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Friday, April 22, 2016

Time running out to buy United miles with up to a 75% bonus

So I received an email reminder today telling me that time is running out to take advantage of an offer to receive up to an additional 75% more miles depending on how many I purchase. I'm not sure how long this promotion has been going on or if it is targeted or open to the general public but when I logged into both my husband's account and my own they both have the offer.

Buy the miles you need before April 25, 2016 and you'll receive up to 75% award miles.
The terms of this deal are as follows:

  • Buy 5,000 - 9,000 miles | Get 20% bonus
  • Buy 10,000 - 19,000 miles | Get 40% bonus
  • Buy 20,000 - 85,000 miles | Get 75% bonus

That means if you max out the promotion and buy the full 85,000 miles for $2,975 you'll receive an additional 63,750 bonus miles equating to a total of 148,750 miles which amounts to a cost of exactly 2 cents per mile which isn't great but can make sense in certain situations. This offer is set to expire at midnight on April 25th, 2016 although United seems to run these types of promotions frequently so if you miss out on this one you can always just wait for the next one to come along. And just a reminder that these points do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status and are also processed by a third party so 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 great. However, 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 month. 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 is slightly better than the 2 cents per mile it would cost to purchase in this deal. 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 any award redemption even more valuable.

Bottom Line

While I am in the group of people that believes 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 comes 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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