Get Improved Value When Using United Miles to Offset Your Credit Card’s Annual Fee. But Should You Do It? Get Improved Value When Using United Miles to Offset Your Credit Card’s Annual Fee. But Should You Do It?

Get Improved Value When Using United Miles to Offset Your Credit Card’s Annual Fee. But Should You Do It?

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We've seen several devaluations to the United Airlines MileagePlus program in recent years, so you may be excited to hear that one form of using your miles is more valuable now: Using miles to cover your credit card's annual fee. Previously, you could redeem United miles to cover your card's annual fee at a rate of 1.5¢ per mile. Now, that value has increased for some cardholders.

Here's how you can redeem United miles toward your credit card's annual fee, the value it provides, and whether it's a good deal.

Other Non-Flight Redemptions for United Miles

First for a bit of context. With MileagePlus miles, you have a few redemption options for things other than standard award bookings. For example, you can use United miles to pay for a United Club Membership (at a value of 0.73¢–0.76¢ per mile) or use miles to offset cash airfare paid with a United co-branded credit card (1¢ per mile). Neither of these presents a particularly compelling value.

screenshot of pricing to use United miles for a United Club membership
Values range from 0.73¢ to 0.76¢ per mile. This is much less value than obtained from other uses of United miles.

That's why it was a pretty big deal that United MileagePlus members got a non-travel redemption worth 1.5¢ per mile. Now, that's gotten even better.

Use United Miles To Cover Your Card’s Annual Fee

Starting back in May 2020, United added the ability to redeem United miles to cover the annual fee on United Airlines co-branded credit cards. At first, the redemption rate was an even 1.5¢ per mile across all cards. However, United just increased the value of this redemption method for several cards, now providing up to 1.75¢ per mile.

Currently, you can make the following redemptions:

Card nameAnnual feeMiles Required to cover the full feeValue (cents per mile)Previous miles required to cover the full feePrevious value (cents per mile)
United Club℠ Infinite Card$52530,0001.75¢35,0001.5¢
United Quest℠ Card$25015,6251.6¢16,6671.5¢
United℠ Explorer Card$95 ($0 intro for the first year)6,2501.52¢6,3331.5¢
United℠ Business Card$996,6001.5¢No changeNo change
United Club℠ Business Card$45030,0001.5¢No changeNo change
United MileagePlus® Awards Card (not open to new applicants)$604,0001.5¢No changeNo change
United MileagePlus® Select Card (not open to new applicants)$956,3331.5¢No changeNo change
United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card (not open to new applicants)$45030,0001.5¢No changeNo change
United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Business Card (not open to new applicants)$45030,0001.5¢No changeNo change

For comparison, AwardWallet users have redeemed United miles at the following rates:

  • Overall average: 1.78¢
  • Short-haul economy/premium economy awards: 1.23¢
  • Short-haul business/first class awards: 1.67¢
  • Long-haul economy/premium economy awards: 2.12¢
  • Long-haul business/first class awards: 2.69¢

How to redeem United miles for your credit card's annual fee

To redeem United miles for your credit card's annual fee, follow these steps:

  • Log into your account at
  • On your account page, click on “More” on the top right corner.
  • Select “Rewards dashboard” from the menu.
  • Click on “Use MileagePlus miles with Pay Yourself Back” on the top navigation bar.

screenshot of where to click in the Chase user portal

Key terms

  • You can use miles to offset a United credit card's annual fee that posted in the past 90 days.
  • There is no end date listed for this redemption option.
  • You can redeem miles for a partial payment of your card's annual fee. This can provide additional options for your redemption strategy.

Our Take

There are two ways to look at these improved redemption rates. First, you could be happy that the value has gone up. After all, this redemption method is simple: It provides a fixed redemption rate.

Or you may be indifferent. It's possible to obtain better value for your United miles, so maybe you have no interest in redeeming them to offset your United credit card's annual fee. Clearly, other redemption methods require knowing where to look and patience to find saver awards in a program that uses dynamic award pricing with no fixed award chart.

In the end, the value you assign to this feature will depend on how you value United miles and how much work you're willing to put in to obtain that value.

Would you use United miles to reimburse your credit card's annual fee? Did you know this feature existed?

4.3 / 5 - (9 votes)
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  • Nope. There is no “rewards dashboard” anywhere to be found.

    • Ryan Smith says:

      Hi Chris, did you see the screenshot in the post showing where to click? Do you not have those same menu options? If you want to use miles for your annual fee and don’t see those same options, you could call the number on the back of your card.

  • It was a more compelling option when the miles used to expire.

  • Most frequent flyer sites value United’s mile as low as 1.0 cents per mile. I may be worth alot more if you choose well so I would say at 1.5 cents, is middle of the road. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  • I will just cancel my card if there is no offer to waive the fee… I can’t travel right now and this card does not make sense for the next year or more…

  • I think that this is a good idea and may boost retention rates on their credit cards.

  • What’s the point of paying the annual fee with miles when you are a very frequent United flyer and often redeem flight awards?

    • JT Genter says:

      It’s a great option for those who have United miles, are short on cash right now, and are hoping to keep open an account (for future travel perks, to maintain the credit line, avoid a credit score drop, etc.)

  • It all boils down to CPP and 1.5 cpp is actually on the high end for United. I’d ABSOLUTELY pay the fee with miles. Think of it this way too, you’re not earning miles when you pay your fee. You may as well burn miles when there is literally no opportunity cost.

    • Good point. Using miles for flights doesn’t count toward status whereas cash does. May as well put the cash toward airfare rather than your credit card bill.

  • could be a sign of devaluation to come as there are too many miles floating out there.

  • Interesting idea, UAL is looking at ways to burn off its miles liability?

    • I instantly came to the conclusion of United trying to clean up their books as soon as I read the headline.

    • Where does the money typically go though? The $95 goes to Chase so how does paying these miles to Chase work?

      • That’s a really good question. Are we paying the miles to Chase? If so do they go into the pot of miles that that isers receive when they transfer URs to United?

  • It is very tempting. We mostly do one international trip each year and one smaller trip closer, so not a lot of travel. I have a United card and have found that so far it really hasn’t done much for me because of having enough points, availability etc. I was thinking MAYBE I would keep it one more year, but with Covid and other things changing our plans it is really on the chopping block. If I am able to pay points for fees it might just save it. But then, our card isn’t eligible since it hasn’t been billed yet so it is a moot point for me now.

  • I just redeemed miles to cover my card’s annual fee. 1.5 cents/mile is pretty good value for United miles (higher than what I’d value them at, especially right now).

  • I have been looking for another airline to use as my #1. United might be the one thanks to this post. And If I can pay off annual fee by miles, that works for me

  • I had the United Club card and had also put about 28k spend on it last year. I called in april when my fee was due and didn’t get any offer. I just downgraded to the no-fee United Explorer card.

  • At 1.5 cents, I think this is a reasonable redemption. I would consider it.