Travel News

Save Up To 30% When Buying United Miles – But Is It A Good Deal?

Written by Charlie

United is running a promo (as they often do) on buying miles. This particular promo is offering up to 30% off your United miles purchase. It is a tiered promo, so the lowest amount will only give you 20% off (3,000 – 11,000 miles).

Buying United Miles

I have written before about purchasing miles and just the other day about purchasing hotel points. While there are times for both, just because an airline has a “sale” on miles does not mean that it is the best deal around or that you should hurry up and buy. While it may sound like a decent deal, remember that the normal cost for miles is 3.7 cents per mile. That is a lot of money to spend on miles! That means if you were to purchase enough miles to allow you to fly in economy to Europe (60,000 miles), it would cost you $1,580! That is a lot of money for a ticket to Europe. In most instances, you can actually buy a ticket to Europe for less than that – and earn more miles by flying on a paid ticket!

If you do go this route, scroll to the bottom of this post for all the details.

Instead, You Can Purchase Miles For Less!

But, what if you are in a position where you need to buy miles? Before you make the move to buy these miles, check your reservations you already have ticketed with United (if you have any). United has something called Award Accelerator which allows you to purchase a certain amount of miles depending on the amount of miles you will be flying on a current ticket. The rate is 2.3 cents per mile, which still comes in at a better rate than buying United miles through this promo! The downsides are that you need to have a current reservation and that the amounts are fixed. So, for example, one of my reservations is offering 30,000 miles or 45,000 miles. I can actually purchase those amounts more than once, but I cannot purchase a fraction of them – it is all or nothing. However, if you were wanting to purchase miles, this would be the best way to go.

Buying United Miles

To purchase these miles, go to your existing reservation and scroll down to the part of the page that says Recommended Add-Ons and click to get Extra Miles.

Buying United Miles

Purchasing Miles Through The Promo

Here are the details should you desire to purchase miles through the promo (at the higher rate than the Award Accelerator).

  • Website
  • To take advantage of this offer, you must use the order links on this page.
  • Minimum purchase of 3,000 miles required for this promotional pricing.
  • Buy 3,000 to 11,000 miles and receive a 20% discount, or buy 12,000 miles or more for a 30% discount.
  • Miles are available in increments of 1,000 up to a maximum of 100,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 up to a maximum of 150,000 miles.
  • Purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
  • Displayed price includes all discounts and taxes.
  • 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.
  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT (Chicago local time) on April 23, 2014.
  • Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status.
  • All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply.

Which Option Should You Choose?

While I do not think that either option is a great one unless you are wanting to redeem for a very expensive ticket, I do know that there are some people who do need/want to purchase miles. If you do have a current reservation (or can make one) and the amount of miles available to you for purchase is what you are looking for (hint – the longer the distance of the trip, the more miles offered), then go with the Award Accelerator. If you just need a few thousand miles to top off your account for an upcoming award, then I would go with the current promo. I have purchased miles before and it was for that very reason – topping up my account for the award I was about to redeem. But, I will not be taking up either of these methods at this time.

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About the author


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.

1 Comment

  • Unfortunately, for United, this revenue stream will slowly come to a crawl if people are smart and stop buying these, for better or worse, fairly worthless miles. Anyone who buys miles now (and even before the devaluation) is not going to get very much value out of it, as you pointed out. They might as well shut down this avenue of generating $. They should have thought about this prior to destroying their mileage program. What’s more, star alliance availability is so horrible, who would want to buy miles at these worthless rates only to find availability scant. Total pass – always.