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Register to earn thousands of bonus miles with United's targeted Mile Play offer

July 14, 2021
6 min read
United 787-10 Dreamliner Polaris Premium Plus Tour
Register to earn thousands of bonus miles with United's targeted Mile Play offer
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Every few months, United MileagePlus members open up United's mobile app to find a new "Mile Play" offer available, giving frequent flyers an opportunity to earn bonus miles after completing a specific, travel-related task.

Members who haven't flown United much recently tend to be targeted for the most compelling offers, but that isn't always the case. TPG values United miles at 1.1 cents each, so even a 10,000-mile offer would be worth $110 — worth a look, especially if you're already thinking about booking a trip.

I surveyed the TPG team, and received a wide variety of results. TPG staffers were targeted for the following offers this time around:

  • 22,000 miles: Take two $450 premium-seat trips
  • 21,000 miles: Take three $175 trips
  • 8,600 miles: Take one $650 premium-seat trip
  • 8,600 miles: Take two $150 trips
  • 8,400 miles: Take three $125 trips
  • 5,000 miles: Take two $500 premium-seat trips
  • 2,500 miles: Take two $50 trips

My offer was among the least impressive — I could earn 7,800 miles after booking four premium trips totaling at least $650 each. I'm a Premier 1K member with a handful of trips already booked, and I've achieved far easier Mile Play offers in the past, so I'm not surprised to see United throwing a real challenge my way.

(Screenshot courtesy of United)

I recommend heading over to this page to check out your own offer, then coming back here for a quick rundown on how to hit the mark.

If you're especially lucky, you'll end up with an offer similar to what my girlfriend pulled up below. She's a United Premier Silver with several paid and award trips booked over the next few months, and was targeted for the best offer I've encountered to date — after taking four trips with a base fare of at least $225 each, she'll earn a grand total of 36,000 miles, worth $396, based on TPG's valuations.

(Screenshot courtesy of United)

United defines a "trip" as a "unique travel itinerary as documented by United with a confirmation number," so it's technically possible to satisfy the requirements with a single journey.

For example, if my girlfriend booked four separate tickets for a trip between the East Coast and California, such as the example outlined below, she'd earn the 36,000-mile bonus — assuming the base fare totaled $225 for each individual itinerary.

(Screenshot courtesy of Great Circle Mapper)

To determine whether or not a given trip qualifies, you can look at the "PQP" earnings for that trip. If you're searching for a one-way itinerary, it's easy to see your PQP earnings on the flight results page — in this case, 214 for the economy flight option, as you can see below.

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If the total is just shy of the promo requirement, as it is here, you can try using the "Advanced Search" option to search for a higher fare class, as outlined in this detailed post. Alternatively, you can call United reservations at 800-864-8331 and ask an agent to price out a higher fare.

(Screenshot courtesy of United)

Regardless of which offer you receive, you can expect your bonus miles to post within eight weeks of the end of the promotion — at 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Sept. 30, 2021 — though I've had them in my account far sooner than that in the past. Note that all eligible travel must be completed by that Sept. 30 deadline as well.

Other ways to earn United miles

While this promo can certainly give your account a big boost, there are a handful of opportunities to earn miles without flying, too.

You can transfer points instantly from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United MileagePlus, or you can earn miles after meeting the spending requirement with a new United cobranded credit card. Current offers include:

  • United Explorer Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. The first year annual fee is waived and it’s $95 per year thereafter.
  • United Quest Card: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 500 Premier qualifying points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. The card costs $250 per year and comes with perks like a $125 annual United credit for eligible purchases.
  • United Club Infinite Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 1,000 Premier qualifying points (PQP) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. The annual fee on this card is $525, but that's largely offset by the United Club membership that comes with this card.

Cards that earn bonus miles on United flights

While these United co-branded cards are the best for stocking up on United miles, you'll earn even more miles when you book these flights with one of the best cards for airfare purchases, like The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel; on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare) or the Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees), Chase Sapphire Reserve®, American Express® Gold Card, which each earn 3x on airfare (when booked directly with airlines or on Amex Travel on the Amex Gold).

The information for the Citi Prestige 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.

Featured image by Customers lose any residual value when moving to a lower-cost United flight. Photo by Zach Honig/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.