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Update: The rates for partner coach now appear to be capped at 44K (up from 33K previously, but down from 45K yesterday) and for partner business at 88K (up from 77K previously, but down from 88K-103K yesterday).
United’s hidden award chart below has been updated.
Originally posted on 5/17:
United has devalued award rates on most flights to Europe without notice.
That’s disappointing, but hardly a surprise. US airlines still have internal award charts, but they no longer publish them so that they can devalue without needing to provide any notice.
For that reason, I have been writing for well over a decade to accumulate bank points and not airline miles whenever possible. That way when an airline devalues, you aren’t stuck with that airline’s miles and have other options to choose from. You can open airline cards for the signup bonus, but you everyday cards should earn flexible points over an airline card.
I guess the real surprise here is that we’ve made it 3 years since the last major United devaluation. The other surprise is that based on my research, the major devaluation only seems to affect flights between North America and Europe, and that it doesn’t affect first class pricing.
Other regions are mostly unchanged, though there are fluctuations of up to 3,000 miles on some routes. For example Air Canada economy awards between the US and Canada have climbed from 14K to 16.5K miles and business awards went from 30K to 33K miles.
The much bigger devaluation post-COVID is that there are fewer saver awards available across the board and that standard award pricing continues to climb to absurd levels, but that’s the case for all airlines.
To their credit, United does make many more saver awards available to their cardholders and elite members.
For United flights to Europe, a one-way saver economy award was previously 30K miles, but now they range from 30K-40K based on the route and date. A business saver award was previously 60K miles, but is now 80K miles.
For partner flights to Europe, a one-way saver economy award was previously 33K miles, but now they range from 33K-45K based on the route and date. A business class saver award was previously 77K miles, but is now 88K-103K miles. A first class class saver award remains 121K miles.
That’s a bad devaluation, but it doesn’t seem like a massive devaluation to me given that it’s not systemwide. It’s certainly nothing close to what Delta regularly gets away with!
Then again, maybe this is just United testing the waters to see if spending on their credit cards will go down because of this? Delta has found that they can constantly devalue their miles and people will still continue spending on their credit cards. If you do use a United card for everyday spending, you should stop now. It’s probably only a matter of time before other awards are devaluated as well and airlines need to see that there is a negative effect of these devaluations.
Flights within a month of booking are still subject to a mileage surcharge ranging from 0-4,000 miles each way. In general you should always book one-way travel to lower those surcharges and maintain maximum flight flexibility.
Researching dozens of routes and hundreds of dates, here is United’s current unpublished saver award chart that I put together:
30K-35K Premium Business
35K-40K Premium Business
50K-60K Premium Business
|Northern South America
|Southern South America
|Japan and Oceania
|Australia and New Zealand
Of course it’s worth noting that you’re often much better off using other partner award miles for booking flights.
There are exceptions of course, as expanded saver award space for United cardholders and elites can only be booked with United. Plus while United’s awards are refundable for free at any time before departure, other airlines can charge up to $200 for award changes or cancellations.
For example a round-trip business class on United between Newark and London would cost 160K United miles, plus $331 in absurd UK departure passenger duties, which are somehow supposed to help climate change. (Pro tip, depart from somewhere in Europe besides for London to avoid these).
You can transfer miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United (1:1 ratio) instantly.
The same business class round-trip is 120K Lifemiles. Points transfer instantly (1:1 ratio) from AMEX, Capital One, or Citi. Transfers from Marriott (60K:25K ratio) can take 2-20 days
The same business class round-trip is 120K Air Canada miles. Points transfer instantly (1:1 ratio) from AMEX, Capital One, or Chase. Transfers from Marriott (60K:25K ratio) can take 2-20 days.
The same business class round-trip is 90K Turkish miles. Transfers from Capital One and Citi (1:1 ratio) are instant. Transfers from Marriott (60K:25K ratio) can take 2-5 days.
The same business class round-trip is 88K ANA miles. ANA requires round-trip travel, while all of the other airlines above allow one-way travel at half the round-trip rate. It can take 1-2 days to transfer points from AMEX to ANA (1:1 ratio) and transfers from Marriott to ANA (60K:25K ratio) can take 2-20 days.
AMEX cards with transferable Membership Rewards points include:
- AMEX Blue Business Plus
- AMEX Platinum Business
- AMEX Gold Business Card
- AMEX Platinum Consumer Card
- AMEX Gold Consumer Card
- AMEX Green Consumer Card
- AMEX Everyday Preferred Consumer Card
- AMEX Everyday Consumer Card
If you, a member in your household, or an authorized user has one of the following Chase cards, you can transfer points into miles:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred has an 80K signup bonus ending soon, earns 2.1 points per dollar on travel, 3.1 points per dollar on dining, streaming, and online groceries, has a $50 hotel credit, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.3 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($95 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a 60K signup bonus, earns 3 points per dollar on dining/travel, has a $300 travel credit, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.5 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($550 annual fee with $300 travel credit). Read more here.
- Chase Ink Preferred has a 100K signup bonus and earns 3 points per dollar on shipping, advertising, and travel, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.25 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($95 annual fee). Read more here.
Chase no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card has a 75K signup bonus and earns 5 points per dollar on cable, TV, telecom, cellular, office supply stores, and gift cards from office supply stores, plus 2 points per dollar on dining and gas ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Ink Unlimited has a 75K signup bonus and earns 1.5 points per dollar everywhere ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Freedom Flex has a 20K signup bonus, plus 5 points on rotating categories, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a signup bonus offering 3 points per dollar on up to $20K of spending in your first 12 month, afterwards earn at least 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
If you or a friend has one of the following Citi cards, you can transfer points into miles:
- Citi Premier has a 60,000 point bonus for spending $4,000 in 3 months, 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, travel agents, groceries, gas, and dining. $95 annual fee. Read more here.
Citi no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:
- The Citi Double Cash card offers 2% cash back or 2 points per dollar spent everywhere that can be transferred into ThankYou points. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles. No annual fee. Read more here.
- The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5 points per dollar on up to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle. This is marketed as 5% cash back, but will actually come in the form of 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent! Eligible categories include Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs, and Live Entertainment. You will also get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No annual fee. Read more here.
- The Citi Rewards+ Card offering 25,000 points for spending $1,500 in 3 months. This card can’t transfer points on its own, but can transfer points if you have one of the Citi cards above. This card automatically rounds up rewards earned on every purchase to the nearest 10 points, meaning you earn 10 points on a $0.50 Amazon balance reload. Earn 2 points on $6K in annual spending at supermarkets, and a 10% points rebate when you redeem points, up to a 10K points rebate per year. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles and get a 10% points rebate on transferred or redeemed miles. No annual fee. Read more here.
Capital One cards with transferable points include:
- Capital One Venture X Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 in 3 months, plus earn 2 miles per dollar spent, $300 annual travel credit, 10K anniversary bonus miles, Global Entry/Pre-Check, Capital One lounge access, Priority Pass Lounge membership, and more. Read more here.
- Capital One Venture: Earn 75,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 in 3 months, plus 2 miles per dollar spent. Read more here.
- Capital One Spark Miles: Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus 2 miles per dollar spent.
- Capital One Spark Cash Plus Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles, plus 2 miles per dollar spent, convertible into transferrable miles with any of the 3 cards above. Read more here.
Marriott cards with transferable points include:
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Consumer Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express®Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card
Bottom line, shop around before you book your flight!