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Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to add to your account balance. While it’s increasingly harder to earn miles from flying, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without stepping foot on a plane — whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining rewards programs. If these methods leave you short of your travel goals, you can also purchase miles directly from an airline.
United’s last buy-miles promotion ended just yesterday (October 31), but the airline is already offering another chance to buy miles with a bonus. Now through 11:59pm CT on November 4, you’ll receive a 50% mileage bonus when you buy at least 5,000 miles.
Unlike the last promotion which had a variable bonus, this one is fixed at 50% no matter how many miles you buy. At best, you’ll be paying 2.5 cents per mile, which is significantly more than the 1.5 cents per mile at which TPG values United miles. Clearly, this isn’t the best deal, but if you have a specific redemption in mind and just need a quick mileage boost, this might be worth considering.
Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:
- Visit United’s Buy Miles page.
- Click on Buy Personal Miles or Give Miles (both are eligible for the bonus).
- Log in to your United MileagePlus account.
- Select the number of miles you want to buy/give and click Continue.
- Fill in the required information to finalize your purchase.
Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing United miles apply to this promotion, including the following:
- You must purchase at least 5,000 miles to take advantage of this promo but can only purchase 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
- Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 miles and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 150,000 miles.
- Miles may take up to 48 hours to post to your account.
- Purchased or gifted miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status.
Note that the purchase is processed by Points.com, so you won’t get any travel category bonuses from this purchase. Make sure to use the best non-bonus category credit card for your situation. Based on TPG’s point and mile valuations, the Chase Freedom Unlimited‘s 1.5x Ultimate Reward points would be the most rewarding choice.
Is It Worth It?
United prices business-class flights to Europe on its aircraft at 57,500 each way. Since there are no fuel surcharges added onto the cost, you just have to cover some minimal taxes and fees. That being said, you’d still have to pay almost $1,438 to purchase enough miles to cover the mileage requirement for a one-way flight to Europe — definitely not the greatest deal out there.
While everyone loves “bonus miles,” this 50% promotion isn’t the best. After all, United ran a 100% bonus promotion pre-award changes. If you have a specific redemption you’ve been eyeing and are just a few thousand miles short, this promotion could make sense for you. However, in most cases it’s really not a great deal, especially considering the likelihood that the airline will be running other promotions that are much more lucrative before 2016 is over.
Are you planning on buying miles during this promotion? If so, where are these miles taking you?
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
- 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