Best Point Earning Deals

Buy United Miles W/ Up To 80% Bonus – Less Than 2 Cents Per Mile

United
Written by Charlie

For a limited time, you can purchase United miles for as low as 1.9 cents per mile. Is this a good deal? Find out the details and math right here!

United Airlines is running a 2 day sale on the purchase of their frequent flyer miles. It is a tiered offering with up to an 80% bonus on purchased miles. While it is normally never a good idea to purchase frequent flyer miles without a specific use in mind, this deal is definitely better than most of the United mileage purchase offers so it pays to take a look at the possibilities.

Buy United Miles W/ Up To 80% Bonus

United

See if this United offer for buying miles is worth it to you

United Miles Purchase Link

For two days only, United has the following deal on miles (this offer appears to have targeted deals on the lower thresholds):

My Offer

  • Buy 5,000 to 25,000 miles, get 15% bonus – 3 cents per mile
  • Buy 26,000 to 29,000 miles, get 35% bonus – 2.6 cents per mile
  • Buy 30,000 to 80,000 miles, get 80% bonus – 1.9 cents per mile

Another Offer (Lufthansa Flyer’s offer)

  • Buy 5,000 to 19,000 miles, get 25% bonus – 2.8 cents per mile
  • Buy 20,000 to 29,000 miles, get 50% bonus – 2.3 cents per mile
  • Buy 30,000 to 80,000 miles, get 80% bonus – 1.9 cents per mile

It appears that the thresholds and bonus offers differ on the bottom two purchase amounts but are the same for the top tier. If you were to purchase miles, doing so at the 30K and up levels is really the only good deal anyway so that is okay.

Here are the details of the offer:

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT (Chicago local time) on October 23, 2015
  • Miles are available in increments of 1,000 up to a maximum of 80,000 miles
  • Bonus Miles will be credited to the recipient’s account when the transaction is complete
  • Bonus miles count towards the 150,000 mile annual limit per account
  • Purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year
  • Credit card will be billed immediately upon purchase
  • Mileage rates and other fees and offer terms are subject to change
  • Allow 48 hours for miles to process and post to your MileagePlus account
  • Miles are nonrefundable
  • Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status
  • All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply
  • GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents
  • Powered by Points to purchase United MileagePlus miles. Transaction will appear as ‘Points United Miles’

That last part means that the purchase is processed by Points.com, meaning you will not get a bonus on your United or other airline earning card for purchasing these miles.

Who This Offer Is Good For

United

This offer really only makes sense if you want to fly in premium cabins on United or their partners. The cost to purchase these miles is really right around the redemption value of economy tickets in most situations for international flights (right around the 2 cent mark) plus you will have to pay taxes and fees when you redeem so it is best not to use these purchased miles for economy redemptions (in 99% of the circumstances).

But, there are some good instances where you could purchase the miles at/around the price for economy on that route and fly in business class instead. If you were planning on purchasing the airfare, it would be a good idea to see what the cost would be and consider buying these miles and booking the ticket as soon as possible. It is also a good idea to make sure there is award availability before you go through with it as the miles are not refundable.

Since United has gone to a revenue-based earnings system for award miles, this is the only way you are going to get miles from United (without use of credit cards) at a good value. If you were still doing mileage runs on United, 2 cents per mile is an excellent value for earning – plus you don’t need to leave your couch to earn the miles! But, make sure you have a very good redemption lined up to make this make sense for you.

Looking At The Numbers

To max out the promo would be to earn 144,000 miles at a cost of $2,800. That is a lot of cash but could also get you some good redemptions in premium cabins. For example, one way business class to Europe (on United planes) costs 57,500 miles. This sale would get you 2 one ways and leave you 1,000 miles shy of an economy one way to Europe as well (30,000 miles required). The key words there are one way. If you were planning on doing one way there and then flying elsewhere or flying back on another carrier, then this would be a good deal since one way tickets on almost every airline that flies to Europe are very expensive. This deal would give you the business class tickets at a pre-redemption tax and fee price of $1,118 each and the economy ticket at a cost of $583. All in all, that is not bad but make sure you have priced out all other options.

Of course, there are some sweet spots in United’s award calendar as well and these miles could help with that. One particular sweet spot is the North Asia – Oceania routes. A one way in those regions (which covers a lot of territory) costs only 30,000 in business or 40,000 in first class.

Other Ways To Earn

Of course, it is always going to be cheaper to buy gift cards from office supply stores with your Chase Ink card(s) and then transfer those Ultimate Reward points to United. Since office supply stores allow you to earn 5X UR points, it is very easy and cheap to rack up a lot of those miles and points in a hurry. With the current deal at Office Max stores with Visa gift cards, you purchase a card with $500 on it and (for now) pay a $3.95 fee. Using a Chase Ink card, you will earn 2,519 Ultimate Reward points (which can be transferred 1:1 to United). That will cost you a very low .15 cents per point – vs paying 1.9 cents per mile in this deal!

Summary

As always, look at the math for your own earning and redeeming plans. This 2 day sale from United on their miles can give you the miles at a cost of just under 2 cents per mile, but you need to have some really good redemption plans at the ready. The structure of the bonus is not helpful for those just looking to top up so take that into consideration as well.

You can get United miles even cheaper by purchase gift cards at office supply stores using your Chase Ink card(s) so make sure you are not overlooking that method!

HT: Lufthansa Flyer

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

3 Comments

  • You are forgetting that, if paying cash for a flight, you earn miles – this can easily be worth 10-20% of the cost (or even more with status/promos/fare class etc). So now the 1.9 cpm becomes 2.09cpm with taxes as AAflyer points out, and then becomes around 2.4 cpm with the opportunity cost of miles earned.

    • Thanks! I had planned on putting that in – and walked away for a minute when I got to that part. 🙂 That happens sometimes, I get bounced from a thought and forget to go back to it.
      But, the miles earned (unless you are talking EQMs) would be totally dependent on the airline you credit to since they would not be worth a ton on United (depending on the price).

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