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How to pay your United credit card's annual fee with miles

May 14, 2022
6 min read
United aircraft
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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

(Photo by Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock)

United offers multiple cobranded credit cards, including the following:

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

(Screenshot courtesy of choices.unitedmileageplus.com)

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

(Photo by Tetra Images/Getty Images)

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:

Bottom line

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.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases