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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 become harder to earn miles from flying, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying — 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 the airline.

Good news if you missed out on United’s most recent buy miles promotion and need a few more miles for a redemption. Now through November 28, you can purchase United MileagePlus miles and receive up to a 50,000-mile bonus.

Get up to a 50,000 mile bonus when buying United miles.
Get up to a 50,000-mile bonus when buying United miles in the next two weeks.

The regular price for buying United miles is 3.76 cents per mile ($35 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax). But, for the next two weeks, you can effectively save up to 33% thanks to this new buy miles promotion.

Here are the sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:

  • Buy 5,000-9,000 miles (20% bonus): 3.14 cents per mile
  • Buy 10,000-24,000 miles (35% bonus): 2.79 cents per mile
  • Buy 25,000-100,000 miles (50% bonus): 2.51 cents per mile

And, here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:

  1. Visit United’s Buy Miles page.
  2. Click on Buy Personal Miles or Give Miles (both are eligible for the bonus).
  3. Log in to your United MileagePlus account.
  4. Select the number of miles you want to buy/give and click Continue.
  5. 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 2,000 miles 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, 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 valuations, the Chase Freedom Unlimited‘s 1.5x Ultimate Reward points would be the most rewarding choice.

Is It Worth It?

During this promotion, you can buy 37,500 miles for $941 — this is the smallest number of miles you can buy with the 50% bonus.
During this promotion, you can buy 37,500 miles for $941 — this is the smallest number of miles you can buy with the 50% bonus.

In his latest valuations, TPG pegs United miles at 1.5 cents each. That said, depending on how you spend miles, you can definitely get more value than this out of these miles. For example, you can get up to 3.25 cents per mile in business class between Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX). Still, it’s going to be difficult to find many award flight options that top the effective 2.51 cents-per-mile purchase rate you’ll get for maximizing this promotion.

If you find yourself, say, 40,000 miles short of a redemption, you can top off your account for just $1,016 (27,000 + 13,500 bonus) — compared to the $1,505 standard cost for 40,000 miles. Even so, if you’ve got Chase Ultimate Rewards, transferring UR points to United would likely still be a better value. Taking TPG’s miles and points valuation as a guide, utilizing Ultimate Rewards valued at 2.1 cents each would be better than buying United miles at 2.51 cents each. Plus, you’re likely to have the miles immediately after transferring instead of having to wait for the purchased miles to be deposited.

Bottom Line

While 50,000 bonus miles sounds great, United’s typical buy miles rate is so high that it takes a significant bonus to make a mileage purchase even worth considering. This 50% promotion is one of the least appealing offers we’ve seen from the airline recently — compared to the 75% bonus promotion United just offered in October and up to a 100% bonus promotion in June. With that said, if you need just a small amount of miles to top off your United balance and don’t have any Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer in, this promotion could help you save up to 33% off the normal price.

Will you be taking advantage of this promotion?

Featured image courtesy of United.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

Apply Now
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 on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.