Get Up to a 75% Bonus When Buying United Miles

Jun 19, 2017

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

If you’re finding yourself a little short of a redemption, you might be interested in United’s new buy miles bonus. Now through July 3, you can purchase United MileagePlus miles with up to a 75% bonus. 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, with the 75% bonus, this promotion will drop the price down to 2.15 cents per mile.

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United is known for sometimes doing targeted promotions, so we checked around the office to see what offers everyone got. We found that there are two versions of this offer. The only difference is found when buying 24,000 miles or less:

  • Buy 5,000-10,000 miles (25% bonus) at 3.01 cents per mile
  • Buy 11,000-24,000 miles (50% bonus) at 2.51 cents per mile
  • Buy 25,000-85,000 miles (75% bonus) at 2.15 cents per mile

Or:

  • Buy 5,000-24,000 miles (35% bonus) at 2.79 cents per mile
  • Buy 25,000-85,000 miles (75% bonus) at 2.15 cents per mile

One nice thing about both of these offers: The 75% bonus kicks in at just 25,000 miles. This makes it great for making smaller mileage purchases. Usually, you have to buy a much larger package of miles to maximize these buy-miles promotions.

Is It Worth It?

In his latest valuations, TPG pegs United miles at 1.5 cents each. This promotion drops the price per mile down to 2.15 cents each. So, it wouldn’t seem to make much sense at first. However, there are certainly cases where it’d make sense.

Thai 747 First Class Review
Purchase enough United miles for nine hours in this product for under $1,000.

Take Thai Airlines’ spectacular first-class product. On a recent trip, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig scored a nine-hour ride in this cabin for just 40,000 United miles. You can purchase 43,750 miles through this promotion for $941. In comparison, the cost to actually buying this flight: $2,715.

Domestically, TPG testing shows you can get upwards of 3.25 cents per mile on business-class award flights between NYC-LAX or 2.53 cents per mile on short-haul flights.

Either way, one thing is for sure: You’re going to want to have a specific use for the miles in mind before purchasing miles. Speculatively buying miles isn’t recommended, as miles are a bad long-term investment.

United June 2017 buy miles promo chart

If you’re planning to utilize this promotion, here’s how to do so:

  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, and bonus miles count towards the 150,000 mile annual limit.
  • 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 valuations, the Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express’s 2x Membership Rewards on the first $50,000 per year; then 1x thereafter or Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points would be the most rewarding choice.

Are you going to buy miles during this 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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