Credit Cards The Basics

The Best Reason To Keep the United MileagePlus Credit Card – A Real Cost-Saver!

45 United Miles Per Dollar
Written by Charlie

The United MileagePlus credit cards do not offer that much to justify keeping them year after year but this one reason could tip the scales.


I wrote last week about how the United credit cards really need to be updated with some of their offerings. I mean, out of all the airline co-branded cards, the United cards really give people the least to love about it. But, there is one reason to keep the United cards and one that I appreciate even more now that I am no longer a United elite member (I choose instead to credit everything to Aegean for my Star Gold status).

The Best Reason to Keep the United MileagePlus Credit Card

Check out this post for information on the best, targeted offer of 75,000 United miles.

Increased Award Availability

Here is the feature of the United cards that I feel makes the best argument to keep the card going forward – and it is not even a headline feature of the card! That feature is increased award availability. The card does offer the ability to redeem any seat on any United flight at the standard award level (which is good if you have to fly and there is only one seat and it costs many times the normal cost) but this feature is a little better than that.

United mileageplus credit

This is WITHOUT the United card on a regional route

United Mileageplus credit

This is WITH the United credit card – a lot more space and options!

Having the United card (any of them) or being a United elite member opens up another bucket of award ticket classes which means better award availability.

united mileageplus

The United flight on this reservation is only available since I am a Chase cardmember

Try It Out!

If you have the card, try this. Open and do an award search without logging in. If it is a popular route/time of year, you will see a lot of white on the award calendar (which doesn’t necessarily mean there is not space so check the days to see for sure). Now, log in with your account that has the United card. You will likely see a spike in award availability on the calendar and then it will also show up as you check the days.

One Example of the Savings

This will work on United flights and it works on both domestic and international award tickets. It will not open up everything but it definitely gives more options. I cannot tell you how often I have used this little feature when booking award tickets! Here is one way this has come in as incredibly valuable:

I was trying to book an international award but it was not giving me the short, regional hop to connect to the partner carrier for overseas. This is typical on smaller, more regionally based flights since they are more limited in the schedule and, depending on the time, are easy to sell and fill with commuters. But, once I logged in, I actually was able to get 4 seats on that same flight that was before showing as not available! By itself, that was a huge help since otherwise I would have had to either buy the ticket on that flight to connect on my award flight or wait and hope for space to open up. When something like this happens, it is definitely worth the annual fee on the card.

Have you used the increased award availability that is available for cardholders?

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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.