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Monday, May 9, 2016

New United promo: Buy miles and get a bonus of up to 100% more award miles

So I received an email today from United for a special bonus offer when I purchase United miles for either an additional 50%, 75%, 80%, or 100% extra miles. When I clicked on the link it took me to a page with the maximum 100% bonus offer with my purchase which I am assuming will be the same for everyone as well.

The terms of the deal are as follows:

  • Buy 5,000 - 9,000 miles | Get 20% bonus
  • Buy 10,000 - 24,000 miles | Get 40% bonus
  • Buy 25,000 - 75,000 miles | Get 100% bonus

That means if you max out the promotion and buy the full 75,000 miles for $2,625 + $196.88 tax = $2,821.88 total you'll receive an additional 75,000 bonus miles for a total of 150,000 miles (the maximum number of miles you are allowed to buy in a calendar year) which amounts to a cost of exactly 1.88 cents per mile which is about as good a deal as you are going to get. This offer is set to expire at midnight on May 23rd, 2016 although United seems to run these types of promotions frequently so if you miss out on this one you can always just wait until the next one comes 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 direct 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 you are basically buying them for market value. However, that's not to say you can't find instances in which you can get more than 1.88 cents per mile in value for award redemptions as I was able to do during my trip to Germany in March. 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 1.88 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 the next 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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