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New series: TPG Quick points — How to earn more United miles on the run

Sept. 03, 2021
4 min read
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TPG is known for its highly-detailed, comprehensive coverage of various frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty promotions, credit card rewards and travel reviews. But sometimes you don't have the time to scroll through an entire guide to benefits.

Instead of that four-course-meal's worth of information, maybe you're just in the mood for a snack-sized tip that will make it easier for you to earn points, redeem miles or maximize your travel. And if that's what you are looking for today, you've come to the right place.

Welcome to TPG's newest series: 'Quick Points,' where we'll highlight a new, buried or easily forgotten ways to travel more for less in roughly 500 words.

To kick off this series, here's how — with a few taps on your phone — you can turn your lunch, clothing purchase, a Home Depot run and plenty of other shopping experiences into bonus United miles.

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Today's quick points

Not every travel app is worth downloading, but if you enjoy earning and using United MileagePlus miles, you need to download the MileagePlus X app.

We have a whole guide dedicated to that app if this is the first you've heard of it. But the short version is that you use the app to pay for your charges in the participating restaurant or retailer of your choice to earn anywhere from 0.5 miles to 10 bonus United miles per dollar spent.

The app has literally hundreds of popular outlets from which to choose, ranging from AMC Theaters to West Elm. When you know the final dollar amount of your purchase, type that number into the app, and use the credit card you have registered in the app to purchase what is essentially an e-gift card for exactly the amount of the transaction.

It sounds more complicated than it is. Once you have it set up, it adds mere seconds to any transaction.

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Related: Guide to United MileagePlus

How I use this in real life

I most frequently use MileagePlus X as quick way to earn extra United miles when I order lunch from Panera.

First, I head to Panera's website and select my pick-two salad-sandwich combo as usual. When I'm on the check-out screen I can see exactly what the order will cost.

(Screenshot courtesy of Panera)

In this case, my family's order comes to $39.12. Next, I head to the MileagePlus X app before I pay for the order. I enter that amount as the total needed for this Panera order.

(Screenshot courtesy of MileagePlus X app)

Once I hit 'Pay now' the credit card in my account will be charged for $39.12, and an e-gift card will be created. I can then enter those details under the gift card section to place my order.

(Screenshot courtesy of Panera)

Why it's worth it

In this case, I'd earn 5 United miles per dollar for placing the order via the MileagePlus X app — plus a 25% bonus for being a United credit cardholder.

That comes to a total of 243 miles from the app. That's even in addition to the 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining I earn by having paying with one of the best cards for dining charges, my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is the card I have linked to my MileagePlus X app. All in, I'd earn about 360 miles to go with my family's meal of sandwiches and salads.

It's a small total of miles by itself, but this quick step really adds to your annual haul of points and miles once you make it a part of your shopping and dining routine.

Featured image by Getty Images
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 featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees