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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 September 12 you can purchase United MileagePlus miles with up to a 100% 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 100% bonus, this promotion will drop the price down to 1.75 cents per mile.

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United is known for sometimes offering targeted promotions, so we checked around the office to see what offers everyone got. We found that there are at least three versions of this offer:

  • Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles, get a 25% bonus (2.8 cents apiece)
  • Buy 15,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.33 cents apiece)
  • Buy 30,000 – 49,000 miles, get a 75% bonus (2.0 cents apiece)
  • Buy 50,000 – 75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.75 cents apiece)

Or:

  • Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 25% bonus (2.8 cents apiece)
  • Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.33 cents apiece)
  • Buy 30,000 – 49,000 miles, get a 75% bonus (2.0 cents apiece)
  • Buy 50,000 – 75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.75 cents apiece)

Or:

  • Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 25% bonus (2.8 cents apiece)
  • Buy 20,000 – 49,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.33 cents apiece)
  • Buy 50,000 – 75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.75 cents apiece)

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 1.75 cents each. So, it wouldn’t seem to make much sense at first. However, there are certainly cases where it’d make sense — and it’s certainly more appealing than a maximum of 75% bonus offer.

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.

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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 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?

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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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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.