000 miles.
- United Explorer Card ($0 introductory annual fee, then $95): 6,333 miles.
- United Quest℠ Card ($250 annual fee): 16,666 miles.
Using United miles to offset your credit card's annual fee is an interesting option. Not everyone will find value in it, depending on how you prefer to use your miles, what value you assign to them or even how many are in your account right now. And since there's not much information online about this option, you may have never even considered it.
That said, I am a big fan of options, especially when you get get decent value from a redemption.
If you're interested in using your United miles to reimburse your card's annual fee, call the number on the back of your card to get started — but be sure to crunch the numbers to make sure it makes sense for you.