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United just launched its newest buy miles promotion. Now through April 30, 2021, MileagePlus members have the chance to buy United miles with up to an 85% bonus. If maximized, you'll effectively pay as little as 2.03¢ per mile. But, is this worth it? Let's take a look.
- Promotion is valid through April 30, 2021, 11:59 p.m. CST
- Minimum purchase is 2,000 miles
- To receive an 85% bonus, you must purchase at least 40,000 miles
- The bonus percentage depends on the number of miles purchased
- You can purchase 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 promotion may be targeted, but at least some MileagePlus members are getting the following bonuses when purchasing United miles:
- 3,000 to 14,000 miles: receive a 30% bonus
- 15,000 to 39,000 miles: receive a 50% bonus
- 40,000 miles or more: receive an 85% bonus
Who Should Buy 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 miles at these prices:
- 30% bonus is approximately 2.89¢ per mile (not good at all)
- 50% bonus is approximately 2.51¢ per mile (still quite expensive)
- 85% bonus is approximately 2.03¢ per mile (meh price, but OK 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
If you utilize the 85% buy miles bonus, you could buy the miles necessary for these redemptions for:
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Porto (OPO) — $1,566 in business class
- New York (JFK) to Cape Town (CPT) — $1,790 in business class
- San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (HND) — $2,461 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℠ Explorer Card currently comes with a signup bonus of up to 65,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
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 with an 85% bonus. However, for the right award redemption, it can make sense to buy miles at 2.03¢ each.
Are you planning to buy United miles through this promotion?
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