Get up to a 50% Bonus When You Buy United Miles

May 18, 2017

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Now through Monday, May 22, you’ll receive up to 50,000 bonus miles when you purchase miles through United. This is a tiered promotion: You’ll get a 25% bonus (up to 8,500 extra miles) when you buy 5,000 to 34,000 miles, and you’ll get a 50% bonus (up to 50,000 extra miles) when you purchase 35,000 to 100,000 miles.

United miles usually cost 3.76 cents apiece ($35 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% federal excise tax), but this current offer lowers the price to as little as 2.5 cents per mile (with the 50% bonus). That’s still higher than TPG’s valuation of this currency (1.5 cents), but if you were planning on buying United miles anyway, you’ll definitely want to nab them at this lower rate.

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If you purchase between 5,000 and 34,000 miles and get the 25% bonus, you’re looking at a per-mile cost of about 3 cents. That’s hardly stellar, but again, it could make sense if you already had plans to top off your MileagePlus account for an upcoming redemption.

Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:

  1. Visit United’s Buy Miles page.
  2. Click on Buy Personal Miles.
  3. Enter your United MileagePlus account number and last name.
  4. Select the number of miles you want to buy and fill in the required information to finalize your purchase.

Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing United miles apply to this promotion, including the following:

  • You must purchase at least 2,000 miles. Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles.
  • Members can only purchase 150,000 miles per account per calendar year, and bonus miles count towards the 150,000-mile annual limit.
  • Miles may take up to 48 hours to post to your account.
  • Purchased or gifted miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status.

Note that the purchase is processed by Points.com, so you won’t get any travel category bonuses from this purchase. Make sure to use the best non-bonus category credit card for your situation. Based on TPG’s valuations, the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points would be the most rewarding choice.

Bottom Line

We never recommend buying miles speculatively — especially since the rates are almost always high — and even with this promo you aren’t necessarily getting a steal on United miles. That said, if you’re just a few thousand miles away from a lucrative award flight, such as a premium seat in the carrier’s Polaris cabin, topping up your account and getting up to a 50% bonus in the process could be worth it.

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