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United miles are currently my favorite airline currency. MileagePlus offers one-ways (at half the price of roundtrip), low fees, a robust website for award booking, flexible routing rules and access to Star Alliance partner awards. In fact, when I ranked airline frequent flyer programs last fall, United came in at #1.
However, United miles aren’t as easy to accrue as others – like British Airways miles which are being thrown around like rice at a wedding and Delta, which offers tons of ways to bank boatloads of SkyMiles.
However, today United announced a 40% off sale via Twitter and Facebook that lasts for only a day (through April 25 at 11:59 Central time), though anyone can get in on it. So is it a good deal? Generally not in my opinion, but it can be if you value premium cabin travel.
The maximum amount of miles you can buy is 100,000 and for that amount it’ll cost you $2,259, or roughly 2.3 cents per mile. With 100,000 United miles you can get a roundtrip business class ticket from North America to Europe. So, would you pay more than $2,259 + $100 in taxes for that trip? If so, then buying these miles could save you money- depending on the route and timing, business class trips to Europe can easily cost over $4,000, so this could be a good way to save money- though if you were never going to pay that amount, the real value is much less.
As a transcontinental flyer, I really like United’s business class availability between JFK/Newark and San Francisco and Los Angeles. I just did a search for NYC to San Francisco and there are saver level awards on 28 of the next 38 days. It’s 50,000 miles roundtrip in business class (which I reviewed here), which you can buy with this promotion for $1,128.50. That’s a fantastic price for premium transcontinental business class and with coach prices soaring this summer, it makes these deals more attractive.
I ran the numbers for coach and I don’t see too many opportunities. A 25,000 mile saver coach award within the US would cost $564.38 with this promotion, so unless you are flying on super-expensive routes, it probably doesn’t make that much sense. Same for economy to Europe at 60,000 miles at $1,354.50 – you are probably better off just buying a ticket that earns miles/status.
However, as with all things miles and points, do the math to see if it makes sense for your situation. If you need to top up for that dream award, this promotion might make a lot of sense since United very rarely runs mileage promotions so I don’t expect something more lucrative coming up anytime soon (though I’d love to be surprised!)
- Offer expires April 25 at 11:59pm CDT
- Buy Personal Miles or Give Miles for $21 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% excise tax
- Purchase up to 100,000 MileagePlus Personal miles or Give Miles per account per calendar year
- Credit card will be billed immediately for purchase
- Mileage rates and other applicable fees are subject to change
- Miles are available in increments of 1,000
- Minimum purchase 2,000 miles
- Allow 48 hours for miles to post to MileagePlus account
- Personal Miles and GiveMiles are non-refundable
- Purchased miles do not count toward elite qualification
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards