By Jim Donovan: United Airlines has launched what it’s calling the Mileage Plus Gift Card Exchange. MileagePlus frequent flier members will now be able to convert the remaining value of unused or partially used retail gift cards into award miles. The program includes gift cards from more than 60 major retailers including Barnes & Noble, The Home Depot, Gap, and Pottery Barn.

After logging into your MileagePlus account, you select the retailer and enter your gift card information. You’ll receive an offer based on how in-demand the gift cards are. You’re not obligated to accept the offer, but if you do, United verifies the transaction and then converts the balance on the gift card to awards miles and deposits the miles into your account.

The amount of award miles offered in exchange for the gift card includes a 7.5 percent federal excise tax and gift cards with balances less than $25 don’t qualify, and you can’t combine cards to get to the $25 threshold.

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