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The 7 Best Deals We’ve Found Using United Miles

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Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

You’ve likely already received these deals. If not, log into your Premium deals hub to see every recent alert we've sent.

Whether you've banked some MileagePlus miles from years of flying United, carry one of their co-branded credit cards, or have some Chase points you can instantly transfer, sitting on a bunch of United miles is a very good problem to have. But it's time to start using them.

We know, we know: It's hard. What's a good use of United MileagePlus miles and what should you skip? Let's start with the best of the best.

We've sent Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers hundreds of award alerts to use their United miles over the years. The standout deals run the gamut from deeply discounted sales flying United abroad to some amazing redemptions using United miles to fly on one of the 20-plus Star Alliance partner airlines.

And as you'll see, there are stellar deals to be had whether you live in a big United hub airport like Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), or Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) or not.

Thrifty Traveler Premium members get cheap flight deals and award alerts to use their points and miles – read up on how it works!



A Nationwide Summer Sale to Europe for 40K Miles RT

United typically charges at least 70,000 miles – if not 80,000 – roundtrip for flights in economy to Europe. For a summer trip across the pond, expect to fork over 150,000 miles or more thanks to United's dynamic award pricing, which means award rates to book United flights follow cash prices.

But every once in a while, we see United slash award rates. That's just what happened a few years back when United opened the floodgates to fly from almost any city in the States… to many destinations in Europe … in the middle of summer … for just 40,000 miles roundtrip!


united miles sale to europe


Get the next amazing deal to use your United miles straight to your inbox! Sign up for Thrifty Traveler Premium now!

This is the upside of United's transition to dynamic award pricing: You can see sky-high award rates when using United miles … but occasionally, you get the deal of a lifetime.

From Amsterdam (AMS) to Dublin (DUB) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and even gems like Dubrovnik (DBV) in Croatia, 40,000 United miles was all you'd need for a trip in the middle of summer. That's unthinkably cheap – especially from smaller towns like Fargo (FAR)!

united fargo to amsterdam


United Polaris Biz Class to India

Finding cheaper rates on economy seats is one thing, but booking business class with United miles at a bargain is even harder – especially to India, where finding any award availability to book lie-flat seats is practically impossible.

But not if you get Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts, like this one we sent to members last summer. With a quick pitstop in Newark (EWR) – and its fabulous Polaris business class lounge – you could fly to Delhi (DEL) in United Polaris business class seats from almost any city in the U.S. for just 80,000 United miles each way!


united polaris deal india


And this wouldn't just get you to India in lie-flat seats on one or two days. No, there was wide-open availability to book these business class seats to Delhi for nearly a year – as far out as July 2024! And not just to get you there flying solo, but with seats for up to nine passengers!

The only thing better than spending a 15-hour flight in a spacious seat like this (that reclines into a bed) is using just 80,000 United miles to make it happen.


united polaris seat


Business class deals like this one are the best ways to use your United miles – start getting Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts to get the heads up!


Or Fly Biz Class Worldwide!

It might just be the single best deal on this list … and it's definitely the weirdest.

Last spring, United opened the floodgates to book its Polaris business class seats to … well, pretty much anywhere in the globe! Want to get to Amsterdam (AMS) or London-Heathrow (LHR) in a lie-flat seat? No problem. How about a business class seat down to Brazil, over to Tahiti (PPT), or all the way to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)? Yep, those too. Even the ultra-long journeys to Cape Town (CPT) or Sydney (SYD) were bookable for 80,000 United miles or less!


msp to cape town


This amazing deal is long gone – get the next one instantly with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

While the scope was worldwide, the dates were incredibly limited on this deal. Whether you went to Europe, Asia, or South Africa, these cheaper business class seats were bookable on just six days: From March 14 through March 19, 2024.


united worldwide premium deal


That's right: Some lucky Thrifty Traveler Premium members are taking off on a bucket-list trip in United business class next month.


Australia and Back for 60K Miles

Whether you're using cash or miles, getting to Australia is tough – and I'm not just talking about surviving the 14-plus-hour flight.

That's what made this deal from United we found and sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members so astounding: Roundtrip flights from almost any U.S. airport with United service all the way to Sydney (SYD), Brisbane (BNE), or Melbourne (MEL) for just 60,000 miles total. Search today, and you're likely to see roundtrip rates of 100,000 United miles … or much more.

Best of all, these flights were available for a trip throughout all of 2023 and even into early 2024 – just in time for peak summer in the Land Down Under!


australia united miles


And whether you flew nonstop from San Francisco (SFO) or Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) or a one-stop to Sydney starting all the way from the East Coast, it still cost just 60,000 miles roundtrip.

This deal is long gone now, but those who jumped on it know how good they have it. Consider this: This exact same flight from New York City-LaGuardia (LGA) to Sydney (SYD) would cost more than 110,000 United miles to book today.


united laguardia sydney


Turkish Business Class for Less

Call it a mistake fare or call it whatever you want – sometimes, airlines just screw up. That's just what happened a year ago … and we caught it.

We unearthed a pricing error to give our Thrifty Traveler Premium members a chance to fly the amazing Turkish Airlines business class to Istanbul (IST) for just 60,000 United MileagePlus miles each way – substantially less than what United typically charges for these partner award redemptions.


united deal turkish business class


But the beauty of this deal is that it wasn't just bookable on Turkish's nonstop routes from airports like New York City (JFK), Newark (EWR), Boston (BOS), or Chicago-O'Hare (ORD). No, you could start your trip from almost any city in the country flying United, maybe pop into a Polaris Lounge during your layover, then continue over to Turkey … all for just 60,000 miles total.

United caught the error within a few hours and killed this deal. But not before Thrifty Traveler Premium members booked a discounted trip in lie-flat business class seats to one of the best cities on the planet.

Flying like this all the way to Istanbul might just be one of the best ways to use 60,000 United miles, if you ask us.


turkish airlines business class cabin


Read our full review of flying Turkish business class from Istanbul to San Francisco! 


Tahiti and Back for 42K Miles

How does sitting on a beach – maybe even on the deck of an overwater bungalow – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean sound? Amazing … but expensive, right.

Getting there doesn't have to be. Check this out.


united tahiti deal


That's right: Just 42,000 United miles for roundtrip flights to Tahiti (PPT). And that's not just for the nonstop from San Francisco (SFO), but the same rate held true for one- and two-stop trips from airports big and small all across the country.

Best of all, these were main cabin economy fares. That means for just 42,000 miles total, you could pick your seats for free on every flight on the way to and from Tahiti – and if your plans changed, you could cancel the trip and get all those miles back for free.


A Unicorn: 60K Miles Business Class to New Zealand

When you're flying all the way to New Zealand, a lie-flat business class seat is paramount. But booking those seats (and beds) isn't cheap: It'll typically cost you 300,000 United miles or more just for a one-way flight.

Take a look at this.


united mileageplus


You're not seeing things: Just 60,000 United miles for a business class seat all the way to Wellington (WLG) in New Zealand with just a quick connection in Australia. You know you're getting a deal when flying business class costs a fraction of a cramped economy seat.

This unicorn fare popped up a few years ago, but it was too good not to include here. It came and went fast, but not before Thrifty Traveler Premium members jumped on it for a trip to the land down under later in 2022 or even 2023 – including New Zealand's peak summer!


united deal to new zealand


How to Earn United Miles

Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to earn United miles.

Yes, you can earn miles flying with United and its partner airlines. But the best way to earn a bunch of United MileagePlus miles is with credit cards – and not just United's own Chase cards.

That's an option, of course. United has a handful of co-branded cards with Chase including the *united club infinite*, the *united quest*, the *united explorer*, and the *united gateway*.

The *united explorer* is almost always the best place to start: You can currently bonus_miles_full Plus, you'll get a credit that covers the cost of signing up for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.


*united explorer*


Learn more about the *united explorer*.


But we'd argue the best way to earn United MileagePlus miles isn't from a credit card with United's name on it. It's via Chase's Ultimate Rewards-earning cards like the *chase sapphire preferred* or the *chase sapphire reserve*. United is a Chase transfer partner, which means you can instantly turn a stash of 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards into 75,000 United miles.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is our go-to recommendation for most travelers thanks to its reasonable annual fee of just $95. But most importantly, it comes with a sweet welcome bonus offer: bonus_miles_full


*chase sapphire preferred*


Learn more about the *chase sapphire preferred*


It's also worth hard look at either the Chase Freedom Flex or the *freedom unlimited* cards. They form a perfect tandem with a Sapphire Card. And though they're marketed as no-annual-fee cashback credit cards, you can transfer the cashback earned from either card directly into your Chase account, turning that cashback straight into Chase points.

Renters, though, should look at one card in particular.

The *Bilt Mastercard* allows you to earn 1x point per dollar you spend on rent each month without paying extra transaction fees – and there's no annual fee for holding the card, either. It's a no-brainer option for renters.

Bilt Rewards sweetens the deal with what it calls Bilt Rent Day: A monthly promotion that allows you to accelerate on the first of each month. So long as you make at least five transactions every month with your Bilt card, you normally earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining, 2x points per dollar spent on travel, and 1x points on other purchases. On Bilt Rent Day, that doubles: You get 6x points per dollar on dining, 4x points on travel, and 2x points on other purchases.

Here's the beauty of earning Bilt points: You can transfer them to your United Airlines account on a 1:1 basis, so 50,000 Bilt points get you 50,000 MileagePlus miles.


Bottom Line

This list is by no means exhaustive. We could spend tens of thousands of words poring over the best deals we've found to use your United miles.

If you've got United MileagePlus miles to burn and aren't sure how best to use them, Thrifty Traveler Premium is here to help by, sending you alerts for the best flights you can actually book with your points and miles.


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.

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