Your ultimate guide to United Airlines partners
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At TPG, our top priority is providing our readers with the information you need to make educated decisions about travel and your rewards-earnings strategy. This is not the best time to travel, domestically or internationally, as airlines have cut major parts of their route network. But we are sharing this information because it is a great offer that could provide value to cardholders for future travel once coronavirus concerns have subsided.
Many of the world’s major airlines have partnerships with other airlines, hotel groups and rental car companies. These partnerships open up more flight destinations and give loyalty program members more ways to earn and redeem their airline miles. Some of these include cobranded credit cards, credit card transfer partners and partnerships with other airlines.
Chances are, your airline of choice may have more partners than you think. In the case of United Airlines, you can earn and redeem your MileagePlus miles on a number of different airlines and transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, the airline has special partnerships with Marriott Bonvoy and Hertz, which offer increased mileage earning.
You should be aware of these partnerships if you’re a United loyalist, so in this article, I’ll give you an overview of all of United’s financial, airline and travel partners. Review these partners closely — you never know where you might be leaving points on the table.
United’s Star Alliance airline partners
United is a founding member of Star Alliance, the largest airline alliance in the world. United frequent flyers can earn and redeem miles on all of these partners, opening them up to a huge route network that spans all inhabited continents and nearly all major cities across the globe.
Here’s a list of all of United’s Star Alliance partners:
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Swiss Air Liens
- TAP Portugal
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
United’s non-alliance airline partners
United also maintains a handful of non-alliance partnerships with various airlines. These partnerships let United customers gain access to even more cities around the world. In most cases, you can earn and redeem miles with these partners, though some may have restrictions.
For example, you can only earn and redeem United miles on intra-island Hawaiian Airlines flights. Flights from the mainland U.S. are not eligible to earn United miles and cannot be booked with United miles.
Here’s a look at all of United’s non-alliance airline partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Dolomiti (Star Alliance affiliate)
- Boutique Air
- Cape Air
- Eurowings (Star Alliance affiliate)
- Hawaiian Airlines (inter-island flights)
- Juneyao Air (Star Alliance connecting partner)
- Olympic Air
- Silver Airways
Earning United miles with partners
From airlines to car rental companies, United has a ton of different partners that you can earn and redeem miles with.
Here’s a quick overview of how you can earn miles with all of these partners. I’ll start with how to earn on partner airlines, and then dive into other travel and non-travel partners.
Earning miles with United airline partners
You can earn United miles when you add your MileagePlus number to flights operated by any one of United’s various partners. You’ll earn miles based on how much you spend if your ticket is issued by United (booked through United.com) and distance flown if your flight is ticketed by a partner.
In most cases, partner-ticketed tickets are booked through the partner airline’s website or an Online Travel Agency (OTA).
The number of miles you’ll earn on partner tickets depends on the airline you’re flying, the fare class you’re booked in and your United Premier status level. For example, a Lufthansa flight from New York-JFK to Frankfurt (FRA) booked in N fare premium economy would earn 3,856 miles as N fares earn 100% mileage flown.
Each United Premier status level gets its own mileage bonus on partner flights. Silver, Gold, Platinum and 1K elites earn 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% bonus miles on partner tickets respectively. So if you’re a Premier 1K member, you’d earn 7,712 United miles on the JFK-FRA ticket mentioned earlier.
You can view the earning rates for all of United’s airline partners on United’s website. Make sure to review these pages closely — sometimes, airlines restrict mileage earning to specific routes and fare classes.
United has partnerships with most major hotel chains. Some of them earn a set number of United miles per stay while others earn miles based on how much you spend at a given hotel. Additionally, many hotel loyalty programs let you transfer your hotel points to United, though that usually isn’t the best use of points.
Here’s a high-level look at all of United’s hotel partnerships.
|Accor||Transfer Accor Live Limitless points to United miles at a 2:1 ratio.|
|Choice||Earn 250 total miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.|
|Hilton||Transfer Hilton Honors points to United at a 10:1 ratio.|
|Hyatt||Earn 500 United miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.
Convert World of Hyatt points into miles at a 2.5:1 ratio. Plus, receive a 5,000-mile bonus when you convert 50,000 points into 20,000 miles.
|InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG)||Earn 2 United miles per dollar at IHG properties in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean and at all Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express hotels worldwide.
Earn 1 United mile per dollar at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
Earn 500 United miles per qualifying stay at IHG properties outside of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean and at all InterContinental Alliance Resorts worldwide.
|Marriott||Earn 2 miles per dollar you spend on all qualifying charges at JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, EDITION, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Marriott Vacation Club, Delta Hotels by Marriott, Le Meridien, Westin, Autograph Collection Hotels, Design Hotels TM, Renaissance Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Gaylord Hotels.
Earn 1 mile per dollar you spend on room rate only at Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Aloft Hotels, Moxy Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element by Westin.
Additionally, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to United miles at a 3:1.1 ratio. You’ll also earn a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to an airline.
|Radisson||Transfer Raddison Rewards points to United miles at a 10:1 ratio.|
|Shangri-La||Earn 500 United miles per eligible stay at any participating hotel.|
|Wyndham||Wyndham Gold and Blue members earn $1 United per dollar; Wyndham Platinum and Diamond members earn 2 miles per $1 spent.|
Hotel booking websites:
|United Hotels||2 United miles per dollar spent|
|Rocketmiles||1,000 to 10,000 miles per night|
|PointsHound||Up to 10,000 miles per night|
Rental car partners
Rental cars are an important part of many trips, especially if you plan on traveling outside of big cities. You can earn United miles with three major rental car companies — here’s a look.
|Dollar Rent A Car||Earn 50 United miles per day on all qualifying one to four-day rentals. Rentals of five days or longer earn 500 United miles per rental.|
|Hertz||MileagePlus members earn 500 United miles on every Hertz rental.
MileagePlus cobrand credit cardholders earn 750 United miles on every Hertz rental.
Premier Silver and Premier Gold members earn 1,000 United miles on every Hertz rental.
Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members earn 1,250 United miles on every Hertz rental.
Convert Hertz Gold Rewards points to United miles at a 600:500 ratio.
|Thrifty Car Rental||Earn 50 United miles per day on all qualifying one to four-day rentals. Rentals of five days or longer earn 500 United miles per rental.|
Earning United miles with cobranded credit cards
United Airlines has an exclusive partnership with Chase to issue cobranded credit cards in the U.S. Each of these cards offer a variety of different perks, points earning rates and welcome bonuses, so you can earn United miles on all your everyday purchases.
United personal credit cards:
- United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
- United Gateway Card: Earn 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
United currently offers three personal credit cards with Chase, with the United Explorer Card being the most popular. This card has a relatively low annual fee of $95 per year and earns 2x miles on hotels, restaurants and United Airlines purchases. It also includes two, one-time United Club passes per year, a free checked bag and priority boarding on United flights and has a solid welcome bonus of 40,000 United miles after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months after account opening. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
More frequent United flyers may opt for the higher-end United Club Infinite Card. This card has a higher $525 annual fee, but includes a full United Club membership and Premier Access on all United flights. Even better, you’ll earn 4x miles per dollar spent on United purchases, 2x on travel and dining and 1x everywhere else.
The United Gateway card, on the other hand, earns 2x miles on United Airlines, gas station and local transportation purchases (tolls, taxis, public transit, etc) and 1x miles everywhere else. The card has no annual fee, so it can be a good option for infrequent travelers.
United also has a business credit card. The United Business Card lets you earn United miles on all your business spending, making it a great option for business owners who are also United loyalists. This card earns 2x miles on United purchases and purchases made at restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores and local transit operators.
Related: Best business credit cards of 2021
Transferring miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards
One of our favorite ways to earn United miles is through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This is Chase’s in-house transferrable points currency, and you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points are equal to 10,000 United miles.
In many cases, earning United miles through Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards is more lucrative than spending on one of the United cards we mentioned earlier. While you don’t get the airline-specific benefits like checked bags, you can earn more miles on everyday purchases.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining purchases — this includes things like Uber rides, subway fare and tickets booked with other airlines. In addition, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to other airlines if you find a better mileage deal.
Chase has a suite of different Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards — here’s a look at our favorites:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening. The card also lets you earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. The card also lets you earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases and includes various travel benefits like a $300 travel credit and a Priority Pass Select membership.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. The card also lets you earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on select business purchases (up to $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year).
Shopping and everyday partners
United has a suite of other mileage earning partners that you can use to earn United miles on your daily purchases. Here’s a quick overview of United’s various everyday partners:
|Carmel||Earn 50 United miles and 2 miles per dollar spent on rides within New York City and 100 United miles and 2 miles per dollar spent for rides outside of New York City.|
|FTD||Earn 30 United miles per dollar spent on flowers and gifts.|
|LifeLock||Earn up to 13,000 United miles with a new LifeLock subscription.|
|Mercedes-Benz||Earn up to 35,000 United miles when you purchase or lease select Mercedes-Benz models.|
|United Cruises||Earn up to 45,000 United miles per cruise booked through United Cruises.|
|MileagePlus Dining||Earn up to 5 United miles per dollar spent at participating restaurants.|
|MileagePlus Shopping||Earn United miles when shopping at qualifying merchants like Apple, Macy’s, Levis and more.|
|MileagePlus X||Earn United miles when you purchase gift cards through the MileagePlus X app.|
|NRG||Earn 12,500 United miles after two months of active service, plus up to 3 United miles for every $1 you spend on the supply portion of your electric and natural gas bills each month.|
|Quicken Loans||Earn 25,000 United miles for closing or refinancing a home loan through Quicken Loans.|
|Reliant||Earn 15,000 United miles at sign-up and 500 bonus miles each month for 24 months.|
|SimpliSafe||Earn 7,000 United miles when you order any new SimpliSafe home security system.|
|Teleflora||Earn 30 United miles per dollar spent on flowers.|
|Vinesse Wines||Earn 5,000 United miles, plus 5 miles per $1 spent when you join the American Cellars Wine Club.|
|1800Flowers||Earn 15 United miles per dollar spent on flowers and gifts.|
Redeeming miles on partner flights
United recently switched to dynamic award pricing for all partner award tickets. This caused the price of most partner awards to go up by at least 10% in early 2020, making United miles significantly less valuable for partner awards. Regardless, it’s good to have the option to redeem miles on these flights if you have miles available to you.
That said, United generally prices award space on its own planes lower than flights operated by partners. Thankfully, United will usually not charge additional miles if you connect from a United flight to a partner flight so long as your flight is in the same region as where the United flight lands.
For example, you could book a flight from Newark (EWR) to Prague (PRG) via Munich (MUC) for 60,000 United miles one-way in business class. In this example itinerary, the EWR to MUC segment is operated by United and the MUC to PRG segment is operated by Lufthansa. United charges 60,000 miles if you were to only book the EWR to MUC flight, and we’ve found this to be the case for a majority of United award itineraries.
This means that you can leverage United’s partner flight network to fly to destinations not served by United while not using any additional miles. Considering United’s huge list of airline partners, you can fly to just about anywhere in the world using your United miles.
You can find award space for virtually all United partners on its website. This includes non-alliance partners like Aer Lingus and Hawaiian Airlines, as well as all of the carrier’s Star Alliance partners. In fact, United’s website is often considered the best Star Alliance search tool.
Reciprocal elite status benefits
All United Premier elites get reciprocal benefits on all Star Alliance carriers. United Premier Silver members are eligible for Star Alliance Silver status while United Premier Gold and above are eligible for the more lucrative Star Alliance Gold status. These benefits can make your flight experience easier when flying on partner carriers.
To take advantage of your Star Alliance benefits when flying partners, just add your United MileagePlus number to a partner booking. The airline will automatically recognize your Star Alliance status and add a “*G” note to your ticket.
Here’s a look at both Star Alliance Silver and Star Alliance Gold benefits:
Star Alliance Silver
Star Alliance Silver status is pretty barebones. It includes very minimal benefits that, while helpful, won’t drastically change your airport experience.
These benefits include:
- Priority waitlisting: If your desired class of service isn’t available at the time of booking, your status gives you higher priority on the waitlist. This does not apply to award tickets.
- Priority airport standby: Your status gives you higher priority on the standby list for your preferred flight, except when you are traveling on an award ticket. This can be helpful if you want to fly on an earlier flight.
Star Alliance Gold
Things get more interesting with Star Alliance Gold status. These members are eligible for more tangible benefits like lounge access and priority security.
Here’s a look at the full suite of Star Alliance Gold benefits:
- Gold Track security: You can use dedicated Gold Track security lanes when flying on Star Alliance flights.
- Extra baggage allowance: You can take an extra 44 points (20kg) of checked baggage on partner flights. Plus, most Star Alliance airlines let you check an additional piece of baggage for free. Note that select Basic Economy fares are exempt from this benefit.
- Priority boarding: You’ll board before other travelers on all Star Alliance flights, even when flying in economy class.
- Priority baggage handling: Your checked baggage will be among the first off the plane when you land.
- Airport lounge access: You can access Star Alliance partner lounges when flying any Star Alliance partner. Note that United elites cannot access United Clubs unless flying on an international flight.
- Priority airport check-in: You can use priority check-in desks when flying Star Alliance partner carriers.
United has a slew of different partners, making it one of the easiest airlines to earn miles with. We highly recommend starting with a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card if you’re just starting out on your mileage journey — this card will give you the option to transfer points to United, but will keep you flexible and open to other redemptions too.
When it comes to redeeming miles, you’ll get the best deals by redeeming United miles for flights operated by United. However, you can still leverage the airline’s vast partner network to redeem miles if United doesn’t serve your destination of choice.
Featured photo by Carlos Yudica/Shutterstock
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