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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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

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More Things to Know
  • 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
Intro APR
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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