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Liquidate Gift Cards for United Miles: A Good Deal?

by on February 15, 2012 · 11 comments

in Continental, Shopping, United

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United is teaming up with popular gift card liquidator Plastic Jungle to give their MileagePlus members the option to redeem certain retail gift cards (of $25 or more in value) for United miles.
I think this is a really interesting concept – it gives people the option to swap out a currency that they may not use or value (gift card) and turn them into miles. The conversion amount, while not great, is roughly the same as buying miles directly from United. If you redeem a gift card, they’ll give you roughly 27 miles per dollar of value, which is the same price that you can purchase them directly from United (3.7 cents each). So if you ever needed to buy United miles (I’d first recommend buying Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2.5 cents a piece and then transferring them to United), but otherwise I’d buy a gift card through a cash back/Eshopping mall for a kickback and then liquidate it for miles.

That being said, I’d probably rather just sell the gift card on Plastic Jungle for cash and then use that cash to buy a ticket that would earn me miles and elite miles, but I understand everyone’s situation is different. If you are close to an award and don’t have any Chase points to transfer and don’t have any purchases or flights planned, then this gift card liquidation could make sense. At the end of the day, whatever helps you achieve your travel goals is what matters – not whether some blogger tells you it’s a good deal or not.

I recently wrote how I personally rank United miles higher than any other domestic program, so there is definitely the ability to get more in value from United miles than your gift card – especially if you redeem for international first and business class awards.

Overall, this isn’t a game changing new enhancement to the MileagePlus program, but it is an interesting option that might make a lot of sense for some people.

FAQ:

I don’t see my miles. Whom can I contact?

It takes up to five business days for the cards to be verified and the award miles to be deposited into your account. If you don’t see the miles after five business days, please email [email protected].

What gift cards do you accept?

Here’s the list of cards we accept: view list. However, please note we do not accept merchandise credits, cards with a balance less than $25, or cards with expiration dates.

Do you accept partially used cards or uneven balances?

Yes, as long as the balance remaining on the gift card is $25 or more.

Can I combine gift cards to reach the $25 minimum?

No, unfortunately our system doesn’t accommodate the exchange of any single card with a value less than $25.

Do I need to mail in my gift card?

No, you don’t need to mail in your card. Once you see that your miles have been deposited into your MileagePlus® account, the gift card is no longer valid.

Can I exchange more than one gift card?

Yes, you can exchange more than one gift card. To trade in more than one, click the “Add another gift card” link.

When will I see the award miles in my account?

We’ll validate the remaining balance on all gift cards you’ve exchanged, and you should see the award miles in your account in about five days.

What do you mean there is no balance on my card(s)?

Before the miles are posted to your account, we reverify the balance with the retailer. At the time of verification, there was no balance on the card for us to convert to miles.

I’m going to travel tomorrow; can I get my miles sooner?

Unfortunately, no. Due to the verification process and posting of miles, it is not possible to speed up the request.

Can I get better rates/miles for my cards or is it the same for all gift cards?

Our rates are determined by market pricing, which is affected by several factors. In order to find the rate for your card, please enter your gift card information to receive an offer. You are under no obligation to sell your card, and we will not retain your gift card information if you do not confirm your sale. Please note that the mileage offer you see displayed for the same gift card of the same value may change from time to time.

I see fewer miles in my account than what you offered.

This could happen because the balance of the card decreased from the time we made the offer. If you believe this was in error, please contact [email protected].

Where do I see my miles posted?

Please log in to your MileagePlus account on united.com.

I changed my mind. How do I get my card back?

We’re sorry; once you’ve accepted the offer, the sale is final.

How many miles do I get for my card?

In order to find the miles for your card, please go to ualmiles.com/mpgiftcardexchange. Enter your gift card information to receive an offer. You are under no obligation to sell your card, and we will not retain your gift card information if you do not confirm your sale. Please note that the mileage offer you see displayed for the same gift card of the same value may change from time to time.

Do you accept merchandise credits?

At this time we do not accept merchandise credits.

Do you accept cards with expiration dates?

No, unfortunately, we cannot accept gift cards that have an expiration date.

Disclaimer: The responses below are 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 posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Claudepaquin

    “If you redeem a gift card, they’ll give you 3.7 miles per dollar of gift cards, which is the same price that you can purchase them directly from United.”

    Say What? That’s 27 cents per mile! Did you make a typo?

  • Marzman77

    I have the same question…

  • Anonymous

    Yes.. it was a typo. Its 3.7 cents per mile so it would be 27 miles per dollar redeemed in gift card value.

  • Robert

    Interesting arbitrage opportunity here: United’s shopping mall allows you to earn miles for purchasing gift cards (https://www.mileageplusshopping.com/shopping/gc___Gift%20Cards%2006_rebated.htm?rows=25#mn_sectSpecOffersFull). The best one right now is a magazines.com gift card which gives you 12 miles / $1. So you can buy a $100 gift card (and receive 1200 miles), then sell that gift card on Plastic Jungle for 27 miles / $1 and receive (2700 miles). That makes 3900 miles for $100 or 2.56 cents / mile.

    Of course, magazines.com gift cards may not be accepted on Plastic Jungle, but there are plenty of other gift cards from more mainstream stores on sale from United, all with some extra iles available.

  • Kurt

    Too bad this didn’t come out a cpl weeks ago when you could have paired with it the BA Nordstroms promotion. 36 BA + 27 United would have made for a nice combination.

  • Ben

    Have you used plastic jungle? The reviews on reseller ratings aren’t the best. 1/10. I wouldn’t mind using them if I could get my cash or miles 100% of the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666387552 Mark Schroeder

    honestly, that pay out is awful. you might be better off trading with a friend, or selling for cash directly with plastic jungle. http://www.giftcardgranny.com will show payouts by store by gift card provider/buyer

  • Ben

    Thanks for that site!

  • Pingback: Updates From the World of Miles and Points 2/19 | Indulge the Wanderlust()

  • Noah

    so, i just got an email with an offer to earn a 40% bonus when liquidating gift cards…any thoughts?

  • Keira Martins

    It was nice knowing about the deals. Thanks for sharing

    liquidation pallets

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