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Now through February 17, United is offering a discount of up to 40% on purchased miles. As usual, it’s a tiered bonus that depends on how many miles you purchase. You must buy at least 15,000 miles and when you buy 15,00-39,000 miles you get a 25% discount, and when you buy 40,000 miles or more, you get a 40% discount. You can buy up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
United miles normally cost 3.5 cents apiece plus 7.5% tax, but if you get the 40% discount, you’ll be paying closer to 2.26 cents per mile. To put that in context, if you were to buy 50,000 miles for a roundtrip domestic business class award, you’d be paying $1,130, which might be worth it if you were going to book those super-expensive transcontinental routes. However, if you bought a ton of miles and used 25,000 of them for a roundtrip domestic economy award, it would be like paying $565 for that ticket, so I would suggest really crunching the numbers here, not least of all because United’s award mileage devaluation recently went into effect and your miles won’t get you nearly as far these days – especially on United’s partners.
Also beware per the conditions of the sale that miles can take up to 48 hours to process. On the positive side, unlike many other mileage purchases, these ones are processed directly by United, so they should count like airfare purchases and qualify for category spending bonuses if you use a card like the Sapphire Preferred, Premier Rewards Gold or Arrival.