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This United MileagePlus buy miles promotion has ended. However, you can still purchase MileagePlus Miles.
United is back with a new promotion to buy MileagePlus miles. Now through September 17, 2023, MileagePlus members can buy United miles with up to a 100% bonus. At best, you'll effectively pay as little as 1.88¢ per mile — the same cost as the promotion last month. But is this worth it? Let's take a look.
Key Terms to This Buy United Miles Promotion
As United may offer different promotions to different users, check your account — and those of family members if you're in multiplayer mode — to see who has the best deal. The best promotion we see offers up to 100% bonus miles (1.88¢ each) with a maximum of 112,500 miles (before the bonus) in a single purchase.
- Promotion is valid through 11:59 p.m. CT on Sepember 17, 2023.
- You can purchase miles here.
- Per the terms and conditions, you can purchase a maximum of 225,000 miles per calendar year (up from the standard 175,000).
- Purchased miles can take up to 72 hours to post to your MileagePlus account.
- Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status.
- Purchases of United miles are nonrefundable.
- United miles do not expire.
How many miles do you need to buy?
- The minimum purchase amount is 2,000 miles.
- You will need to purchase at least 5,000 miles to receive any bonus.
- Bonuses are tiered; higher bonuses come when purchasing more miles.
- The highest bonus in this promotion is 100%.
- If you are targeted for the best bonus, the purchase rate will be 1.88¢ per mile (if you buy at least 40,000 miles).
Members seeing this 100% bonus offer with a maximum single-purchase amount of 87,500 miles can purchase United miles at the following rates:
- 2,000–4,000 miles: No bonus
- 5,000–14,000 miles: 50% bonus (2.51¢)
- 15,000–39,000 miles: 75% bonus (2.15¢)
- 40,000+ miles: 100% bonus (1.88¢)
Buying at least 40,000 miles provides a cost of 1.88¢ per mile after taxes.
Who Should Buy United Miles?
If you've read any of our posts regarding mileage sales, it will come as no surprise that we do not recommend buying miles without a specific plan in mind.
However, there are a couple of exceptions. Buying miles can make sense if you have a specific redemption in mind and can buy miles for less than the cost of buying a flight. It also can make sense if you need just a few more miles to make your next redemption.
United typically offers different levels of buy-miles bonuses. Here are the rates at which you can buy MileagePlus miles during this promotion:
- A 50% bonus translates to 2.51¢ per mile (terrible).
- A 75% bonus translates to 2.15¢ per mile (still bad).
- A 100% bonus translates to 1.88¢ per mile (a reasonable price for the right redemption).
How to maximize this United buy miles promotion
Bear in mind that United devalued its MileagePlus program in 2020 and made additional devaluations in 2023. However, there's still value to be found. For the cheapest mileage rates, you'll need to stick to flights operated by United on some routes, partners on other routes, or redeem for some MileagePlus sweet spots.
For example, you can fly from Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS) for as few as 80,000 miles in business class:
Or Houston (IAH) to Buenos Aires (EZE) for as few as 80,000 miles in business class:
While United uses dynamic pricing for its own flights, awards on partner airlines still price at relatively predictable rates — as long as there's award availability. Examples of the unpublished United partner award chart include the following award prices:
- Chicago (ORD) to Porto, Portugal (OPO) for 88,000 miles in business class
- Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT) for 88,000 miles in business class
- Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (HND) for 110,000 miles in business class
If you utilize the 100% bonus (1.88¢ per mile), you could buy the miles necessary for these redemptions for:
- Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS): $1,504 in business class
- Houston (IAH) to Buenos Aires (EZE): $1,504 in business class
- Chicago (ORD) to Porto (OPO): $1,654 in business class
- Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT): $1,654 in business class
- Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (HND): $2,068 in business class
There are many situations where the cost of buying a ticket could be far more expensive than buying miles with this bonus. And this is especially true with one-way tickets that often cost more than half the round-trip price.
Maximize Your Purchase
United doesn't sell its own miles directly, instead selling through Points.com. Unfortunately, this won't count as an airfare or travel purchase on your credit card. For this purchase, consider one of these credit cards:
- Any credit card where you're working on a welcome bonus. These are the best welcome offers available right now.
- Any credit card with perks you can unlock from spending, such as hotel free night awards, hotel elite status, or airline elite status.
- Your best credit card for everyday spending, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Other Ways to Get United Miles
If you're not in a bind for time and are looking to build your stash of United miles, a better method might be to earn a sign-up bonus on a United co-branded credit card. The United℠ Explorer Card currently comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Additionally, don't forget that United is a 1:1 transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be converted to United miles for your next redemption. Points transfer from Chase to United 1:1 and process instantly.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, and 2x on all other travel purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
- Member FDIC
- 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2025
- 5X points on travel purchased through Chase
- 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide
- 3X points on eligible streaming services
- 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- 2X points on all other travel
- 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
For most people, buying miles probably doesn't make sense unless there's a specific use in mind. This 100% bonus promotion matches the best offer we've seen to buy United miles. However, there are better ways for most travelers to get United miles than buying them at 1.88¢ each.
For travelers who have tapped out all other sources, though, it can make sense to buy miles for the right award redemption.
Are you planning to buy United miles for 1.88¢ apiece through this promotion?
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