Current Buy Miles Promos – 30% United Discount, 30% American Bonus

by on May 16, 2013 · 14 comments

in American, Buy Miles Promotions, United

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United and American are both currently offering promotions on purchased miles, so I thought I would take a look at each promo and whether they are worth considering.

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Now through 11:59pm CT on May 20, 2013, United is offering up to a 30% discount on purchased United miles. Here’s how it works, MileagePlus members will save 30% on the purchase of 15,000 ore MileagePlus award miles or more, or save 20% on the purchase of 5,000-14,000 miles. You can buy miles for yourself, or you can gift miles to others. You can buy up to 100,000 miles per calendar year.

Purchased miles usually cost 3.7625 cents each, but with this offer purchases of 5,000-14,000 miles cost 3.01 cents per mile, and purchases of 15,000 miles cost 2.63 cents per mile.

American Airlines purchase miles bonus.

American Airlines is also offering a bonus on purchased miles.

So let’s say you wanted to purchase enough miles for a roundtrip domestic economy ticket. Those 25,000 miles would cost you $658.44. Not worth it at all since you’d be hard pressed to find a domestic economy ticket that costs that much that you’d be able to redeem a saver level award for. If you were to buy 100,000 miles, you’d pay $2,633.75. That’s enough for a roundtrip business class ticket from North America to Europe, but unless you have a specific redemption in mind that you know you are going to use these for, I would suggest steering clear until there’s another buy miles bonus or discount at a higher percentage.

Also, compared to the frequent 100% bonuses on buying miles from United’s Star Alliance partner Avianca (the most recent one ended April 30), where you can purchase miles for as low as 1.5 cents each, this isn’t a bargain at all.

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American Airlines is also offering a bonus on purchased miles of up to 30% now through May 17, 2013. You’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles if you purchase 20,000-29,000 miles; 8,250 miles if you purchase 30,000-39,000 or a 12,000 mileage bonus if you purchase 40,000 or more miles.

You can buy up to 60,000 miles per account per calendar year. This is only good on a single transaction of 20,000 or more miles.  Also remember that you pay a 7.5% tax and a $30 processing fee.

So to take an example, if you were to buy the maximum 40,000 miles, you’d end up with 52,000 miles for a total cost of $1,100. That works out to 2.11 cents per mile.

By comparison, AA miles usually cost between 2.3-2.95 cents each, so you’re not getting an amazing deal here but it is a decent discount. However, that $1,1000 is still cheaper than some 50,000-mile redemptions like a one-way business class ticket to Europe, which can run in the range of $2,000-$3,000, or a roundtrip transcontinental business class ticket, which is going for over $4,000 for much of May.

However, neither of these offers is that exciting, even compared to buy miles promos these airlines have offered in the past. If you are close to an award ticket and need a few extra miles, then this is something to consider, but I generally wouldn’t buy these miles just to buy them unless I had a specific award available and put on hold.

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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  • SPG

    I bought the American miles with my capital one business card – I get 3 points per $ for the travel purchase and then I was able to redeem the purchase with my reward points I have been accumulating – so the miles were free! Plus I earned an additional 2600 points for my purchase. The 37,500 miles I purchased were more valuable than the approx 860 cap one points IMO.

  • jeremy

    So the miles may have been free but that’s because it sounds like you used accumulated miles to pay for them.

  • SPG

    I don’t understand what you are pointing out – all cc points/miles are accumulated via expenditures. My accumulated Capital One points – which are redeemable at a 1000 points per dollar – so 860 Cap one points (redeemable for $860 on only travel purchases) are less valuable than what the 38,250 American miles will get me. (I actually bought 38,250 miles not 37,000.) No money out of my pocket.

  • SPG

    After reading your post I understand where the confusion lies. Cap One’s marketing – no black outs, anytime points – are because they redeem at 1000 pts per $. So to get a biz class American ticket to london on capital one pts I’d need about 200-250,000 pts (that means I spent almost that amount of money to achieve that many pts, of course there are a few bonuses thrown in here and there.) But using those points to buy miles means I can spend much less for the same ticket. Does that make sense? One might say.. why don’t you have an AAdvantage credit card instead – I do as of a month ago, and I use it for everything. But I have had the Cap One from the start of my business 8 years ago, and I had some pts on it, this was a great way to use the pts IMO. I still use the Cap One when traveling because there are no exchange rate fees – which all the AA cards have.

  • El Duder

    You can pretty easily buy United miles for 2.5 cents through UR, assuming you have a premium chase card. So no, this ain’t a great deal at all.

  • Matt B

    huh? scratching my head on this one, maybe it’s too late for my brain to be working

  • SPG

    $50,000 spent on a cap one card = 50,000 points, which is redeemable toward a $500 travel purchase. 50,000 AAdvantage miles are redeemable for a $2,000+ biz class ticket. AA miles are more valuable than the Cap One pts. My original post was to say… if someone out there in internet land has capital one points, you can make better use of the points by buying miles rather than redeeming toward a travel purchase. This is a great way to use points – especially with the 30% bonus – something a Cap One card holder may not have thought of before.’

  • sha457

    Not to make more confusion, but my daughter and i shared a capone credit card for a year and made approx 2,000$ purchases every month for a year and in the end only got $1,000 in cash for capone. The capone has not been as good to me as the citi cards and other cards for that matter, amex, chase etc. and more specifically SPG. In six months between these cards, churning them that is, we managed to acquire enough AA points to fly RT First Class to Europe and back.

  • LlamaOfDoom

    The advantage of UA over US is that they allow one-ways, making for more flexible travel. They’re also cheaper in specific categories (China-Japan in Y is 20k miles on UA and 25k on US- however, in C it’s 40k on UA and 30k on US so…)

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  • Aegistar

    I just got something in the mail from United about buying miles:

    20% when you buy less than 25,000
    40% when you buy 25,000 or more.

    Expires June 30, 2013

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  • Michelle

    would you be able to share the promo code for this offer?

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