MileValue is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Note: Some of the offers mentioned below may have changed or are no longer be available. You can view current offers here.

Anyone without United status is charged a hefty $75 fee to book an award within 21 days of departure. There are two tricks to reduce or eliminate this fee.

Trick 1- Transfer your Ultimate Rewards to a Status-ful spouse’s United account

Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to your United account or your spouse’s. If your spouse has status, transfer there.

If you transfer your Ultimate Rewards to a spouse’s account who has Premier Platinum or higher status and book from his account, the $75 fee will be waived.

As a bonus, future change and cancellation fees will be waived too, so you don’t need to worry about yesterday’s tricks for reducing or eliminating those.

Trick 2- Book an award 22+ days out and change it to your real award — perhaps

If you don’t have Ultimate Rewards or a friend with Platinum+ status, I might at least be able to save you $25, using one of yesterday’s tricks.

Take a look at United’s award fee chart:

Ordinarily non-elites are charged $75 for booking an award ticket within 21 days of departure. Non-elites are charged the same $75 if they try to change an award within 21 days of departure.

Theoretically that means that there is no advantage to booking a dummy award and changing it to your real award if you want to make a last-minute booking. But I think doing just that might save non-elites $25.

Here’s my reasoning. Look at this award change:

This is a within-21 day change, so there should be a $75 fee. That fee is not listed where it would be in a normal award search, under the taxes/fees link. Instead, we just see the $50 “Change Fee” listed where it was yesterday when we were basically cancelling itineraries.

I have Silver status with United, so that’s what I should be charged to make a within-21 day change: $50. This possible trick doesn’t save me anything.

But I think it might save non-elites $25 to book within-21 day itineraries this way. The reason is that the $50 charge listed in the screen shot above is exactly the same $50 fee that was charged to non-elites yesterday when they should have been charged $75.

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a non-elite United account, so I can’t check whether this trick works and saves $25 for close in bookings. But if you can check, let us know.

Either way, the next time you want to make a within-21 day booking on United without status, it can’t hurt to make a dummy booking then immediately try to make the change to your desired award. At worst, you’ll break even. At best you’ll save $25. (Don’t forget if you try to make a change, and the award space you wanted has disappeared, you can cancel a United award within 24 hours of booking it for free.)


Save $75 per ticket on last minute bookings by transferring your Ultimate Rewards to a friend with high-level United status and having him book.

If you don’t have Ultimate Rewards or friends, you can try my as-yet-unproven second trick to save $25 on a last minute booking by booking a distant-future dummy award and replacing it with your real desired award.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.