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United has apparently set itself the goal of being the market leader in shopping miles.
When the airline launched its revamped Mileage Plus Shopping mall late last year, it boasted the following enhancements over the previous miles-for-shopping feature:
- Members can now register a credit or debit card to earn miles at participating in-store retailers and catalogs.
- Mileage Plus Visa credit cardholders are automatically registered.
- More online retailers.
- Earn miles for dining reservations via OpenTable.
- No need for members to register to shop online anymore—they can just login to Mileage Plus Shopping using a membership number and password.
Taken together, the improvements put United's mileage mall a step ahead of similar offerings from American, Delta, and other airlines.
United has now further bolstered the miles-for-shopping superiority of Mileage Plus with the release of its new shopping toolbar.
Once downloaded and installed, the toolbar lets program members know if they can earn miles when shopping at various vendors, alerts them to special offers, and awards one mile for every three Yahoo! searches, up to a maximum of 100 miles per month.
To promote it, United is offering 250 bonus miles to Mileage Plus members who use the toolbar to perform at least one toolbar search or make one toolbar purchase before April 30. The bonus award miles will post to members' Mileage Plus accounts within 10 weeks after the promotion's end date.
Toolbar or No Toolbar?
I make it a point to keep my computer screen as uncluttered as possible, so I'm generally disinclined to install toolbars and other non-essential apps.
While I occasionally earn miles for shopping at online retailers, it's not a high priority.
And really, one mile for every three Yahoo! searches? Yawn.
But it so happens that I need a qualifying transaction to keep my United miles from expiring. And this fits the bill nicely, both for now and for the future.
So I'll download the toolbar and take the 250 bonus miles, thereby extending the life of all the miles in my Mileage Plus account; and thereafter I'll periodically switch from Google to Yahoo! for searches to keep my miles alive.
Your mileage may vary.
Reader Reality Check
Have you used the toolbar? Is it a worthwhile download?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.