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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 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.
In the wake of United’s MileagePlus devaluation on November 1, the airline is letting you stock up on miles with a buy-miles bonus. Now through November 20 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). If you’re targeted for the 100% bonus, this will drop the price down to 1.88 cents per mile.
Here’s the offer I received:
- Buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles, get a 25% bonus (3.01 cents apiece)
- Buy 10,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.51 cents apiece)
- Buy 30,000 – 75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.88 cents apiece)
Is It Worth It?
Even after this month’s premium cabin devaluation, TPG still values United miles at 1.5 cents each. If you’re targeted for the 100% promotion, this drops the price per mile down to 1.88 cents each. So, you should have your eyes on one of United’s better-value redemptions in order to justify purchasing miles. Speculatively buying miles isn’t recommended, as miles are a bad long-term investment.
If you’re planning to utilize this promotion, here’s how to do so:
- Visit United’s Buy Miles page.
- Click on Buy Personal Miles.
- Enter your United MileagePlus account number and last name.
- 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 toward 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 1.5% cash back would be the most rewarding choice.
Are you going to buy miles during this promotion?
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 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