Get up to a 100% bonus when you buy points and miles

Jun 21, 2020

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

The travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of aircraft are parked due to low passenger loads, while hotel occupancy in the U.S. and abroad has plunged to historic levels. This has left airlines and hotel groups scrambling to find new income streams in order to secure fast cash. One of these ways is selling airline miles and hotel points at a discount or bonus — this gives the airline an immediate cash injection as travelers are essentially prepaying for future travel at a discount.

We’ll walk you through all of the current airline mile and hotel point sales that we consider good deals. But first, let’s discuss whether or not buying miles during the global coronavirus outbreak is a good idea.

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In This Post

Should I buy points and miles now?

While these deals sound great on paper, there are a couple of things to consider before taking advantage of point sales. The first is that buying points and miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s much better to earn points and miles for free through travel rewards credit card welcome bonuses.

However, buying points and miles during good promotions can make sense for those who have tapped out their credit card options and can get high value from their points and miles. That said, we only recommend buying points or miles when you have an immediate plan to use them; otherwise, you’re left open to devaluations.

But here’s the thing: Now isn’t the time to travel, given the state of the coronavirus outbreak. This means that you’re buying miles that you’ll likely use for travel in late 2020 or early 2021. However, there’s no guarantee that travel will be safe by this time, so make sure you understand the cancellation policy of the airline or hotel group you’re buying miles from before buying rewards.

In addition, many airlines and hotel groups are on rocky financial ground right now. We’ve already seen one major airline go bankrupt — when this happens, your miles could be deemed worthless depending on the outcome of the bankruptcy. To play it safe, only purchase points and miles from airlines and hotel companies that you think will make it through the pandemic without filing for bankruptcy or otherwise going insolvent.

With that out of the way, here are the buy-points and miles promotions currently available, sorted by those ending first:

Buy airline mile promotions

United MileagePlus

United is offering a targeted buy miles promotion that’s offering up to an 85% bonus on miles purchased. Those targeted for this offer must purchase at least 25,000 United miles to get the highest bonus. That’s where the cost drops to 2.06 cents per mile. That’s not as good as the 1.89 cent cost during the previous buy-miles promotion.

This is also significantly higher than TPG’s valuation of 1.3 cents per mile, so you should only buy miles with this promotion if you need to top-up for an award or if you can score a discount over a paid ticket.

Verdict: Only worthwhile if you can get more than 2.06 cents per mile in value.

Buy hotel points promotions

Hilton Honors

Hilton is currently offering a 100% bonus on Hilton Honors points purchased by July 15. You’re eligible for this bonus when you purchase at least 10,000 points, bringing the price down to just 0.5 cents per point. This is 0.1 cents per point lower than TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point, and can be an excellent way to save on expensive hotel stays.

Verdict: Good for scoring a discount on Hilton stays.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott is offering a 60% bonus when you buy 2,000 or more Bonvoy oints. In addition, the hotel group has doubled the number of points you can buy this year, so you can purchase up to 160,000 points across two transactions.

Buying Marriott Bonvoy points can be useful for booking high-end Marriott properties like the W Maldives at a steep discount, so make sure to run the numbers and see if purchasing points makes sense for your next Marriott stay.

Verdict: Good deal for booking high-end Marriott properties at a discount.

Which credit card should you use to buy miles?

Most of these buy-point/mile promotions are processed through rather than by the hotel or airline directly. Unfortunately, that means that you won’t generally get bonus rewards with a card that has a travel category bonus. Some of the best cards that fit this bill include The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 in purchases per year; then 1x, giving you a 4% return based on TPG valuation) or Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back/1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for a 3% return based on TPG valuation).

If you’re in the midst of completing a credit card spending requirement, buying miles can help you get it done faster. You can check out our guide to the best cards for everyday spending for additional suggestions.

The only exception to this rule is American miles — the airline reportedly codes mileage purchases as airfare, so you’ll want to use a credit card that earns bonus miles on travel for the highest returns on your mileage purchases.

Additional reporting by Victoria Walker.

Featured photo by Ryan Petterson for The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • 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®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
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15.99%-22.99% Variable
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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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.