United Airline 65000 Reward Miles for making an urgent family visit affordable

Beautiful Life

The Story

   In one uneventful evening in mid-May (one month ago), Isa chatted with her mom in Taiwan via Face-time as usual, and learned that her (last alive) brother in New York suddenly felt very ill one week earlier and diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  The uncle is only 55 years-old, not retired yet, still hiking and fishing frequently several months ago.  We were shocked; one month earlier we just face-timed him to listen about his hiking activities these days.  We contacted our cousins regarding medical details and verified his sickness.

My mother-in-law made a request to fly to US immediately.  The challenge is:  last-minute booking of summer flight was quoted as $4000 for one round-trip flight ticket, instead of the more familiar $1200 including $300 surcharge fee.

We tried United Airlines reward ticket online booking, expecting that a last-minute round-trip ticket would require about three times United miles similar to the price difference ratio.  The good news is that, we were able to redeem one available round-trip United Airline ticket leaving a week later, from Taiwan to Albany, NY, with three transfers in-between, using the regular standard 65000 United miles and USD $50 fee.  There is no extra $300 surcharge fee via United Airline flight. We saved $3800. Earlier, I redeemed one Eva ticket using Eva Air miles and one Cathy Pacific ticket using Asia miles, but had to pay extra USD $200-$300 surcharge fee.

My mother-in-law is very grateful.  She is already in Baltimore, Maryland now.  We feel grateful about the helpfulness of United reward miles.

How to earn 65000 United Miles? The easiest way is …
  1. Apply Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card, spend $1000 within 3 months to earn 30000 United miles or 55000 if you receive a targeted promotion via post mails. (Minimum spending to earn bonus miles is trending up, from one-transaction requirement to $1000 this year. I started seeing $2000 spending requirement last week.)
  2. Apply Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa card, spend $3000 within 3 months to earn 40K Ultimate Reward points.  Transfer from Ultimate reward points to United Airline miles is 1:1

Join United Dining Program to keep the United miles from expiring.  One meal at a participating restaurant will extend the expire date by another 12 months.  This option is better than Asia Miles or Eva Air Miles's policy which does not offer expiration extension option.

  • Do not apply Chase Sapphire Preferred or United MileagePlus unless your FICO score is at least 730. See How to improve FICO score and From 690 -> 750 posts.
  • If you own these Chase credit cards in the past or present, re-applying will not receive those bonus points again.
  • 65000 United miles is good for one economy-class round-trip Asia flight. Check United Miles Reward Chart to identify how many reward miles you need to travel to your destination.

A Second (but harder) way to earn 65000 miles is …

  1. Earn United miles while flying United Airline partners.  Non-Star Alliance partner takes more effort (my experience with Eva Air).
  2. Apply Chase Freedom card with 10000 Ultimate reward bonus miles. Chase Freedom card has 5% rotational category rebate every quarter.  It is a card worth keeping and earning x5 points.
  3. Apply Chase Sapphire (non-Preferred) card with 10000 Ultimate reward bonus miles.
  4. Apply Chase Sapphire Preferred card, pay the annual membership fee $80, and transfer the points from #2 and #3 into your United Airline membership account.
  5. Convert Marriott Reward points to United Airline miles.  Not recommend if you enjoy staying at Marriott Hotel, as conversion rate to United is 3:1 maximum.  Apply Chase Marriott Reward Premier Visa Signature Card with 70000 bonus points.  Marriott allows free points transfer between spouses.
  6. Sometimes, promotion from Fidelity is available; earn 50000 United miles for $100,000 deposit.

I usually don't fly United Airline.  Why earn United Miles then?
  • Award miles is handy to expand a traveler's option.  If price is not a concern, then award miles may not worth to invest the time to earn
  • United Miles can be redeemed for non-UA flights, hotels and car rental; it becomes your vacation currency like Hilton HHonor points, Southwest Rapid Reward miles.  As shared in this post, good savings for any future last-minute flight, Monterey-Carmel trip, Napa trip, Las Vegas trip.  
  • Earned bonus reward miles are tax-free.
  • For special arrangement, call United Airline Customer service phone number: 1-800-864-8331. Press "0", then "0" again. Say "Yes" if your reservation is domestic, or "No" if international.

Next …

The uncle currently stays in John Hopkins Hospital, awaiting cancer treatment, trying all possible cures.

Two days ago, I cancelled via online the planned early September getaways to Napa, recovered my 120,000 Hilton HHonor points without penalty, and booked an early September (Labor Day weekend) Southwest flight using Isa's Southwest Rapid Reward points to Baltimore, Maryland, where John Hopkins Hospital is located.  It will be a family reunion trip to spend time with Uncle and his family.

Cancel Hilton Hotel reservation without penalty

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