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 $0.0161 to each MileagePlus mile. Nicely, this is up 6.2% from our last valuation in March. This contrasts well with United Competitor Delta, who had a 7.8% decrease over the same time period.
The only metric which saw a turn for the worst was their availability percent. Down to 98.96 from 100. Though honestly, this is probably due to the fact that this month, we started enforcing stricter duration/stop limits on flights.
|US Domestic Value||$0.0081||$0.0064||$0.0017|
|US Domestic Non-Zero Average||$0.0107||$0.0086||$0.0021|
|International Non-Zero Average||$0.0328||$0.0317||$0.0011|
While standard United availability is outstanding, 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. 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 Dallas(DFW) to Hong Kong(HKG) for 95,000 miles plus $80.60 in fees. The lowest priced cash alternative was a whopping $8,954, providing a redemption value of $0.0934! 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.
Compared to it’s Peers
|Program||ACR Value||NZ Average||Updated|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||0.0084||0.0251||07/30/2018|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||0.0057||0.0073||04/08/2018|