United’s All Day Recess Promotion Adds New Bonus Retailers

Jul 28, 2015

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Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen explores a great new promotion from the United Airlines shopping portal, which is offering elevated earning rates, spending bonuses and more.

Last week, I wrote about the lucrative All Day Recess Sweepstakes and Promotion being offered through United MileagePlus Shopping. While the entire promotion runs until mid-August, a number of popular online retailers are offering increased earning rates on select dates. Last week saw improved rates for Macy’s, Staples and several others; in this post, I’ll share the next roster of online stores offering even more bonus United miles for this coming week and/or weekend, and explain how you can maximize your purchases with each one.

First, here’s a quick recap of the promotion. As I wrote last week, All Day Recess consists of three different offers:

  1. A sweepstakes;
  2. A tiered one-time bonus for hitting certain spending thresholds;
  3. Increased earning rates at select merchants.

Hopefully you’ve registered for the promotion and signed up to receive marketing emails from MileagePlus shopping, earning you a total of 6 entries into the sweepstakes (1 for registering and 5 for signing up for emails), which offers a grand prize of 100,000 United miles plus $2,500 in cash (there are also three first prizes of 20,000 miles apiece). You’ll also receive another entry for every purchase you make through the portal during the promotion (up to 5 per day).

In addition, you’ll earn a one-time bonus based on the cumulative amount of money you spend (not counting shipping and handling, taxes, gift cards and certain other products) during the promotion period, which ends at 11:59pm ET on August 12, 2015. Here are those bonuses:

  • Tier 1 — Spend $125, earn 500 bonus award miles;
  • Tier 2 — Spend $600, earn 1,750 bonus award miles;
  • Tier 3 — Spend $1,500, earn 4,000 bonus award miles.
Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 9.10.54 PM
Many popular retailers will be increasing their earning rates on select days during the All Day Recess promotion.

New retailers

The big news today is the announcement of additional retailers offering increased earning rates; in fact, some of them are offering up to 5 times the number of miles you’d normally receive when going through the United portal. Here’s what’s on tap this week:

Merchant Old Earning Rate Promotional Earning Rate Offer Dates
Office Depot 1 mile/$ 3 miles/$ 7/28 – 7/30
Sears 2 miles/$ 10 miles/$ 7/31 – 8/1
Neiman Marcus 2 miles/$ 6 miles/$ 7/31 – 8/2
Walmart 1 mile/$ 3 miles/$ 7/31 – 8/2
Bed, Bath and Beyond 1 mile/$ 4 miles/$ 7/31 – 8/2

As you can see, each one is only valid for 2 or 3 days during the promotion, and the terms state this explicitly:

Increased earning opportunities are for a limited time only and at the discretion of each individual merchant. Miles earned through shopping generally post within 5-7 business days.”

As a result, make sure you’re shopping at the right time in order to be credited the right number of miles for your purchases. Given the significant increase in earning potential, it’s worth planning your purchases for those specific dates, and I (personally) find these retailers to be far more interesting and useful than the ones from last week. No offense to Bose, Finish Line or the Microsoft Store, but my wife and I shop at these newly featured retailers much more regularly.

Sears is one popular merchant that’s offering extra United miles during the All Day Recess promotion.
Sears is one popular merchant that’s offering extra United miles this weekend.

Analysis

Let’s take a look at three of these retailers using the same assumptions I made last week: i.e., you purchase exactly $1,500 worth of merchandise and make those purchases during the 2-3 window to take advantage of the increased earning rates. The calculated rate of return is again based on TPG’s most recent valuations, which peg United miles at 1.5 cents apiece.

1. Office Depot

  • Bonus earning rate: 3 miles per dollar spent
  • One-time bonus: 4,000 miles
  • Total miles: 3 x $1,500 = 4,500 miles + 4,000 miles = 8,500 miles
  • Value of miles: $127.50
  • Return: 8.5%
  • Best credit card:The Ink Plus Business Card from Chase earns 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at office supply stores ($1,500 = 7,500 points); these are worth an additional $157.50, which would raise your overall return to 19%.

2. Sears

  • Bonus earning rate: 10 miles per dollar spent
  • One-time bonus: 4,000 miles
  • Total miles: 10 x $1,500 = 15,000 miles + 4,000 miles = 19,000 miles
  • Value of miles: $285
  • Return: 19%
  • Best credit card: At a non-bonus merchant like Sears, you’re best off using a card that offers solid everyday earning like the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, either of which would add over 2% to your rate of return.

3. Walmart

  • Bonus earning rate: 3 miles per dollar spent
  • One-time bonus: 4,000 miles
  • Total miles: 3 x $1,500 = 4,500 miles + 4,000 miles = 8,500 miles
  • Value of miles: $127.50
  • Return: 8.5%
  • Best credit card: Same as Sears

Again, the potential return at these retailers is impressive, and hitting $1,500 in purchases shouldn’t be too hard given the wide array of products each one carries. Also, keep in mind that the one-time bonus is awarded for your cumulative spending during the promotion, so you don’t necessarily have to spend $1,500 with any single retailer in order to earn it.

Boosting your earnings even further

Keep in mind that using a United co-branded credit card (like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card or United MileagePlus Club Card) will offer you extra points for making purchases through the MileagePlus shopping portal. Details are not provided online, but the site does indicate that cardholders “are eligible for increased mile offers from participating stores.” These earnings are in addition to the regular 1 mile per dollar you’ll earn for every dollar spent on the card. I’ve heard that these additional bonuses can be up to 50% higher than the “regular” earning rates for non-cardholders, so be sure to check out these offers by logging into your MileagePlus account on the portal before clicking through to a merchant’s site.

Bottom line

I try to use a shopping portal every time I make an online purchase, so I’m always happy to see such a competitive offer. Unlike promotions we’ve seen from competitors in the past, the All Day Recess offer from United MileagePlus Shopping gives you both one-time bonuses and higher earning rates at key merchants. While MileagePlus has undergone some significant devaluations over the last few years, there are still plenty of sweet spots in the United award chart. Be sure to check back next week for the third (and final) set of merchants with increased earning rates!

Will these new merchants lead you to take advantage of this new promotion?

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.

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