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8 Cool Ways to Spend United Miles Now Without Leaving the Ground

May 23, 2019
5 min read
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Often, maximizing your United miles means flying in a fancy seat or building in free stopovers, but sometimes you can get big value from your airline miles without leaving the ground.

Via the United Exclusives program, you can redeem MileagePlus miles for experiences that range from cocktails o pieces of a plane to batting practice at a Major League Baseball stadium and beyond. The available selections in the program vary dramatically, but right now there is a pretty fun assortment of activities available for reasonable numbers of miles. (Note that some of the events require a United credit card or United elite status.)

Related: Best Credit Cards for Flying United

Here are eight cool events you can redeem your United miles for without leaving the ground.

1. Early Screening of 'Spider-Man: Far From Home': 4,000 Miles

Get two tickets to advance screenings of the summer's new Spider-Man movie available on a variety of dates in Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, New York and Denver for just 4,000 United miles per pair. Tickets also include popcorn and soda.

2. Enjoy SFO Polaris Lounge and Support Women Artists: 5,000 Miles

June 3, San Francisco

United recently announced the winners of Her Art Here, a contest where female artists were able to design special liveries for two United 757 planes. At this event, you can meet the winners, see their artwork, explore the Polaris lounge and enjoy an open bar and hors d’oeuvres.

courtesy of United Airlines

3. Drag Queen Brunch in Chicago: 2,500 Miles

June 23, Chicago

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In celebration of Pride month, enjoy a drag queen brunch at The River Kitchen with endless mimosas, Bloody Marys, cocktails and of course brunch entrees while taking in entertainment from Elektra Del Rio, Veronica Pop, Kim Passable and more. (There's a goodie bag, too!)

4. Bourbon and Bites in Houston or DC: 5,000 Miles

Cash in 5k United miles to enjoy a bourbon tasting with local bourbon experts while snacking on "small bites that complement the bourbon." Events are held in Washington, DC (Aug. 7), and Houston (July 10), but this event is restricted to United credit card holders such as those with the United Explorer Card..

5. Charity Cocktail Hour in Houston: 1,000 Miles

June 5, Houston

Those with United elite status can redeem just 1,000 miles for a private cocktail reception at 51fifteen Cocktails & Cuisine with United leadership and fellow United travelers. In addition to the drinks and conversations, there will be passed hors d'oeuvres, and the miles donated to attend the event will support veterans and patients in need with flights to receive medical treatment.

6. Batting Practice in Chicago: 2,500 Miles

June 21, Chicago

Another United elites-only event this summer is set for the Chicago White Sox's stadium, where MileagePlus members can enjoy batting practice, throwing, field drills and a catered dinner. A White Sox alumnus will also make an appearance at the event.

7. Family Movie Night, Bidding at 10,000 Miles

June 21, New York City

This is the only auction item on my list, as it is hard to know just how pricey those events will get. However, this one looks like it will cost a reasonable number of miles. The event includes one VIP couch for up to six people at the outdoor screening of Coco on Pier 45 at Hudson River Park. This event is part of World Pride celebration. If you are OK just sitting on the ground, you can actually attend for free.

8. Watch the Rolling Stones From a Luxury Box: 25,000 Miles

June 25, Chicago

If you want to enjoy the Rolling Stones tour from a VIP box, you can cash in 25,000 United miles and wear your concert tee to Solider Field in Chicago. For that price, you'll get admission to the box along with parking, food and drinks.

Bottom Line

Most of the time you get the biggest bang for your miles by redeeming them for travel, but there are exceptions to every rule. If some of these events sound fun, we recommend redeeming quickly as events can and do sell out. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United to have enough miles to buy what you like if your MileagePlus balance is coming up short.

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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  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
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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

6%6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
6%6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
3%3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
3%3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
1%1% Cash Back on other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.

    $250
  • Annual Fee

    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $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

If you like cash back and spend a lot on groceries at U.S. supermarkets, you can’t get much better than the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. This card offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Check out our latest guides, news, and reviews for this card below.

Pros

  • This card has one of the best earning structures out there for cash-back credit cards.
  • The card does come with access to Amex Offers (enrollment required), which can save you even more money on specific purchases.

Cons

  • There is a $6,000 spending cap on the U.S. supermarket bonus category, which may not work for those with large grocery budgets.
  • You’ll have to pay a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, so it’s not a great choice when you’re traveling abroad.
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: Enjoy $0 intro plan fees when you use Plan It® to split up large purchases into monthly installments. Pay $0 intro plan fees on plans created during the first 12 months after account opening. Plans created after that will have a monthly plan fee up to 1.33% of each eligible purchase amount moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 17.74% to 28.74%
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Thinking about getting The Disney Bundle which includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+? Your decision made easy with $7/month back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $13.99 or more each month on an eligible subscription with your Blue Cash Preferred Card. Enrollment required.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees