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Flash Sale: Up to a 67% Bonus When You Buy United Miles

Feb. 07, 2017
5 min read
Flash Sale: Up to a 67% Bonus When You Buy United Miles
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one option for growing your account balance. While it’s increasingly difficult 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 an airline.

Just two weeks after its last promotion expired, United is offering another bonus when you buy MileagePlus miles. You're going to have to move quickly to take advantage of this one: Now through February 9, you'll get up to a 67% bonus when purchasing or gifting United MileagePlus miles.

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, this promotion will drop the price down to just 2.25 cents per mile if you purchase at least 30,000 miles.

You can utilize this flash sale to stock up on United miles.

Here are the sweet spots of this promotion:

  • 5,000 + 1,000 bonus miles (20% bonus) for $188 (3.14 cents per mile)
  • 15,000 + 6,000 bonus miles (40% bonus) for $564 (2.69 cents per mile)
  • 30,000 + 20,100 bonus miles (67% bonus) for $1,129 (2.25 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.
  3. Enter your United MileagePlus account number and last name.
  4. Select the number of miles you want to buy and 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. Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles.
  • Members can only purchase 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
  • 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?

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Should you buy miles with a 67% bonus?

In his latest valuations, TPG pegs United miles at 1.5 cents each. However, if you’re looking to redeem for business or first-class awards, you can certainly get better value 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). Redemption on partner airlines — such as Thai Airways — can provide even more value.

Generally, though, it’s going to be difficult to find many award options that top the purchase rate. If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards, transferring UR points to United is another appealing option. 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 — even at the best rate of 2.25 cents each. Plus, you’re likely to have the miles immediately after transferring instead of having to wait for “48 hours for miles to process and post to your MileagePlus account.”

If you’re short on Ultimate Rewards points, you can still get a 100,000-UR point sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you apply in branch by March 12. If you're looking for a card with less than a $450 annual fee (even though it's totally worth it), you can also consider the 50,000-point sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which has a waived annual fee for the first year.

Bottom Line

Although a 67% bonus sounds appealing, United’s standard buy miles rate is so high that it takes a significant bonus to make a mileage purchase worth considering. Unfortunately, this promotion isn't going to be right for most travelers. However, if you're looking to top off your account for a high-value redemption, the ability to get as little as 50,000 United miles at a pretty good rate can make sense.

H/T: Loyalty Lobby

Will you be taking advantage of this promotion?

Featured image by There's still time to bring that elite status home in 2016.