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

Sep 3, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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 way 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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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.

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 Christian Petersen-Clausen/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.