Get up to 85% bonus United miles with new promotion

Oct 16, 2019

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

If you’re looking for extra United MileagePlus miles for an awesome award, you’re in luck. United just launched a new sale for buying miles. Now through Nov. 5, MileagePlus members have the opportunity to get up to a 85% bonus when buying miles. When factoring in the 85% bonus, you can buy United miles for as low as 2.03 cents each through this promotion.

When should you consider buying United miles?

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.)

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Buying miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s obviously much better to earn United MileagePlus miles through credit card sign-up bonuses.

If you’re looking for good options, the United Explorer Card is offering a limited time bonus of up to 65,000 bonus miles; 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first three months. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first six months your account is open. Or you can earn 50,000 bonus miles for signing up for the United Club Card and spending $3,000 in the first three months. The information for the United Club 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.

As with most airlines, buying United miles at full price never makes sense. United’s standard rate for buying miles is 3.76 cents each after factoring in taxes. There’s no reason to buy miles at that rate when you can generate United miles for as little at two cents each through this technique.

If you’re just short of a redemption, remember that you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio.

However, with a big enough buy-miles bonus, buying United miles can make sense for the right redemptions. That’s generally going to be for international first or business-class flights or when you can maximize the Excursionist Perk.

Just note that this sale comes as we move ever closer to United eliminating its award chart — gutting the value of United miles for United award flights starting Nov. 15. However, there can still be value to be found on United until then or on United’s partners beyond that date. Just make sure that you have a plan to redeem miles for a high value before you buy them through a promotion like this.

Details of this promotion

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). However, with the 85% bonus, you can effectively buy 55,500 to 173,900 miles at the rate of 2.03 cents per mile.

Although the 85% bonus seems to be widely available, the exact bonus structure may vary from member to member. Here’s the offer that I received:

  • Buy 5,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 40% bonus (2.69 cents per mile)
  • Buy 30,000 – 94,000 miles, get an 85% bonus (2.03 cents per mile)

How to buy United miles

If you’re planning on utilizing this promotion, here’s how to do so:

  1. Visit United’s Buy Miles page.
  2. Click on Buy Miles Now.
  3. Enter your United MileagePlus account number and password.
  4. Select the number of miles you want to buy.
  5. 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:

  • Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 94,000 miles (for this particular 85% bonus offer)
  • Members can only purchase 175,000 miles per account per calendar year, and bonus miles count toward the 175,000-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 elite status.

Which credit card should you use?

We put this exact question to the test. Since the purchase is processed by Points.com, you won’t earn a travel category bonus for it on most cards. However, some United cobranded credit cards — such as the United Explorer Card and the United Club Card — earned 2x United miles on the purchase.

At the time of our tests, the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card earned 3x Ultimate Rewards points on this purchase — netting the best 6% return on your purchase based on TPG valuations (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year). However, recent purchases have only earned 1x point per dollar.

As a result, you’ll want to use a card like The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 per year; then 1x) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited‘s 1.5% cash back — which can be transferred to a Ultimate Rewards-earning card for an effective 1.5x UR point earning.

Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.


This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about United’s best “buy miles” promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest offer. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older deals below.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United Explorer card recently got some enhancements like 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays and a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee credit (up to $100). The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited time offer! Earn up to 65,000 Bonus Miles.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for 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 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.