How to Maximize Your Miles with the MileagePlus Dining Program [2021]

Want to earn extra rewards for travel when you dine out? Find out how you could earn up to five miles per dollar.
Last updated May 13, 2021 | By Lindsay Frankel
Friends dining at restaurant

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If you love the idea of traveling for nearly free, then it’s time to get serious about maximizing your rewards. In addition to using your credit cards strategically, that means taking advantage of programs that allow you to double up on miles. United Airlines’ MileagePlus Dining program is one such option, offering free membership and rewards for dining out.

Read on to learn more about the MileagePlus Dining program and how to maximize your rewards.

In this article

What is MileagePlus Dining?

MileagePlus Dining is a membership program that provides United miles to members when they spend money at participating restaurants. You earn miles by registering your credit and debit cards, then using those cards to pay for your meal or drinks.

MileagePlus Dining offers 10,000 participating restaurants and bars, so you can be rewarded with United miles for eating out or grabbing drinks at places you’d visit anyway. And you’ll earn miles for every dollar you spend, including tax and tip.

It’s a great program for anyone who dines out frequently and likes to fly United. The best part is that you can earn miles on top of your credit card rewards, so you’ll be doubling up.

How does MileagePlus Dining work?

You’ll need a MileagePlus account to get started, but it’s free to sign up. From there, you can register any credit or debit cards you plan to use when dining out. All you have to do is use these cards at participating restaurants to earn miles.

You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to earn bonuses. For example, new members can earn up to 3,000 bonus miles in the first 30 days. That’s 1,000 miles for your first visit totaling $25 or more, then 500 miles for up to three visits after that. If you have Premier status in United's MileagePlus program, you can also get an additional 500 bonus miles. 

Your membership will expire after 36 months of inactivity, so you only have to dine out occasionally to keep earning miles. But the more you spend, the more you’ll earn. And the miles you earn will never expire.

What are the benefits of enrolling in the MileagePlus Dining program?

With the MileagePlus Dining program, you can quickly rack up United miles for frequenting eligible restaurants. And if you spend on a rewards credit card, you’ll also score points, miles, or cash back in addition to United miles.

You can easily earn 6% back or more, depending on the credit card you use and your membership level. For example, you could earn 3X miles from the MileagePlus Dining program and up to 3X points from a rewards card, like the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card. And with opportunities to score bonus miles, you can take your rewards to the next level.

How many miles can you earn with MileagePlus Dining?

The miles you earn will depend on your membership level. There are currently three membership tiers in the MileagePlus Dining program, and each tier earns a different number of miles:

  • Basic member: Earn 1X miles per $2 spent with a Basic membership.
  • Select member: Earn 3X miles per $1 spent with a Select membership. You can earn Select status if you opt-in to receive emails from MileagePlus Dining.
  • VIP member: Earn 5X miles per $1 spent with a VIP membership. You can earn VIP status by opting in to emails from MileagePlus Dining and dining 11 times at participating restaurants.

While it might be harder to earn VIP status, it's easy to earn Select status. You can simply opt-in to receive emails from MileagePlus Dining. If you elect not to receive email communication, you’ll only get one mile per two dollars spent, so we definitely recommend opting in.

You can earn additional miles for doing things like:

  • Taking surveys
  • Visiting more restaurants
  • Spending a minimum amount when you dine out
  • Adding a credit or debit card
  • Taking advantage of MileagePlus Dining bonus offers

How to find participating restaurants

Finding restaurants that participate in the MileagePlus Dining program is quick and easy. Just enter your ZIP code in the search bar at the top of the MileagePlus Dining website You can also input the name of the restaurant or bar you want to visit to see if it’s eligible.

Alternatively, use the advanced search function; this is a helpful tool if you want to narrow down your choices, especially while traveling.

How to Maximize Your Miles with the MileagePlus Dining Program

With the advanced search function, you can find restaurants within a certain radius of your ZIP code or address, in a specific neighborhood, or even near a landmark. This can be a really useful tool if you’re visiting a museum while traveling and want to find someplace close by to eat, for example.

You can also narrow down your choices by the kind of cuisine, type of establishment, open hours, price, and other features. From there, just click “Search” to see your options!

The best credit cards to earn more MileagePlus Dining miles

Card name Welcome bonus Rewards rate Travel benefits Annual fee
United Explorer Card Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months (plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months) 2X miles on dining, hotel stays, and United purchases and 1X miles on everything else Free first checked bag

Priority boarding

Two United Club one-time passes each year

No foreign transaction fees

$95 (waived first year)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else $300 annual travel credit

Free airport lounge access

No foreign transaction fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases Travel accident insurance

Complimentary concierge service

No foreign transaction fees

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Card Earn a $300 cash bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months 8% cash back on tickets purchased through Vivid Seats (through January 2023), 4% unlimited cash back on dining and entertainment, 3% at grocery stores (excludes superstores like Walmart and Target), and 1% cash back on all other purchases Travel accident insurance

Complimentary concierge service

No foreign transaction fees


One of the best parts about joining the MileagePlus Dining program is that you’ll earn United miles on top of your credit card rewards. Choose your credit card wisely, and you’ll be able to double-dip and earn miles from both sources to put toward your next trip.

One way to do this is by using one of the best airline credit cards, like the United Airlines credit cards, to earn MileagePlus rewards directly. You could potentially earn up to seven miles per dollar if you both use a linked credit card that offers two miles per dollar and become a VIP member in the MileagePlus Dining program. For example, the United Explorer Card offers up to 2X miles per dollar spent. Add that to the 5X miles you’ll get with VIP status, and you could earn 7X miles on certain purchases!

You could also link a travel rewards credit card that offers bonus points on dining purchases and allows you to transfer those points to your MileagePlus account. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you 3X on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and restaurants, and your rewards can be transferred to your MileagePlus account at a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer a Chase card with a lower annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also offers a 1:1 transfer ratio to MileagePlus, though this card offers a slightly lower earning rate of 2X on eligible dining and travel purchases.

Or you could use a card that offers 4% on dining and entertainment, like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, and use that cash back in conjunction with your MileagePlus rewards to book a flight through United.

FAQs about the United MileagePlus Dining program

Are there bonuses for new members?

Yes. New members can earn up to 3,000 bonus miles within the first 30 days. You’ll earn 1,000 miles for your first visit of $25 or more, then 500 miles for up to three visits thereafter. You can also earn 500 bonus miles if you have United MileagePlus Premier status.

How long does it take for MileagePlus Dining miles to post?

Miles will typically post to your MileagePlus Dining account within five days, but it can take six to eight weeks for them to appear in your MileagePlus account.

Is it free to join the MileagePlus Dining program?

Absolutely! It’s 100% free to join the MileagePlus Dining rewards program.

How can I earn more miles through MileagePlus Dining?

Aside from bonus opportunities, the MileagePlus Dining program frequently offers promotional opportunities to earn extra miles when you purchase certain products or services.

How to sign up for the MileagePlus Dining program

If you're a frequent flyer on United and those MileagePlus Dining program perks sound appealing to you, remember that the sign-up process is easy, and it’s totally free to join. There are only a few steps required:

  1. You’ll need a MileagePlus account to get started. If you don’t have one, you can enroll here. You’ll just need basic information like your name, contact information, and email address to join.
  2. Once you have your MileagePlus number and password, you can use it to sign into your MileagePlus Dining account. Enter that information here and click “Sign in.”
  3. To join the program, you’ll need to register one or more credit cards. To do this:
    1. Click the “Account Information” tab
    2. Find the “Registered Credit/Debit Cards” panel on the right-hand column
    3. Click “Add card”
    4. Enter your credit card information
    5. Click “Save”
  4. Use the cards you registered at participating restaurants to rack up extra miles.

Earn those miles

Between your trusty rewards card and your MileagePlus Dining account, you’ll be on your way to earning free United flights in no time. Just remember to choose the right credit card, dine at participating restaurants whenever possible, and keep an eye out for bonus opportunities.

Best Rewards for United


  • Up to 70,000 mile sign-up bonus
  • 2X miles on United purchases, dining, and hotel stays
  • Free first checked bag
  • 2 United Club Passes annually

Author Details

Lindsay Frankel Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.