How to Earn Even More United Miles While Dining and Shopping

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If you have been at the miles and points hobby for a while then I’m sure you have read dozens of times about joining airline dining programs to earn miles when you eat out. However, for many of us there is an even better way to earn miles eating out and I’m pretty sure you have heard about it much less frequently. I know I haven’t done nearly as good of a job using and covering the MileagePlus X app I should have, but that is changing because it really is a great way to earn more United miles in your everyday life. Even if you read the word app and your eyes glaze over, just promise me you will read the whole thing and then decide if it is worth your time or not. 


The MileagePlus X App earns you United miles by selling you electronic gift cards to various retailers that you then in turn use to immediately pay at those retailers through the app for your meal, purchase, service, etc. You earn a set number of United miles per dollar based on the retailer selected. That number seems to often vary from .5 miles – 5 miles per dollar. You purchase an electronic gift card for the exact amount you need for that transaction instead of having small remnent amounts on various physical gift cards the way you often do if you just load up on traditional gift cards.

This may sound like a royal pain, but I promise it isn’t, so here’s a real life example of how it can work. Earlier this week we ordered Panera and our total came to $33.68. I could have just paid for the bill using our Chase Sapphire Reserve that awards 3x on dining and been done with it, but that would be leaving miles on the table.

Instead, I fired up the MileagePlus X App, clicked on Panera, entered the $33.68 amount, selected my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card to pay (it inputs the cards in your profile automatically), and immediately a Panera gift card code for $33.68 was displayed.

I entered the displayed gift card code into the online Panera ordering website and bam! It was done and we had earned 3x points on my Chase Sapphire Reserve for a dining charge, but I had also earned 5 United miles per dollar through the MileagePlus X App + a 25% bonus for having a United co-branded credit card. It all took less than a minute to take the extra step to use the app and earn an additional 210 United miles on top of the 101 Ultimate Rewards points via the Sapphire Reserve.


3x dining mileageplus app.jpg

Some other retailers in the MileagePlus X app include Papa John’s, Kohl’s, Chili’s, Texas Roadhouse, Saltgrass, Sephora, Panera, Panda Express, Lowe’s, Old Navy, Sunglass Hut, Petco, TJ Maxx, Outback, Pei Wei, Chipotle, OfficeMax, Toys R Us, Nordstrom Rack, IHOP, and many more.

MileagePlus X

Most of these are retailers that you can commonly find gift cards for via office supply stores, grocery stores, etc. but the MileagePlus X app can still be handy when you haven’t planned ahead to purchase a gift card at a bonus, or don’t want to mess with keeping up with physical gift cards. It can also be more rewarding at times since you can stack the earnings from the app with the earnings on your rewards credit card to essentially double dip and stack the miles and points earnings. We earned over 9 miles and points per dollar at Panera by stacking credit card rewards + MileagePlus X earnings.

I’m not the kind of person that uses dozens and dozens of apps every day, so I totally get it if you have your reservations about adding this to your life, but if you frequent some of the chain stores mentioned above or that you find in the app then you really are throwing away thousands of United miles a year if you don’t take the extra minute to use the MileagePlus X app.

I’d love to hear if you have used the MileagePlus X app and what you thought!


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  1. I use MileagePlusX all the time and absolutely love it. I’m a big fan of getting the bonus on the gift card for the exact amount – don’t like tracking balances.

    It’s super quick and easy to use highly recommended.

  2. I use it all the time for Starbucks and Amazon, and often for BJ’s Brewery, PF Chang’s and Texas Roadhouse. I’ve earned over 1500 United miles from the app alone this year. The only time that I don’t use it is when I’m trying to earn additional Hilton points for an upcoming award stay, because Amex doesn’t recognize those charges as restaurant spend, but any Chase card does. It literally takes less than one minute, and gets even quicker after you have done it a couple of times.

  3. I’ve definitely integrated this into my life lol

    When I’m at a mall or with friends at a mall… check

    Restaurants .. check

    My sister just called yesterday and said she was buying my mom a $160 pair of nikes on , I was like WAAAITTT- MPX got me 5 miles per dollar plus 25% bonus, easy 1,000 miles.. then made her shop through mileageplusshopping for 3 more miles per dollar 😉

  4. You would be much better off just buying a Panera gift card on ebay – you could have easily saved 20-40%, instead of the $2 worth of miles (about 6% of your order)

    • I do see 20% there, but to be honest I just don’t have much interest in the gift card resell thing. I’m sure it works well the majority of the time, but I just don’t want to mess with when it doesn’t. That said, Panera is offering buy $50 get $10 on gift cards right now and there is the Amex Deal for many at Office Depot that gives $10 statement credit on a $50 purchase that could be used to stock up on Panera gift cards. I just didn’t have any on hand right this second. It is always good to remember all avenues though!

  5. I buy pizza from Dominos for my work crew every week. I stack Dominos rewards, use the Mileage Plus app, and pay with my business UA card that gives 2 miles per dollar on restaurants. In tandem, it works out pretty well. I just wish Alaska would come up with a similar app.

  6. This is great: CoffeBean: 5mi; AMC Theaters: 5mi, Starbucks: 2mi. So I can also use these payments and go through a portal?! Thanks, Summer!

    • You can for retailers in something like the United shopping portal, but sometimes gift card payments are disallowed there. It all depends on the retailer. For restaurants though it is a no-brainer!

  7. Great summary and example. I’ve heard of the app, but never took the time to learn the functionality. This is something I will definitely use going forward. Thanks!

  8. So I see staples on the list, but can you buy gift cards through this app? I think probably not since it would be buying a gift card with a gift card, but if you could that would be amazing.

  9. you can triple dip as well… buy online using United Shopping portal, pay using Mileage plus app, use chase freedom 5X category (if available during the quarter, else Freedom Unlimited 1.5X). definitely possible during thanksgiving time at Nike, JC penny, Kohls etc.

  10. I know this is an old post, but I’m looking for experiences of someone using the MileagePlus X App to buy a gift card at a restaurant like Outback, where they usually take physical gift cards to a register to run them. At sit down restaurants like that, do they usually take your phone in order to process the gift card?

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