Limited Time: New United Buy Miles Promotion Offers Up to a 67% Bonus

May 31, 2017

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – View the current offers here.

Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one option for growing your account balance. While it’s increasingly harder to earn miles from flying, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying — whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining rewards programs. If these methods leave you short of your travel goals, you can also purchase miles directly from an airline.

United just launched a new buy miles bonus, but you’re going to have to hurry if you’re interested. Now through June 2, you can purchase United MileagePlus miles with up to a 67% bonus. The regular price for buying United miles is 3.76 cents per mile ($35 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax). But, with the 67% bonus, this promotion will drop the price down to 2.26 cents per mile.

Now through June 2, get up to 60,000 bonus miles.
Now through June 2, get up to 60,000 bonus miles.

As United will sometimes do targeted promotions, we checked around the office to see what offers everyone got. We all have the same offer:

  • Buy 5,000-14,000 miles (20% bonus) at 3.14 cents per mile
  • Buy 15,000-29,000 miles (40% bonus) at 2.69 cents per mile
  • Buy 30,000-90,000 miles (67% bonus) at 2.26 cents per mile

Is It Worth It?

In the latest valuations, TPG pegs United miles at 1.5 cents each. While you can get better valuations than this for certain redemptions, it’s hard to justify buying miles at 2.26 cents per point. You’re limited to buying just 150,000 miles per year, and bonus miles count toward this maximum.

United has reliably run more-generous promotions, including 100% bonus promos. If you max out the purchase on this sub-par promotion, you won’t be able to take advantage of better opportunities for the rest of the year.

So, I’d recommend passing this time around unless you needed a small amount of miles to top off your account for a redemption or if you’re desperate for United miles and have a high-value award in the works. If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards, transferring UR points to United is a better option — especially if you need the miles right away.

Snag 50,000 miles at the 67% bonus.
Snag 50,000 miles at the 67% bonus.

If you’re planning to utilize this promotion, here’s how to do so:

  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 Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express’s 2x Membership Rewards on the first $50,000 per year; then 1x thereafter or Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash back would be the most rewarding choice.

Are you going to buy miles during this promotion?

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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