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Friday, March 11, 2016

Time running out to buy 40% discounted United miles

United is currently running a promotion to buy United miles at a discounted price based on how many miles you purchase. The max discount is up to 40% and the breakdown is as follows:

  • Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles, save 20%
  • Buy 15,000 – 49,000 miles, save 30%
  • Buy 50,000 – 150,000 miles, save 40%

That means that if you max out the promotion you could buy up to 150,000 miles (max amount allowed per calendar year per account) for $3,150 which amounts to a value of 2.1 cents per mile which isn't great but can make sense in certain situations. The offer is set to expire on March 14th, 2016 although United seems to run these types of promotions frequently and I have seen much better offers in the past such as a 75% bonus back in September 2015 and 50% bonus back in August 2015. Just a reminder that these points do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status and are also processed by a third party so also do not count as United purchases.


So should you take advantage of this offer? The answer depends on if you have a specific redemption in mind that would make it worthwhile. Most would say that United miles are worth somewhere between 1.4-2 cents per mile so the offer in and of itself is not that valuable. That's not to say you can't find instances in which you can get more than 2 cents per mile in value for award redemptions as I was able to do during my trip to Germany last week. The cheapest round trip flights from Indianapolis (IND) to Nuremberg (NUE) are about $1,400 with prices going up as high as $2,900 in some instances for economy but I used Chase Ultimate Reward points to transfer to United to buy each saver level award ticket for 60,000 miles each giving me a value of roughly 2.33 cents per mile which isn't too bad. And if I had elected to fly first class instead the prices increase exponentially to anywhere from $9,000-$11,000 per round trip ticket making my redemption even more valuable.

Bottom Line

While I am in the group of people that think that you shouldn't buy points speculatively unless you have a specific redemption in mind this deal can make sense in certain circumstances. Otherwise, I'd wait until a better promotion came along. And remember, you can always transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United as an option at a 1:1 ratio or Starwood points at a 2:1 ratio but there are probably better options available to use your Starwood points.

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