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United’s Offering Discounted Awards to Brazil and Chile

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United just launched an award sale to several destinations in South America, dropping the round-trip economy rate from 60,000 to 45,000 miles. These discounted awards are available to cities in Brazil and Chile, including Rio, São Paulo and Santiago. You can fly from anywhere in the US or Canada (excluding Hawaii). Flights must be booked and flown by November 30, 2015.

This sounds like a good deal on the surface, but keep in mind that flights to South America have been quite inexpensive recently, with fares occasionally available for less than $500 round-trip.

In the example below, you can fly from Newark to São Paulo for 45,000 miles plus $60 in taxes:

Newark to São Paulo for 45,000 miles.
Newark to São Paulo for 45,000 miles.

United’s advertising a reasonable paid fare on the checkout page. For $812, you can pay for the flight and earn miles for your travel — nearly 10,000 premier-qualifying miles with the round-trip flight. Note that you’ll earn redeemable miles based on the fare paid ($712). In this case, earnings will range from 3,560 miles (general member) to 7,832 miles (Premier 1K).

TPG values United miles at 1.5 cents each. For this award flight, you’d redeem miles worth $675, plus $60 in taxes for a total of $735. If you paid for the $812 flight, you’d earn miles worth between $53 (general member) and $117 (Premier 1K), so in this example, it’s more or less a wash.

If you’re looking to book a last-minute flight or cash fares are otherwise high on your travel dates, it might make sense to redeem miles at this discounted rate, but with relatively low airfares, this deal isn’t quite as good as it seems.

H/T: Running with Miles

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