New to the United MileagePlus program? This guide is ground zero for those who are just starting off. Read on for how to join the program, earn as many miles as you can, and use them for maximum value, even if you’re usually based in Australia!

What is United MileagePlus?

MileagePlus is United Airlines’ loyalty program. It can be useful for Australians who want to redeem miles with Star Alliance partners like Singapore Airlines, ANA and Air New Zealand.

How do I join United MileagePlus for free?

You can sign up to United MileagePlus for free using this link.

  1. Go to the sign-up page linked above.
  2. Enter your personal and contact information.
  3. Solve the ‘Captcha’ and decide whether you want promotional emails or not.
  4. You are now a member of United MileagePlus.
Free Join up to United MileagePlus Page
Example United MileagePlus enrolment form.

How do I earn United MileagePlus miles?

As a USA-based program, Australian frequent flyers may find it quite difficult to earn MileagePlus Miles through local rewards programs. Here are the best ways to earn those miles instead.

Earning MileagePlus miles with flights

Of course, you should consider earning miles with flights where possible. United is a Star Alliance member, which means its miles can be earned on flights by other Star Alliance airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways — both serve major Australian cities.

Be sure to add your United MileagePlus member number to eligible flight bookings to credit miles from flights to your account. Learn more about picking where to credit your miles.

List of United MileagePlus airline partners, including those of the Star Alliance.

Earning MileagePlus miles with other rewards programs

Unfortunately, MileagePlus isn’t a transfer partner of most flexible reward programs in Australia, such as American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards or Citi Rewards.

However, CommBank Award customers can transfer their points to United at a ratio of 4:1, which is a pretty poor rate compared to its other partners.

If you are short on miles for a redemption, you could also choose to transfer points over from Marriott Bonvoy.

Purchasing MileagePlus miles as a top-up

An easier way to access United MileagePlus miles is by buying them during promotions. The rates range from $75.25 USD for every 1,000 miles purchased (7.5 cents per mile) to $6,584.38 USD for 175,000 miles (3.8 cents per mile).

We value MileagePlus miles at 1.7 cents per point. These purchase rates are a lot higher, meaning it’s generally not great value unless you are really just a little short of your goal, or there is a big promotion that discounts the price.

Read our review of United’s fabulous Polaris Lounge in San Francisco.

How do I use United MileagePlus miles?

United switched to dynamic pricing for its own flights in November 2019, and then partner airline flights in early 2020. Dynamic pricing means the price of an award will fluctuate according to demand. Unfortunately, it means there are no more published award charts for flights, so the miles needed could vary on different flights.

As a guide, expect to use the following amount of miles on flights between Australia and the USA:

  • ~44,000 MileagePlus miles for Economy Class
  • ~99,000 MileagePlus miles for Business Class
United Polaris Business Class cabin
United Polaris Business Class is subject to dynamic pricing now. Read our related review of United Boeing 787 Business Class.

Upgrade award redemptions are still following a published award chart, which is easy to navigate. Just select the two regions that you’d like to travel between or within to see the required cost in miles.

How do I search for United MileagePlus award availability?

The best place to search for award availability and book flights with United and their partners is on the United website itself. You’ll need to sign up for a (free) United MileagePlus account to do so.

United opens its award calendar at 335 days before departure. Some partners will only release certain award and cabin types to members at later stages in the calendar cycle, such as Lufthansa First Class.

What is United MileagePlus status?

Holding MileagePlus Premier Gold status or above is the key to unlocking a raft of premium perks with United and its partners, such as complimentary upgrades, lounge access, and priority check-in and boarding.

Premier Qualifying Flights (PQFs) and Premier Qualifying Points (PQPs) are what you need to earn United elite status. With a minimum four segments flown on United or United Express, it’s difficult to maintain status if you’re currently based in Australia.

However, if you already have elite status with Qantas or Velocity, you could use that to get a status match with United instead.

Star Alliance Gold status comes with an array of perks such as lounge access.

Here are the status levels:

  • MileagePlus member
  • Premier Silver
  • Premier Gold
  • Premier Platinum
  • Premier 1K

(There’s also an invite-only tier called ‘Global Services’ at the top, but those details aren’t relevant to this guide).

Here is a quick summary of the United MileagePlus elite status tiers:

United MileagePlus Member card United MileagePlus member

There are no substantial benefits to this entry status level. It just means you are a member of the United MileagePlus program and can earn or redeem United miles.

United MileagePlus Silver card United Premier Silver

To achieve with PQF + PQP: 6 PQF and 2,000 PQP
To achieve with PQP only: 2,500 PQP
Star Alliance equivalent: Silver

  • Eligible for complimentary Premier upgrades on day of departure
  • Access to complimentary Economy Plus seating at check-in with one companion
  • 1x complimentary checked bag up to 32kg in Economy
  • 3x complimentary checked bags up to 32kg in premium cabins
  • Group 2 boarding
  • 7x miles earned on every flight.
  • Complimentary Hertz Rewards Five Star status

United MileagePlus Gold card United Premier Gold

To achieve with PQF + PQP: 12 PQF and 4,000 PQP
To achieve with PQP only: 5,000 PQP
For lifetime status: 1 million flown miles
Star Alliance equivalent: Gold

In addition to Silver benefits, Premier Gold members get:

  • Higher priority for Premier upgrades ar 48 hrs before departure
  • Access to complimentary Economy Plus seating at booking with one companion
  • 2x complimentary checked bags up to 32kg
  • Star Alliance Gold status offering worldwide lounge access and priority check-in/boarding/baggage when flying with alliance member airlines
  • Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
  • Group 1 boarding
  • Waived same-day flight change fees, and award change/cancel fees more than 61 days before departure
  • 8x miles earned on every flight

United MileagePlus Platinum card United Premier Platinum

To achieve with PQF + PQP: 18 PQF and 6,000 PQP
To achieve with PQP only: 7,500 PQP
For lifetime status: 2 million flown miles
Star Alliance equivalent: Gold

United Premier Platinum has the perks of Premier Gold, plus:

  • Higher priority for Premier upgrades ar 72 hrs before departure
  • 40 PlusPoints which can be used on upgrades
  • Complimentary access to Economy Plus with eight companions
  • 3x complimentary checked bags up to 32 kg
  • 9x miles earned on every flight
  • Waived award change/cancel fees less than 60 days before departure
  • Complimentary Hertz Rewards President’s Circle status

United MileagePlus 1K card United Premier 1K

To achieve with PQF + PQP: 26 PQF and 9,000 PQP
To achieve with PQP only: 12,000 PQP
For lifetime status: 3 million flown miles
Star Alliance equivalent: Gold

As the highest published tier, United Premier 1K adds these to the previous benefits:

  • Higher priority for Premier upgrades ar 96 hrs before departure
  • 280 PlusPoints for flight upgrades
  • 1x free drinks and snack in Economy Class flights
  • Pre-boarding before general boarding commences

How do I contact United MileagePlus?

You can call United MileagePlus (the loyalty program) on 1300 651 815 from Australia. This is separate from the main number used for reservations and booking changes. For other contact information, browse the United contact page here.

Summing up

United MileagePlus has long been a staple go-to for those chasing premium awards at a discounted cost — using those miles to book Thai Airways First Class between Sydney and Bangkok has long been a favourite of advanced Point Hackers.

However, the utility of United miles has decreased since they shifted to a dynamic pricing model for both United, Star Alliance and other partner flight awards. This makes the whole program less transparent and more unpredictable, which is not good when committing to a frequent flyer program.

Our warning remains the same as always: only buy or transfer miles with United when you have solid plans to use those miles on flights with confirmed award seat availability!

Do you know someone who might get some use out of the United MileagePlus program but needs a little help? Share this guide using the social media buttons below!

Frequently asked questions

What is United MileagePlus?

MileagePlus is United Airlines’ loyalty program. It can be useful for Australians who want to redeem miles with Star Alliance partners like Singapore Airlines, ANA and Air New Zealand.

What is my MileagePlus number?

Your MileagePlus number is your membership number for the program. You need it to be able to earn and redeem miles.

Can I transfer miles with United MileagePlus?

Yes, you can transfer United MileagePlus miles between accounts. However, a fee applies per 500 miles transferred and there is also a one-off processing charge. See here for more details.

What is the United MileagePlus login?

Login to your MileagePlus account here with your MileagePlus member number and password.

What is the United MileagePlus phone number?

Call 1300 651 815 from Australia or browse other contact information here.

When do points expire on United MileagePlus?

United MileagePlus miles don’t expire provided you earn or use miles at least once every 18 months.

What are United Airlines MileagePlus points worth?

We value United MileagePlus miles to be roughly worth 1.7 cents (AUD) each. Its actual value will depend on how you earn and use the miles. With dynamic award charts for flights, it’s harder to peg the value of each mile now.

Supplementary images courtesy United and MileagePlus.

A guide to the United Airlines MileagePlus program was last modified: September 23rd, 2020 by Steven Ang