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With the previous version of United’s website, it was possible to put tickets on hold by using “the PayPal trick.” Essentially, you’d choose the option to checkout using PayPal and then just neglect to do that. With the new site, this functionality is now built in — any award tickets can be put on hold, as long as you don’t have the required number of miles in your account.
To place an award on hold, simply search for the itinerary as you normally would, then click the Reserve button. I created a dummy Asiana first class booking, which requires a whopping 120,000 miles each way — though it’s hardly a United sweet spot, premium-cabin availability is generally fantastic on this route.
As the site explains, the award won’t be ticketed until you have the required number of miles. Of course, United wants you to purchase the miles you need, but you can also transfer points instantly from Chase Ultimate Rewards earned with your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Freedom or Ink Plus Business Card.
Once you have the necessary miles, you can easily complete the purchase process and your award will be ticketed. Although awards can only be held until midnight the following day, you’ll still have plenty of time to transfer points from Chase, which you’ll of course only want to do when you know there’s availability for the flights you’d like to book.
H/T: View from the Wing