Though United the airline has a bad reputation, we believe they operate one of the most useful loyalty programs in the world, MileagePlus. Outstanding availability, regular “saver” awards, the ability to book partner awards online and a huge network all contribute to United MileagePlus’ outstanding valuation. This month, we’re assigning an ACRV of $0.0151 to each MileagePlus mile. Sadly though, this is down from $0.0179 last year. Like almost all of United’s peers, devaluation seems to be the trend.
|US Domestic Value||$0.0064|
|US Domestic Non-zero Average||0.0086|
|International Non-zero Average||0.0317|
|Overall Non-zero Average||$0.0202|
While standard United availability is outstanding(100%), there’s a way to make it even better. When one pairs their MileagePlus account with Chase, via the Chase MileagePlus Explorer or Club cards, one is given additional redemption options, frequently at the saver level. It’s is for this reason alone we recommend keeping the Explorer “sock drawer-ed”. It’s not great for everyday spend, but the additional award booking opportunities make the $95 annual fee worth it. Oh yeah, and the 2 annual club passes aren’t bad either. Take a look at the two examples below to see what we mean.
The chart above represents an almost best-case scenario. Great all around award availability paired with the opportunity for some absolutely phenomenal redemption values. Our best for the month comes from a first class seat from LAX to Sydney offered for 130,000 miles + $113.70 in fees. The lowest priced cash alternative was a whopping $12,035, providing a redemption value of $0.0917! Not the highest we’ve ever seen, but it’s up there. Certainly a redemption to brag about.
United, along with transfer partner Southwest, are probably the two most practical options for a US based traveler looking to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for air travel. Though we consider Southwest the better economy booking option, United is obviously the better choice for premium and international travel.