Buy United Miles With Up to a 85% Bonus, 2.03 Cents Per Mile

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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.

buy United miles with up to 85% bonus

Key Terms

  • 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

buy United miles with a 85% bonus starting when you buy 40k miles

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)

Bearing in mind that United recently devalued its MileagePlus program. But even after this devaluation, the new unpublished United partner award chart includes the following award prices:

  • 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
Buying miles can present incredible savings compared to the cash price for the same flight.
Buying miles can present incredible savings compared to the cash price for the same flight.

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.

Bottom Line

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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Comments

  • Avatar

    Another example of how even with a bonus, buying miles tends to be massively overpriced!

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    Phillip Hoare says:

    Great offer. We love the opportunity to buy points as it gets us the benefits of upgrades and award tickets!

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    I will not be buying any united miles at this time. To get value out of united miles one needs to be booking international business saver awards. With COVID-19 restrictions I have no plans for international travel this year.

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    Still not enough stability for me to dip my toes in the buying pool.

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    This is an important subject for people that can afford flying frequently !!! i hope to take this oportunity

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    StantonTurner says:

    I have no experience with using United miles. How hard is it to book a flight when and where you want?

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      You can typically get a domestic flight for 25k miles, However this is usually for the less desirable flight times. To get the the exact time and day that you want you may have to spend more, maybe 35-50k.

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    In times of a pandemic very risky

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    Is this promotion available from Argentina? Thank you

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    sergio lombardi says:

    Good deal

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    Very risky – I think once we get back to some sort of normal, flights will be very very booked, and award seats will be very limited. For now, I will pass on this offer, but thanks for bringing it to our attention

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    I was SO tempted when I saw the email for this but then my brain realized that it would always be a higher amount that I’d have to buy to get that 100% bonus. Not unless I was immediately going to fly somewhere and I really needed a mileage ticket.

    • Avatar

      Well 35000 miles is the minimum to receive a 100% bonus. It’s not a very big amount of miles in my opinion.

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    Miles should be bought again for long-haul premium awards only when overseas travels can be undertaken with no restrictions again.

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    I agree, today the price for flights are quite low.
    Even though there are itineraries where the use of Mileage Plus miles makes sense.

  • Avatar

    I checked award prices for multiple domestic destinations in the USA. It seems like the average value I get per united mile is approximately 1.1 cents. It does not make sense for me to buy United miles at 1.88 cents.

    • Avatar

      Agree! Believe the only use of United miles with good value is on saver awards for international business class flights.

    • Avatar

      … while buying them for overseas long-haul premium flight awards at a date yet to be determined is just too speculative right now.

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    Norman Wheeler says:

    I have found that it is best not to top until you have a trip planned. Not sure if United are the same, but American let you reserve the flight and then purchase the balance miles that you need. I prefer this course simply because of a bad experience in topping up an account and then not being able to spend the miles. The bonus may be tempting but not if you don’t plan to use them.

  • Avatar

    1.88c per mile seems a little high, only buy if you really need them.

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    Are there “serial” mile buyers out there?

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    angelo fonseca says:

    In times of a pandemic, buying 40,000 miles to earn a 100% bonus is risky.

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    Unless you’re topping up a balance for an award in the near future, I’d avoid this offer…gotta say though the best biz class I ever flew in was United 1st class from PEK-ORD ;-)…it was in the nose of a 747 – tres cool!

  • Avatar

    A good price, but I feel these mile purchase promo’s are becoming quite regular and reliable

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    I am not willing to buy miles for speculation. As just recently, Delta Airlines devalued their miles twice in the last quarter.

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    Miguel Angel Baltanas says:

    Great post! I use to buy miles once and a while… whenever I intend to use them, though. This offer, though, looks quite attractive and -indeed- surpasses previous United treats. I am seriously considering.

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    I will not be buying any united miles in the near future. When redeeming united miles for domestic flights I find I get a value of approximately one cent per mile. To buy these united miles at 1.75 cents per mile or more simply does not make sense. I am getting tired of these emails from AA and UA trying to sell their miles.

    • Avatar

      Agreed. In the past, a mileage sale would come around a few times a year. Now, some programs have perpetual mileage sales – and some (like AA) change every few weeks. But we here at AwardWallet want to share the latest details for those trying to figure out if these are a good deal or not.

  • Avatar

    I just cashed in the bulk of my United miles for a family vacation. The best thing United has done recently is getting rid of expiring miles.

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    United is an excellent airline!! This bonus is a good opportunity to add United miles!

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    I was targeted for this offer but I’ll just keep earning Ultimate Rewards points so if my aspirational United redemption disappears, I can do many other things with the flexible points.

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    Gilberto Souza de Morais says:

    It seems both AA and United need extra source of income. In fact, this is exactly the same miles purchase offer as AA previously announced, I.e. 1,75 cents per mile.

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    I still can’t justify even $2300 for a single flight from SFO to Tokyo. Then you have both return travel and travel to even get to SFO. Even at “great” redemption rates, that’s too rich for my blood.

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    I have exitated but in the end I passed as I don’t have any scheduled trips where I could redeem the Mileage Plus miles.

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    Very helpful! I almost got hooked by the “best rate ever” offer, but after reading your post, I was reminded that it’s not a fit for me since I don’t have an immediate need for the miles (and already have a lot). Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar

    his is great! I’m flying to New York soon and I’ll use these points to book it!

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    That’s great, is good business I’ll have to fly soon I’ll take advantage of these points.

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    Peggy Driesen says:

    It’s sure come in handy to purchase a few miles when you’re just short of an award milestone for another ticket!
    Too bad it’s so hard to go anywhere right now!

  • Avatar

    I was about to jump all over this as I am looking for a business class Lufthansa flight from ATL to FRA. However, there are NO Lufthansa flights at all! Only partner flights. Is this to do with COVID? Any ideas when Lufthansa will start flying FRAATL again?

    • Avatar

      Ugh! The route cancellations due to COVID have been so frustrating. At this point, the ATL-FRA route is relaunching on March 1, 2021 – using an Airbus A340-300.

      • Avatar

        Hey JT – thanks for responding. The Lufthansa A340-300 business class is “meh”, right?

        • Avatar

          Yeah. Most of Lufthansa business class (hard product) is pretty meh. It’s only really good on the upper deck of the 747, where the 2-2 arrangement isn’t bad.

      • Avatar

        @JT, do you mind me asking how u found the route relaunch timing answer so quick. Is that just your experience knowing where to look on Lufthansa, for announcements, or do you have a better, universal resource on routes, cancellations and relaunches? Thanks!

  • Avatar

    This is great! I’m flying to New York soon and I’ll use these points to book it!

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    Juan Ignacio says:

    Good deal, Star Alliance has the best airlines’ network. I wish they did the same with AA.

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    The only time I would buy miles is if I needed to top off my account for a international premium saver award.

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    It looks like UA is at least releasing more award seats, which could justify buying miles a little more.

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    This is a good deal however not sure when will it save to fly

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    Earn more miles with your own United credit card 🙂

  • Avatar

    85% more miles is seems good offer, but i have saw a deal to get 100% bonus miles. Isn’t it ?But for now UA are expiry now. That’s would be good to buy some miles.

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    Brilliant news. 85% bonus is really a good deal even though I am not able to fly at the moment.

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    Yeah. I have use UA to redeem a economic class from Tokyo to Tahiti , it’s a long time trip and Tahiti so beautiful that i’d like to go there once again. UA miles easy to use and can be use for expensive trip. Just use 900$ to have return economic to enjoy 3000$ flight ticket.

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    Facundo Pramparo says:

    This looks like a very good deal. I wish they did the same with AA.

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    While united miles are great (probably the best out there), there’s little use for this at the moment as i don’t see myself flying anytime in the future. Real bad timing.

  • Avatar
    Manuel Varela says:

    I think if you get the 100% extra it’s a good deal. I’m really considering buying some miles, although I don’t really know when I’ll be able to travel. Hope that AA announce something similar. Thanks as usual!

  • Avatar

    IMHO UA miles lost their value quite a bit and a 100% bonus doesn’t cut it anymore.
    They need to provide at least 120% bonus to make me think about purchasing their miles once again.

  • Avatar
    Isabela Tiffy says:

    Awesome deal! It’s so cheap price to buy UA miles and I don’t need care it’s will be expiry and UA mile very useful to go to many place and have no oil fee. Thanks for this news.

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    I just don’t see myself doing this. There are too many other ways to get United points. Even for quick top ups, it still might be better to buy some gift cards that you’d use anyway through the UnitedPlus X app.

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    This is best deal I’ve seen from United. I think Delta had something similar earlier. It would be great Air Canada has something like this.

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    thank you for posting. i need some more united miles.

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    Why would you consider buying UA Miles when the current Lifemiles offer, is a far better value?

    • Avatar

      Great question! The LifeMiles offer is certainly excellent. However, there are some award travelers that don’t feel comfortable learning another program or may feel uncomfortable buying LifeMiles since Avianca is in reorganizational bankruptcy. Personally, I’d be going for the LifeMiles. But we want to let our readers know about all of the potential offers out there.

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    Sadly did not get targeted. Love my United miles thou!

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    This is a really good deal, specially with the 100% bonus. Compare this with the value of the credit card miles and you will see. There are plenty of United award seats to Europe in the next 12 months and spending $1400 on a one-way Polaris business class ticket next summer to Europe is a great deal. Too bad it is targeted and I was not targted 🙁

  • Avatar

    I think they will devalue their program again

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    I’d like to buy some miles. Excellent.

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    Hernan Paponi says:

    United as many others are in big problems during these days. I hope the industry can survive the shutdown we all are in. We’ll regret When many of these companies desapear from business or stop Flying to certain places. Hope these promotions help them to Keep in business.

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    Michaelj1 says:

    1.75 per mile is not going to do it for me.

    • Avatar
      JT Genter says:

      Fair enough! Buying miles isn’t going to make sense for a lot of travelers, but we want to share these deals since some travelers do get value out of them!

  • Avatar
    Rodrigo Fraiman says:

    I red that United Airlines miles doesn’t expire.
    Is a temporal decisión or something permanente for ever?

    Thanks

    • Avatar

      T&C always say they can change the terms at any time, for any reason. This is undoubtedly a “perk” that is being used since travel is so risky now. Once it rebounds, I’m sure more strict policy (and expiration dates) will follow suit. They can use your $ that you spend on miles now and ultimately give you something that “will” expire later.

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    MARIA ANA LARRERE says:

    Many thanks for your help. I am glad to hear that United miles does not expire. I think that considering the situation about COVID 19, it would be nice that Aadvantage could postpone the expiration date of our miles. As a traveller I really appreciate what AwardWallet does for us.
    Many thanks for your help! Maria

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    The best rate I´ve seen so far during this time. If you´re planning a trip after the pandemic it´s worth buying.

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    Maybe not the right time for investing money in airlines just to avoid surprises but after this period it´s a good option.

  • Avatar

    Happy to read the United miles will not expire anymore, but I think that they would sell miles at a cheaper rate during this pandemic.
    However, airlines won’t be back to normal operation until the end of this year so It is kind of difficult to buy miles as they might change the terms at any time. Let’s see.

  • Avatar

    What is the best rare anyone has seen on buying united miles???

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    Airlines won’t be back to normal operation until the end of this year. Would avoid buying miles as they might change the terms at any time to reduce risk of filing bankruptcy.

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    Manuel Varela says:

    Ok now this is a good promo! I think United it’s a very big company and will not have big problems after COVID19 so it’s a good option.

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    Even though the miles don’t expire, with the current world crisis there is, buying big amounts of miles doesn’t seem like a smart choise. I will wait on this one.

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    Florencia says:

    I agree that this is not the time to buy miles, even with a specific plan to use them. What happens if the company goes bankrupt? Unfortunately no one is exempt, not even United.

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    i would think that they would sell miles at a cheaper rate during this pandemic. it doesnt make sense to me. im glad they dont expire though.

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    bulstrode says:

    Thought a lot, for sure it’s risky – but decided to try

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    Leonardo Ostropolsky says:

    Happy to read the United miles will not expire anymore!!! Delta does it for so long!
    Thanks

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    Florencia says:

    It is sad, but in this context I would not buy tickets or miles from any airline. many do not survive the covid crisis.

    • Avatar

      I would be blown away if any of United, American, Delta, or Southwest didn’t survive all of this. Airlines are kind of like truckers, without airlines America stops.

      • Avatar

        I agree that they’ll survive, but I wouldn’t buy miles at this time, especially from UA who have shown themselves to be bad actors in regards to their FFP.

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    Karina Cesar says:

    Normally I wouldn´t recommend to buy miles, but with a 75% bonus it could be a good deal

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    Maryjane says:

    I agree that I would not give United my money at this time. (Despite the fact they need it.) I’m going to keep earning Chase UR points and use those if I have an opportunity for a miles redemption on United.

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    Juan Ignacio says:

    Great opportunity, more than ever when UA miles doesn¡t expire anymore.

    Hope all airlines do something similar… so they could store up some money.

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    Absolutely agree. Hard to trust United now (not that they had much to begin with).

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    I wouldn’t purchase any airline miles speculatively in this situation. No one knows if these airlines will survive.

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    With the difficulties I’m having getting a refund for a united ticket… no thanks!! How an airline treats a customer during these difficult times is very telling of where my first choice for travel partners will be… and it’s NOT united. There is NO WAY i’m giving United more $$ for them to hold with devaluing mileage as it is. I moved my primary mileage earning to Alaska Airlines 5+ years ago and haven’t looked back since.

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    Not even interested this time around! Just too much hassle with United over getting my last tickets during pandemic refunded and reimbursed!

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    This is a good way for United to store up some more cash to weather the Covid slowdown. Hope this works.

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    One would assume UA would sell miles at a cheaper rate than usual these days, but selling them at a higher price is quite puzzling.

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    They very much need the extra cash, so I wonder why they launched a targeted offer.

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    Glad to hear that the United Miles don’t expire anymore, I’m a hoarder!