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Though the bonus on purchased Alaska Airlines MileagePlan miles came to an end last week, there are several ongoing airline and hotel promotions offering bonuses on purchased points and miles. If you want some opportunities to pad your loyalty account balances, here are the details on each.
Though mileage/points purchases made through Points.com do not count as airline, hotel, or general travel purchases (so they don’t earn category spending bonuses), some of these transactions are processed directly by the airline or hotel, so you can score some extra bonus points by using the right credit card.
10-30% Discount on United Miles
United is offering up to a 30% bonus on purchased miles for select MileagePlus members between now and April 20, 2015. Unlike past promotions, this bonus is not tiered, and instead is a targeted offer that varies from one member to another. Log in to your MileagePlus account to find out whether you’ve been targeted for the promotion, and to see your specific bonus. You can purchase anywhere between 5,000-150,000 miles to receive the extra miles.
United usually sells miles for 3.5 cents apiece, but with this bonus you’ll be paying about 2.45-3.15 cents per mile. That’s still well above my valuation of 1.5 cents apiece for United miles, and it’s also not as good as another recent targeted United promo that offered up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles. I personally wouldn’t take advantage of this promo unless you get the full 30% offer and have a a specific, imminent award you need to book that requires topping up your account.
United miles purchases are processed directly by United, so they should count as airfare purchases and qualify for category spending bonuses if you pay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card, or double United miles if you have a co-branded card like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card.
Southwest 35% Buy and Share Miles Promo
Now through April 22, Southwest is offering Rapid Rewards members a 35% bonus on purchased or transferred points. Southwest normally sells points at 2.75 cents apiece, but with this promo you can buy them for 2.03 cents apiece. Transferring Southwest points normally costs 1 cent apiece, but the 35% bonus brings the cost down to 0.74 cents per point. If your goal is just to mint new Southwest points, the ones you generate by transferring through this promo cost 2.86 cents apiece, so that’s not a good option.
In general, I value Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.4 cents apiece, since you need to redeem 70 of them per $1 in Wanna Get Away fares. However, keep in mind that there’s a potential devaluation coming April 17 that could result in varying redemption rates on certain routes and dates. The details are still vague, so I would wait to add points to your Southwest account until we know more.
If you do need to top up your account for an award, remember that Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you have the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus Business Card. Southwest points are processed through Points.com, so you won’t earn any bonus if you do decide to purchase.
Up to 50% Bonus on JetBlue TrueBlue Points
Now through April 30, 2015, JetBlue is offering up to a 50% bonus on purchased JetBlue TrueBlue points, which you can access by logging into your TrueBlue account. The bonus is tiered as follows:
• Buy/gift 5,000-9,500 points, earn a 20% bonus.
• Buy/gift 10,000-19,500 points, earn a 30% bonus.
• Buy/gift 20,000-29,500 points, earn a 40% bonus.
• Buy/gift 30,000 points, earn a 50% bonus.
If you were to purchase 30,000 points for $886.88, you would receive 45,000 points, bringing the per-point cost down to about 1.97 cents, which isn’t a great deal since you only get about 1-1.7 cents per point in value when you redeem. Ordinarily I’d suggest staying away from this promo, but if you need to top up your account for a specific redemption, it’s something to consider.
TrueBlue points purchases are processed directly by JetBlue, so you can score airline/travel bonuses on these purchases as well.
40% Hilton HHonors Points Purchases Bonus
From now until April 22, 2015, Hilton is offering a targeted bonus of up to 40% on purchased points. This tiered offer allows you to earn either an additional 20% or 40% bonus depending on how many points you buy. To find out whether you’re eligible, log in to your Hilton HHonors account and click through to “Buy, Give & Receive” points.
Here’s how the bonus is structured:
- Buy 5,000-9000 points and get a 20% bonus.
- Buy 10,000 points or more and get a 40% bonus.
If you’re looking to boost your Hilton HHonors account in the next few weeks, this offer may be valuable to you. However, like many of the other promotions, if you’re not eyeing a specific redemption in the near future, I don’t recommend this offer. I value Hilton HHonors points at just 0.5 cents apiece, making them some of the least valuable loyalty points around. Hilton normally charges $10 for 1,000 points; even if you maxed this promotion out by purchasing at least 10,000 points with a 40% bonus, you’d be paying over 0.7 cents per point, so it doesn’t make sense to buy points speculatively in this case.
If you’re looking for other ways to boost your Hilton HHonors account, there are several good co-branded Hilton credit card options. For example, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card earns 10 points per dollar spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio, 5 points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, it comes with a sign-up bonus of 2 free weekend nights after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months. Similarly, the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 HHonors points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, and earns 12 bonus points per dollar spent within the Hilton portfolio. Hilton points are processed by Points.com, so you won’t earn a hotel/travel bonus.
Hyatt Points Sale Through Amex Daily Getaways
This is week 3 of the Daily Getaways deals, and one of the promos on sale is Hyatt points for as little as 1 cent apiece — far below the 2.4 cents apiece Hyatt normally sells them for.
The sale will take place on Friday at 1:00 pm Eastern and quantities are very limited, so if you want to get in on the deal, you’ll need to be quick on the draw. Here are the points packages available:
- 24,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for $260, 95 available
- 30,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for $330, 35 available
- 40,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for $415, 15 available
- 72,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for $775, 15 available
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- 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