Targeted flash sale: Get up to 100% bonus miles with latest United buy-miles promotion
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest promotion.
Many points and miles enthusiasts wouldn’t consider purchasing United Airlines miles, even at a steep discount. That’s because there are so many ways to earn United Airlines miles, and they don’t cost a dime. You can earn any of the huge welcome bonuses that come with the best credit cards for flying United or instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United at a 1:1 ratio.
However, sometimes purchasing miles can make all the sense in the world. Through April 8, 2020 only, United is offering targeted bonuses of up to a 100% when purchasing miles. This deal appears to be targeted, so check your email. If you’ve received an offer like several members of the TPG team did, this deal allows you to buy United miles for as little as 1.75 cents each.
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United often runs varying buy-miles bonuses, so there may be different versions of this flash sale. We’re seeing the following bonus tiers:
- Buy 5,000 to 14,000 miles: Receive 30% bonus miles (2.69 cents per mile)
- Buy 15,000 to 39,000 miles: Receive 50% bonus miles (2.33 cents per mile)
- Buy 40,000 to 87,500 miles: Receive 100% bonus miles (1.75 cents per mile)
To purchase miles, head to the United Airlines Buy Miles page and enter your United loyalty number and password. Just remember United’s restrictions for purchasing miles:
- You can only purchase up to 175,000 miles per account per calendar year (including bonus miles)
- Miles may take up to 48 hours to post to your account
- Purchased or gifted miles don’t count toward United elite status
When should you consider buying United miles?
It’s true, United Airlines miles are some of the easiest to earn. For example:
- United Explorer Card: — 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening (transfers 1:1 to United)
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. (also transfers 1:1 to United) The information for the Ink Business Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
But when a big sale comes along, you may just find that your travel expenses can be reduced by purchasing United miles. TPG valuations estimate United miles to be worth 1.3 cents each. That is significantly lower than the price you’ll pay with this sale — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad deal.
For example, a one-way business-class flight from Atlanta to Istanbul will cost 70,000 United miles on Star Alliance partners like Turkish Airlines. A business-class seat on this route can easily cost $2,500+. But if you were to buy 80,000 miles with this promotion, you’d spend $1,400 — a savings of more than $1,000 — and you’ll have 10,000 miles left to boot (though keep in mind you won’t earn redeemable miles with award tickets).
United no longer has an award chart, making United award flights trickier to book. Fortunately, partner award flight prices remain largely unchanged. It’s still a bad idea to buy United miles speculatively, but if you’ve got a fun business-class flight in mind similar to the above example, or if you only need to top off your United account, this could be the way to go.
Use a travel credit card for your purchase
Note that when you buy United miles, you’re actually making a purchase with Points.com. Transactions through this merchant don’t code as travel, so you won’t earn bonus points with most cards. However, some United cobranded credit cards — such as the United Explorer Card — earned 2 miles per dollar in TPG tests.
You should also consider The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points per dollar on the first $50,000 per year; then 1 point per dollar, terms apply) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited, with 1.5% cash back — which you can also transfer to an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, effectively earning 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar.
The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.
Additional reporting by Carissa Rawson and JT Genter.
WELCOME 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
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- 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.