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United scared the collective frequent flyer community Friday when they Tweeted “A new rewards experience is coming for our MileagePlus members. Find out more soon.” Instantly I started receiving frantic emails, texts and tweets asking whether I thought a huge devaluation was on the horizon. Some people were even ready to start burning their MileagePlus stockpiles! Isn’t it crazy/sad how much we’ve been conditioned to think any airline announcement is a bad thing?!
Well luckily they just announced that the new “experience” is a new partnership Mercedes-Benz USA to give discounts and mileage bonuses on certain cards. Not a game changer, either way, which makes me happy. If you’re in the market for a new Benz, this could be a decent deal, but as always shop around for the best price.
According to the official press release, MileagePlus Premier members can now receive incentives of up to $5,000 when purchasing or leasing most new 2013 or 2014 Mercedes-Benz vehicles. In addition, Premier members will receive 25,000 bonus miles, through September 3, 2013, when purchasing or leasing a new 2014 Mercedes-Benz E- or CLS-Class model. Customers can use the incentive and mileage benefits at Mercedes-Benz dealers across the United States.
To take advantage of the the offers, MileagePlus Premier members should go to united.com/Mercedes, where you can browse available vehicles, select the Mercedes-Benz of your choice, validate your Premier status and print a voucher to obtain the pricing and mileage offers at the dealership. I just tried doing this and it wouldn’t let me log-in saying I wasn’t Premier (which I am Premier Platinum). I’m assuming this is an early glitch, but let me know if you have the same issue. “To access this functionality, you must be a MileagePlus member with Premier status. Please log in through United.com and ensure you qualify for this program.” Lame.
While the lure of up to 25,000 miles or $5,000 in incentives is not enough to make anyone run out and buy a Mercedes if they weren’t already in the market for it, if you are shopping around for a luxury car and trying to decide between models – it could very well be enough to give Mercedes the edge. I conservatively value 25,000 United miles at about $500, so while not a game-changer, it isn’t a completely useless perk- that is, as long as you aren’t paying more through this deal for the car.
However, to get the 25,000 miles, you need to get one of two models. The MSRP for the E-class ranges from $51,900 for the E-350 Sport Sedan to $59,070 for the Cabriolet. Meanwhile, the CLS-class ranges from $72,100 for the CLS550 Coupe to $74,600 for the CLS550 4MATIC.
Other Benz Partnership
United isn’t the first to team up with Mercedes-Benz. Two years ago they launched a co-branded Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum card, which is still one of the best Amex deals out there with 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 spent within 3 months. It comes with all the same perks of the normal Amex Platinum (lounge access, Global Entry rebate, $200 airline rebate, etc) plus:
- A $1000 certificate each year you charge $5,000 in purchases, good toward the future purchase or lease of a new Mercedes-Benz8
- Up to 2,000 excess miles waived at lease-end on leases through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services9
- $100 certificate at renewal of your Card account, good toward Genuine Mercedes-Benz Accessories10
So if you are looking to get a new car now, the United deal will be more lucrative, but if you can accrue the $1,000 gift certificates, that could be an option as well, though I doubt you can stack both promotions.