Overview of United

One of the big three US airlines along with American and Delta
Strongest international US Carrier (especially to Asia)
Member of
Star Alliance


Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Denver (DEN)
Guam (GUM)
Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
Los Angeles (LAX)
New York Newark (EWR)
San Francisco (SFO)
Washington DC - Dulles (IAD)

Route map


United doesn’t own other airlines but contracts with many regional (small plane) carriers that operate as “United Express.” These flights are generally indistinguishable from normal United Flights.


United elite status guide

United gives elite status based on how much money you spend on airfare (PQP) and how many flights you fly on United / United Express planes (PQF).
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There is an unpublished invite only tier above 1K called “Global Services” you can reach by being “highly profitable” to United (varies by geo but typically spending $30k-60k / year). You can also reach Global Services by pre-paying for ~$50,000 of United flights through their “PassPlus Program”
All elites are technically eligible for “complimentary premier upgrades” (CPUs) on domestic flights but it is unlikely you will be upgraded at low tiers unless you fly uncommon routes away from hubs since the upgrade list is prioritized on the basis of:
  1. United Global Services requests
  1. PlusPoints upgrades and MileagePlus Upgrade Awards
  1. Premier status of the traveler
  1. Fare class
  1. Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders and Presidential Plus cardholders
  1. United Corporate Preferred participants
  1. United Chase Cardmembers with $25,000 in annual spending
  1. Date and time of request

Earn PlusPoints for upgrades

Platinum and 1K give you “PlusPoints” you can use for international upgrades or higher priority on the domestic upgrade list.
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Earn MileagePlus points based on spend

You earn redeemable miles based on your ticket price times your status tier earnings (ex: $1,000 flight as a Gold member earns 8,0000 redeemable miles). Maximum redeemable miles you can earn on a ticket is capped at 75,000.

United MileagePlus redemptions

United is one our most redeemed points. The miles are easy to accumulate, United doesn’t charge “fuel surcharges” on award tickets, and has good availability on their own planes.
The website is easy to use and good for finding general
Star Alliance

How to earn a lot of United Points

You can transfer points to United from
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Bilt Rewards
(both 1:1) and
(as high as 2 Marriott → 1 United). Chase is the easiest to accumulate a lot of points quickly.
You can also consider United credit cards for quick bonuses and ongoing perks that can resemble elite status.

United branded credit cards

You can use my referral link to get offers that are sometimes better than what is normally advertised but do your own research to make sure.

United Quest is my favorite.

I don’t spend on this card because the rewards structure is not that good but it has a good sign-up bonus and valuable benefits.
  • ~80k mile sign-up bonus after $5k of purchases in the first three months.
  • There is a $250 annual fee but it pays for itself if you fly United a few times with:
    • $125 United purchase credit
    • 5k miles off each of your first two redemptions.
  • Other benefits
    • First two checked bags free
    • “Increased saver award availability” if you don’t have United elite status. This can actually be quite valuable (you could sometimes pay 30k miles for a one-way to Europe when they charge others 70k).
    • If you are an elite you are eligible for upgrades on award tickets.

United Explorer is good if you want to just get miles and close the card after a year.

  • 60k - 70k mile sign-up bonus after $3k of purchases in first three months.
  • No annual fee the first year
  • 2x United Club passes each year (about as good as a priority pass lounge).

United Club could make sense if you really really like the United Club

  • 100k sign-up bonus after $5k of spend
  • United Club membership (if you value this a lot and fly enough you can get this for free by crediting your points to one of United’s Star Alliance partners like
    Aegean Airlines

I don’t think the other United cards are worth considering for business owners.


United brand cards

Cards that transfer to United

Current as of 23.03.27
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