Unlike any other U.S. airline, United Airlines has a very useful application for iOS and Android that could help you earn miles by spending as you normally would. The app is called is MileagePlusX. You link your credit card(s) to the app and when you’re ready to purchase at a listed retailer or restaurant, it immediately generates a gift card for payment. So if you wanted to reload $10 on your Starbucks app, you would earn 20 United miles (in addition to the credit card points) by using the MileagePlusX app to purchase the gift card. The MileagePlusX app syncs really well with the Starbucks app so when the gift card is generated, it gives you an option to launch it via the Starbucks app. It’s noteworthy to mention that the current quarterly 5x reward category for Chase Freedom is restaurants. Starbucks happens to fall into this category so if you link the Chase Freedom with the MileagePlusX app and purchase the $10 gift card, you would get 20 miles from United for using the app, in addition to 50 points from Chase (5 points x $10) for utilizing the Chase Freedom in the 5x quarterly category. That’s 70 points for a $10 reload you might have done anyway.
When you go to a retailer like DSW, you can enter the exact amount ($49.21 for example) once the cashier tells you the total and a gift card for that specific total will be generated. Some retailers like Amazon require you to purchase in increments of $5. United’s award redemptions are never lower than 12.5k miles per one way ticket so getting an award ticket exclusively from using the app would take a while. But if you’re a few hundred to a few thousand miles short or you have United miles that are expiring and need some type of activity to push back the expiration date, this app would be very useful.