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Increasingly generous travel rewards credit card offers have made it easier to earn points and airline miles. But at the same time, it’s become even more challenging to find award seats at the lowest mileage levels. Today, I want to examine a unique feature of United’s MileagePlus credit cards that allow you to unlock hidden Saver and Everyday awards, so that you can find the flights you need for your next trip.
Finding Award Space
I find that United tends to offer more Saver award space — award seats at the lowest mileage levels — than most other frequent flyer programs. But that’s not saying much these days, when most airlines give out plenty of miles to travelers and those who use cobranded airline credit cards, but offer vanishingly few seats at the lowest mileage levels. And United is often no different.
Thankfully, United’s MileagePlus program has three things going for it. First, it has one of the best online award search engines, along with its redesigned mobile app. United generally shows every partner’s award space, but not always.
Secondly, it’s one of the only frequent flyer programs that never imposes fuel surcharges on awards, allowing you to book award seats on any partner carrier and only pay government-imposed taxes and fees.
The United Explorer Card, the United Explorer Business Card and the United MileagePlus Club Card (as well as its business version) offer the ability to “use miles for any seat, any time, on any United flight” at the Everyday award level — higher than the Saver level, but the perk here is that you can use miles on any flight with availability.
United also offers all MileagePlus card holders better award availability for United awards in economy, including both Saver and Everyday awards. This is the same benefit it offers to its MileagePlus members with elite status, and it’s the primary reason why I’ll always have an active MileagePlus credit card account.
Chase highlights expanded standard (“Everyday”) award availability as a card holder benefit, but it’s silent on the increased Saver award availability that card holders can expect. However, United’s website makes sure to let you know.
An Example of Increased Saver Award Availability
Let’s look for six award seats from Denver to Washington Dulles. Without logging in, the seats are 20,000 miles each.
But once I log in as a United MileagePlus card holder, I see the same flights, but at the Saver level of 12,500 miles.
How Expanded Saver Ability Works
Once you’re logged in and have Expert Mode enabled, you can then reveal the fare codes, but only when searching for revenue fares (not awards).
Know before you go.
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- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Earn 2 miles per $1 at restaurants, gas stations and office supply stores
- Earn 2 miles per $1 on United purchases and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Free checked bag - save up to $120 per roundtrip (terms apply)
- Two one-time United Club℠ passes each year — more than a $100 value
- Priority boarding for you and companions on the same reservation on United-operated flights
- Employee cards at no additional cost