The only U.S. credit card rewards program that allows you to transfer points to the United MileagePlus program is Chase Ultimate Rewards. But what if you don’t have Ultimate Rewards points? Does it mean you can’t use points from other rewards program to book an award flight on United?
The fact is, whatever points you have, you will be able to transfer them to an airline program, which has United as a partner. So you don’t really need United miles to book a flight on United, and sometimes you can even save valuable miles.
How to Fly United with American Express Membership Rewards Points
By transferring your points to any of these programs, you can redeem them on United.
The reasons why you might want to do that can differ. Maybe you don’t have United miles, and United is the only airline that can take you from point A to point B. Or it might offer a better schedule or more comfortable seats. Or you might just be loyal to United and fly it wherever you can.
What’s more important, however, is that there are times when using a partner airline’s currency might get you a better deal than paying for your ticket with United miles.
Flying United on Air Canada Miles
Unfortunately, after the devaluation a couple of years ago, Air Canada miles have become much less competitive, and the current Air Canada award chart doesn’t offer any great deal compared to United redemption rates. Sometimes, it lets you save a few thousand miles compared to United, other times it’s even more expensive.
For example, Air Canada rates are on a par with United for flights to Western Europe, but Eastern Europe costs a whopping 15,000 miles more – 75,000 miles – while United defines Europe as one region. An award ticket to any European destination costs 60,000 United miles.
Having said that, Air Canada has one great feature – you can get up to two free stopovers and one open jaw on a round-trip award flight. This beats United with a stick, especially after United replaced its free stopover with the Excursionist Perk, which only allows a stopover within one geographical region. Unlike the Excursionist Perk, Air Canada allows you to get two stopovers anywhere in the world on the way to or from your destination.
Keep in mind that you can’t book two stopovers online. You have to call Air Canada at: 800-361-5373.
Flying United Using ANA Miles
Booking a United flight with ANA Mileage Club miles can save you a lot of miles for some destinations, especially if you are looking for a business class award redemption. Here are some examples when ANA redemption levels are better than United’s (round-trip).
Flights to Hawaii (economy and business)
United MileagePlus: 45,000 and 80,000
ANA Mileage Club: 40,000 and 68,000
Europe and Southern South America
United MileagePlus: 60,000 and 115,000 (110,000 miles to South America)
ANA Mileage Club: 55,000 and 88,000
United MileagePlus: 70,000 and 130,000
ANA Mileage Club: 55,000 and 90,000
ANA also offers better redemption levels than United in business to the rest of Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. It also features one free stopover and up to two open jaws. In addition, ANA doesn’t add fuel surcharges to United.
However, ANA doesn’t allow one-way redemption, which is a significant shortcoming.
Flying United Using Singapore Miles
Using Singapore KrisFlyer miles can be a good way to fly United, although your savings won’t be spectacular (round-trip).
Hawaii (economy and business)
United MileagePlus: 40,000 and 80,000
Singapore KrisFlyer: 35,000 and 60,000
Continental U.S. (business)
United MileagePlus: 50,000
Singapore KrisFlyer: 40,000
The best use for the U.S. flight would be a lie-flat seat between New York and Los Angeles for 20,000 miles one-way or 40,000 miles round-trip.
South America (business)
United MileagePlus: 110,000
Singapore KrisFlyer: 100,000 miles
United MileagePlus: 60,000
Singapore KrisFlyer: 55,000
You can’t book a Singapore partner award online, so you’ll have to call 312-843-5333.
Other Citi ThankYou Programs to Fly on United
There are two other Citi ThankYou partner transfer programs you can use to book United flights: Thai Royal Orchid Plus and Eva Infinity MileageLands. Unfortunately, these programs are difficult to use for redemption on partner airlines, and there are no advantages to using them anyway since their award charts are quite stingy. Stick to ANA and Singapore if you want savings, and to Air Canada if you want a second stopover.
How to Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points
You can earn Membership Rewards points with the following American Express cards: