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How to earn miles with the United MileagePlus Dining program

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.

In addition to earning bonus rewards on dining through credit cards, there are numerous ways to maximize your returns by combining multiple earning sources. Similar to using a shopping portal for extra rewards while shopping online, airlines often provide dining rewards programs that allow you to double your earnings when dining out.

In this article, we will explore all the essential details about the United MileagePlus Dining program.

United MileagePlus Dining overview

United MileagePlus Dining lets you earn United MileagePlus miles when visiting participating bars, restaurants and clubs. These rewards are in addition to what you’d normally earn from spending on your credit card.

MP Dining homepage

You’ll need to register and link at least one credit or debit card before you can start earning miles. You’ll earn bonus miles when you pay your bill at participating establishments with a linked card.

You can link up to 12 cards to United MileagePlus Dining, but you can only link each card to one dining rewards program. For example, you can register your Chase Sapphire Reserve with United MileagePlus Dining or AAdvantage Dining, but not both.

Related: How to redeem miles with the United MileagePlus program

How to join United MileagePlus Dining

As long as you have a United MileagePlus frequent flyer account, you can join United MileagePlus Dining at no cost via this link. A new member bonus is often, but not always, available when you join and then dine with the program.

To join, log in to the United MileagePlus Dining website with your United MileagePlus information and fill out some basic personal information, including your name and contact details. You’ll be good to go once you link at least one card.

Related: Flights, credit cards and more: How to earn miles with the United MileagePlus program

How to earn miles through United MileagePlus Dining

Food and drinks at a restuarant

Three different earning rates are available depending on your status in the United MileagePlus Dining program. Basic members earn just 1 mile for every $2 spent, a rather poor return. However, all you need to do to upgrade from Basic to Select membership is to opt in to receive email communications. Doing so boosts your return to 3 miles for every dollar spent.

You’ll become a VIP member if you dine out more frequently and can complete 11 qualifying transactions in a calendar year (in addition to opting in to receive email communications). VIP members earn 5 miles per dollar spent beginning on their 12th transaction. You’ll keep VIP status for the year you earn it, plus the entire following year, as long as you remain opted in to email communications.

As you may have picked up, electing to receive email communications is very important. If you didn’t opt in during the sign-up process, you’ll see a prompt on individual restaurant pages reminding you to do so. No one likes getting unnecessary marketing emails, but it’s worth doing when there’s such a good return for receiving them.

Here’s an overview of the earning structure:

  • Basic members: 1 mile per $2 spent if you opt out of email communications from United MileagePlus Dining
  • Select members: 3 miles per dollar spent if you opt in to email communications from United MileagePlus Dining
  • VIP members: 5 miles per dollar spent if you opt in to email communications from United MileagePlus Dining and have already completed 11 qualifying transactions in the current or previous calendar year (you’ll start earning at the VIP level on your 12th qualifying transaction)

Related: How to get maximum value from the United MileagePlus program

How to use United MileagePlus Dining

There are two different approaches you can take when it comes to dining rewards programs. The first is to “set it and forget it.” Register for your airline or hotel dining program of choice, link your cards and wait for the rewards to appear if and when you dine at participating venues.

The other approach is seeking out eligible restaurants near you to maximize your earnings. You can search for restaurants near your city or ZIP code and even use the built-in map view to find the ones closest to you. You can also search for specific types of cuisine, like sushi or pizza, and filter by price.

MP Dining restaurants in 20016

Once you select a restaurant, you can read reviews and ratings, check hours and confirm that the restaurant offers benefits every day of the week. Not all locations do, like this one, so be sure to double-check this.

MP Dining restaurant

Which cards to use with United MileagePlus Dining

One of the best things about dining rewards programs is that they don’t change how your transactions are billed. As such, you can stack these bonus United miles with the rewards you’d normally earn from your credit card spending.

So, you’ll want to use a card that offers strong rewards on dining — the same cards you’d use if you were eating at a restaurant that didn’t participate in a dining rewards program. Here’s what you can expect to earn when using some of the best cards for dining:

While you might assume it’s a good idea to use a United card with the United MileagePlus Dining program, you have no incentive to do so. To earn the most United miles possible, use the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for all your dining purchases, as Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio.

Related: How to travel more for fewer miles with United’s Excursionist Perk

Bottom line

United offers its customers many additional ways to earn miles beyond flying, including the United MileagePlus Shopping portal, the United MileagePlus X app and United MileagePlus Dining. If you dine out and are interested in earning United miles, it’s worth setting up an account with United MileagePlus Dining now so you can automatically earn bonus miles any time you dine at a participating restaurant.