The Basics

United Wanted to Charge Me $241 To Purchase 1,000 Miles – What?!

Written by Charlie

In a recent United award booking, the United system tried to charge me over $200 for 1,000 miles! That would normally cost $35 so that is a major price hike!

There is a time and a place for purchasing miles – I think we can all agree on that. However, as airlines jump the requirements for premium cabins over and over, the value in purchasing miles is slowly going down (even when purchased at great deals). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that there are some very good prices for international business class at times!

But in this specific instance, United made even their regular purchase price for miles seem cheap when they wanted to charge me over $200 to purchase 1,000 miles!

United Wanted to Charge Me $241 To Purchase 1,000 Miles

Quick Backstory

Whenever I am doing something that I haven’t done in a while, I like to experiment a bit for the blog to see what happens for when people ask me questions.

The other day, I needed to redeem for an award ticket that was 10,000 miles. I only had 4,800 miles in that account so I transferred over 5,000 from Ultimate Rewards.

Yes, I was still short 200 miles but I wanted to see if United was going to offer to let me only purchase 1,000 miles (or maybe just the 200 miles!) since the normal minimum is 2,000 miles. I was not going to purchase them but just wanted to check.

Now The Part About United Charging $241 For 1,000 Miles

I went through the selection process for the flight and went to checkout. Since the flight was just a couple of days away, I knew there would be the $75 close-in booking fee but I was surprised to also see a total of $322 at checkout.

I looked and saw that the huge bulk of the price was nicely wrapped in the words Special Travel Fees. When I moused over those special fees, I was given the breakdown to include $75 for the close-in fee and $241 for purchasing additional miles.

united wanted to charge

I checked to see if there was some huge error and United thought I actually needed all 10,000 miles – nope! They knew I was less than 1,000 miles away. In fact, the math for buying the miles didn’t even come out right.

united wanted to charge

Of course, I did not buy miles! 🙂 Also, I tried this from various browsers and still came out with the same amount. Obviously, this is an error on their side and I seriously hope the newbie customers never went for that!

Have you ever had a price mistake like this with United?

Featured image courtesy ofJorg Hackemann |

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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.


  • Doesn’t United have a bounty program? You could have made some points by flagging the error to them.

  • one can argue either UA’s IT is total crackpot, or they’re having fun with human psychology – the closer you are to reaching a goal/milestone/threshold, the less likely you are to just let it slip away.

    It’s the same reason why those year-end EQM buy-ups or post-new-year status-buy-backs are so ridiculously priced – for them, finding 1 single desperate sucker willing to take the plunge is much more profitable than 10 customers with clear minds.