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There are dozens of ways to earn miles and I’d like to share one of my favorites today: The United Airlines MileagePlus X app. It’s an iPhone/Android app that completely changes the concept of buying gift cards.
The program enables you to purchase electronic gift cards for many of your favorite vendors on the fly and even gives you a direct link to redeem the card and recharge your balance with an online vendor, such as Amazon. But you can also use it at many local vendors simply by entering the total amount into the app when standing at the register and then giving the cashier your gift card number. The cashier will do the rest. You earn United Airlines MileagePlus miles on every gift card you buy. The amount of miles vary from merchant to merchant, with some as high as 5x miles. Best of all, the app does not have its own merchant code but uses the merchant code of the card you’re buying instead. This means that an Applebee’s card purchased through MileagePlus X will show as an Applebee’s charge-and therefore as dining-on your credit card statement. With this, you have the ability to not only earn United miles when using the app, but also your usual credit card points. When using a Chase United MileagePlus credit card with the United MileagePlus X app, you enjoy a 25 percent bonus on the miles you earn. Not a bad deal if you ask me and the best part is that the whole process is just very simple. Miles earned from the app are credited to your United MileagePlus account instantly.
Note that some merchants will only allow you to purchase gift cards in specific denominations. Amazon gift cards for instance, which earn you 1x miles with the app, only come in $25, $50, $100, $250 and $500 denominations and do not let you enter a custom amount. But this is not a huge deal with Amazon cards, as you really only need specific amounts for in store purchases. Another minor limitation is that certain gift cards, while customizable, require a minimum amount. Lowes gift cards, also 1x miles, start at $25 and are fully customizable thereafter. My personal favorite, besides Amazon gift cards, are Starbucks gift cards. I earn 2x United miles on them by using the app itself, 2x Ultimate Rewards points for dining when I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for the transaction (or 5x points with the Chase Freedom when dining is a bonus category), and then Starbucks Stars when I upload the gift card onto my Starbucks app and use it at checkout. I then enjoy a free cup of “Joe” for every 125 Stars I collect. If this isn’t hitting three birds with one stone, I don’t know what is.
Besides accepting credit and debit cards, the app also allows you to pay with miles. However, I highly discourage doing so, unless it’s absolutely necessary or you just have tons of miles to burn, as you’ll be paying at a rate of 1.48 miles per cent.
One area of improvement I’d like to see is possibly adding PayPal as a payment option. This still allows for maximum point earning potential, but with the added security benefit that neither the merchant, nor the app itself, receives your actual credit card information. Combined with the already immense security feature of not having to physically pull out your credit card at the register or receiving a receipt with the last four numbers of your card number printed, and I think you have a true competitor to Apple Pay and Android Pay.
In all, the United MileagePlus App offers a great addition to any points and miles strategy, even if you’re not a United Airlines regular. I’m certainly not, as my closest airport (PHF) only serves American Airlines and Delta. But I do not mind earning “free” United miles on the side, especially when those can become very valuable when redeemed with Star Alliance partners.
Are you currently using the app? What do you use it for and how do you redeem your MileagePlus miles? Please comment below and follow us on social media. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter so you always stay up to date.