Ends today: Targeted members can score up to 100% bonus United miles

5d ago

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If you’re looking for extra United MileagePlus miles for an awesome award, you’re in luck. United is running a flash sale for buying miles. Through 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Dec. 2, targeted MileagePlus members have the opportunity to get up to 100% bonus miles when buying miles. If you’re targeted for this offer, you can buy United miles for as low as 1.88 cents each through this promotion.

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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. Instead, it’s 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. This offer ends Jan. 9, 2020.

Or business owners can earn up to 100,000 bonus United miles through the United Explorer Business Card — broken up as 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months plus another 50,000 bonus miles for spending a total of $25,000 in purchases in the first six months.

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 as 2 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.

Note that this sale comes just after United eliminated its award chart. However, there’s still value to be found on United or on United’s partners. 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

There are (at least) two different versions of this flash sale. Targeted members can get a 100% bonus through December 2:

  • Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 30% bonus (2.89 cents per mile)
  • Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.51 cents per mile)
  • Buy 35,000 – 87,500 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.88 cents per mile)

Other members are only getting a 85% bonus, meaning that you can effectively buy up to 173,900 miles at the rate of 2.03 cents per mile. Checking around the TPG office, everyone who received the discount option received the following offer breakdown:

  • Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 30% bonus (2.89 cents per mile)
  • Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles, get a 50% bonus (2.51 cents per mile)
  • Buy 35,000 – 87,500 miles, get a 100% 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
  • 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. 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.

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
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% 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

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