This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 3.13.42 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 3.30.55 PM

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?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

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.