Credit Cards The Basics

The Best Feature of the United Credit Cards for Awards

Written by Charlie

Here is the one feature of the United credit cards that makes it always worthwhile to keep around – if you redeem United miles for awards!

Two United credit cards – the United Explorer card and the United Club Infinite card – are both having limited time bonus increases. This special feature of the United credit cards does not just apply to those cards, however. It works for all the United credit cards and it can make your award hunting much easier!

The United Credit Cards Unlock Better Award Availability

Like it or hate it (and I absolutely hate it when trying to book through United partners like Aeroplan!) but United has built in a credit card perk that will unlock more award availability on United flights. This does not happen for all United flights but it does open up availability on many of them! This can help you save a lot of miles or get your on better flights, just by having a United credit card (or United elite status).

What Does This United Credit Card Feature Do?

For any United elite member or United credit card holder (personal or business), it unlocks access to a special “fare bucket” – or a way the airline allots seats at various prices. This means that United may often hold back award space, especially on regional flights.

This even works with the no-fee United credit card!

By having one of these cards that unlock those seats, you will see a special message below those flights when you are logged in. It lets you know that you have exclusive access to those awards at the regular prices.

How Does This Help?

If you are trying to book United flights through partners (like Aeroplan or Avianca), this feature does not help you at all. That can be frustrating since United is holding back options that could work for you with another program!

This only helps if you book directly through United. How this helps is that it gives you access to a wider range of flight options, some of which could save you having to overnight or could help you connect to the flight of your choice for the long-haul. That is the big help – trying to book a big trip.

Since many partners have a lot more award seats available (since they are much larger planes), the stingiest award seats of them all could just be United. With this feature, you get some seats unlocked so you can really put together an optimal itinerary.

Who Does It Work For?

It is tied to the United frequent flyer account of the person with the credit card. But, that person can book awards for anyone so it is not just for that person. That means the person with this feature can book flights for friends or family out of the individual’s own mileage balance to take advantage of the unlocked award space.

Bottom Line

While getting big mileage bonuses is nice, the reason I hold a United card year after year is because of this awesome award unlocking feature. Booking just one or two awards a year when you are not flexible can totally make this card worth it.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • “It works for all the United credit cards and it can make your award hunting much easier!”
    Correct! Best of all, this availability is also available on the non-published no annual fee versions of the United Mileage Plus credit cards.