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United has just announced its latest mileage sale, allowing MileagePlus members to purchase miles with up to a 100% bonus now through January 31.
If maximized, you'll effectively pay 1.75¢ per mile—which is the best rate we've ever seen United sell miles. Still, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea to take advantage of this offer.
United Buy Miles Key Terms
- Promotion is valid through January 31, 2021, 11:59 p.m. CST
- Minimum purchase is 2,000 miles
- To receive a 100% bonus, you must purchase at least 40,000 miles
- The bonus percentage depends on the number of miles purchased
- United typically limits mileage purchases to a maximum of 175,000 miles per year (including bonus miles).
- Purchased miles may take up to 48 hours to post to your MileagePlus account
- Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status
- Miles are nonrefundable
- United miles do not expire
This offer may be targeted, so you may see a different bonus structure. However, here's what we see when purchasing United miles:
- 5,000 to 14,000 miles: receive a 30% bonus
- 15,000 to 39,000 miles: receive a 60% bonus
- 40,000 miles or more: receive a 100% bonus
Who Should Buy United Miles?
If you've read any of our latest posts regarding mileage sales, then it should come as no surprise that we do not recommend buying miles without a specific plan to use them. This is particularly true now while the world sits in anticipation of when we'll be able to travel again, and financial uncertainty affects many of us—United included.
However, there are a couple of exceptions. Buying miles can make sense if you have a specific redemption in mind, and it would cost less to buy the miles than it would cost to buy the flight.
With this promo, the bonus percentages allow members to buy United miles at these prices:
- 30% bonus is approximately 2.69¢ per mile (not good at all)
- 60% bonus is approximately 2.19¢ per mile (not horrible, but still expensive)
- 100% bonus is approximately 1.75¢ per mile (great price for the right redemptions)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Porto (OPO) for 77,000 miles in business class
- New York (JFK) to Cape Town (CPT) for 88,000 miles in business class
- San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (NRT) for 121,000 miles in first class
With the 100% buy miles bonus, you could buy the miles necessary for these redemptions for:
- Las Angeles (LAX) to Porto (OPO) — $1,365 in business class
- New York (JFK) to Cape Town (CPT) — $1,540 in business class
- San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (NRT) — $2,135 in first class
There are a lot of situations where the cost to buy a ticket could be far more expensive than buying miles with this bonus. This is especially true with one-way tickets that often cost more than half the round-trip price.
Maximize Your Purchase
United miles purchases are processed by Points.com, so your purchase will not qualify for any standard travel category bonus. However, if you happen to hold a United co-branded credit card, purchasing miles will qualify as a United purchase, earning the appropriate multiplier. Just make sure to select the “MileagePlus Visa” option from the dropdown list.
If you don't hold a United co-branded card—or you'd simply prefer to collect another award currency—then your best options are to use the purchase to meet a minimum spend requirement, or use a card optimized for everyday spending. Two of our favorite everyday spending cards include the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and Citi® Double Cash Card.
Other Ways to Get United Miles
If you're not in a bind for time and looking to build your stash of United miles, a better method might be through earning a sign-up bonus on a United co-branded credit card. The United℠ Business Card currently comes with a signup bonus of 60,000 after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- Earn 60,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases and enjoy $0 intro annual fee.
- Receive a 5,000-mile better-together anniversary bonus when you have the United Business Card and a personal United credit card.
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases, at gas stations, office supply stores, restaurants (including eligible delivery services), and on local transit and commuting.
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. Enjoy no blackout dates - plus, miles never expire for MileagePlus® members.
- Free checked bag - save up to $140 per roundtrip. (Terms apply.)
- 2 United Club℠ one-time passes after account opening and on each anniversary* - over a $100 value per year.
- $100 United travel credit after qualifying purchases, 25% back on United in-flight purchases and priority boarding.
- Add employee cards at no additional cost - miles earned from their purchases accrue in your account and you can set individual spending limits on each card.
- 2x on United purchases
- 2x on local transit and commuting- including train tickets, taxicabs, mass transit, tolls and ride share services
- 2x at gas stations, restaurants and office supply stores
- 1x on all other purchases
Additionally, don't forget that United is a 1:1 transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be converted to United miles if you need a top-up for a redemption.
For the majority of people, buying miles probably doesn't make sense right now—even at the best rate ever offered. Nevertheless, with international travel slowly starting to come back, this could present a good opportunity in the right circumstances.
Are you planning to buy United miles through this promotion?
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