Should You Transfer Points to United MileagePlus?

Through November 30, 2013, United MileagePlus is offering a 25% bonus on the conversion of hotel and car rental points to MileagePlus. Registration is required, and you can earn up to 20,000 bonus miles through this promotion. There are nearly a dozen United MileagePlus hotel and car rental points transfer partners, so there are potentially quite a few options.

United MileagePlus-Bonus

Generally speaking there are only two instances where this will be a good deal, as there are much better uses of other points currencies in my opinion:

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards points can be converted into United MileagePlus miles at the following ratios:

  • 8,000 points to 3,200 miles
  • 17,500 points to 7,000 miles
  • 30,000 points to 12,000 miles

Wyndham Rewards is even selling points with a 20% bonus right now. Through this promotion you can purchase 48,000 points for $440, which can ordinarily be converted into 19,200 MileagePlus miles. Factoring in the 25% bonus offered through this promotion, that would be 24,000 MileagePlus miles for $440, which is ~1.83 cents per MileagePlus mile, which is about the lowest price I’ve ever seen for purchasing MileagePlus miles.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott Rewards offers flight and hotel packages which are a pretty good value to begin with, whereby you get a set number of free nights at a certain category hotel in addition to some miles. Since Marriott Rewards and United MileagePlus announced their new partnership back in July, you even get 10% bonus miles on points transfers.

The chart for MileagePlus packages looks as follows:

Marriott_Packages

So on top of that you’d get a 25% bonus, up to 20,000 miles, which is potentially really lucrative.

Other programs…

Aside from that I don’t really see any circumstances under which transferring points from other programs would be a good deal. Starwood points convert into MileagePlus miles at a 2:1 ratio, Hyatt points are too valuable to convert into airline miles, and Club Carlson, Hilton, and Choice points just aren’t very good values for mileage transfers.

Comments

  1. What about UR points? Seems like a good option to transfer points to a hotel (e.g., Marriott) and then United…better than straight to UA from UR, right?

  2. Hmm… That Wyndham offer is pretty tempting. Any ways around 40,000 cap? It looks like they have 40K limit on purchased/gifted points so buying 40K + being giften 40K won’t work but do they have a thing like SPG where you can transfer points to someone else if you have the same addres? Don’t see anything like that.

  3. @ Rachael- I don’t think that’s a good transfer. Ultimate Rewards transfers to Marriott at 1:1, but Marriott transfers to United at a ratio of 2.24 to 4:1.

    I have to go check my Marriott account to see if I am close to a reward stay or if I should just transfer out the orphan points.

  4. @ Rachel — As tp points out, unfortunately Marriott Rewards points don’t transfer to United MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio, or else it would indeed be a good deal.

  5. @ Ivan Y — Unfortunately I don’t believe Wyndham allows household accounts or household transfers, though I could be wrong on that.

  6. I went ahead and transferred 24,000 Marriott points (to 10,000 MP miles).

    The 10,000 miles showed up in my UA MP account pretty quickly (<24 hours), but the bonus did not come along with the initial transfer.

  7. @ Lark – Bonus Miles will be credited into the member’s account on or before January 31, 2014. Its in the T&C…

  8. @Lucky,
    As a marriott plat number, I have 400K+ points but I am not able to spend 7 reward nights until Dec (when my family will stay at Orlando for 12 nights). So, what I am considering now is to simply transferring Marriott points into MileagePlus.

    Question: what are sweet spots for MileagePlus? Are there great deals similiar or comparable to US Airways 90K miles business class flight b/t US and Asia with a European stopover, or US Airways 110K business class from NYC to Sydney with a New Zealand or Asia stopover?

  9. @ Andy — Generally the best value is for:
    — US to Asia via Europe with a stopover
    — US to Australia via Asia with a stopover

    Keep in mind United allows both a stopover and a double open jaw, which can potentially be really valuable.

  10. @Lucky,
    That sounds great. What are the award ticket prices for Asia and Australia and for economy and business class, respectively?

  11. @ Andy — An open jaw is when you fly into one city and out of another, like Los Angeles to Paris and then London to Los Angeles. A double open jaw would be something like Los Angeles to Paris and then London to San Francisco, where you have an open jaw on both sides of the trip.

  12. I bought the Wyndham points and transferred to UA miles, I’m able to get a much higher value than .018 for my UA miles, so this is a great deal for me!

    @Andy a double open jaw would be like sfo-hkg, pvg-sea (I believe anyways…)

  13. @Lucky, Matt,
    Thank you very much for quick explanation.

    When you says United allows both a stopver and a double open jaw, can I do:
    Q1: NY City -> Paris (stopver) -> HongKong; Shanghai -> Washington, DC?

    Q2: Or, ideally, can I do: NY City -> Paris, London -> HongKong; Shanghai -> NY city?

    Q3: How far away do you define the open jaw? Can I replace HongKong both in Q1 and Q2 by Singapore?

  14. @ Andy — You could do the itinerary outlined in Q1, but couldn’t do the one outlined in Q2. That’s because the open jaw has to be at your turnaround point, meaning either your origin or your destination. Since Paris and London are mid-itinerary you couldn’t have your open jaw there.

    For Q3, you can indeed replace Hong Kong with Singapore.

  15. I had a typo in Q2. Let me rewite:

    Q2: Or, ideally, can I do: NY City -> Paris, London -> HongKong; Shanghai -> Hawaii (stopover)-> NY city?

    Q3: How far away do you define the open jaw? Can I replace HongKong both in Q1 and Q2 by Singapore?

  16. @Lucky,
    Sorry to bother you again.

    Q1: I’d like to confirm with you that, United Award flight BOTH ECONOMY and BUSINESS economy and business classes allow both a stopover and a double open jaw? Am I right?

    Q2: you mentioned “Southeast” Asia — does it include Shanghai, China? If I fly from NY city to Shanghai, China by United award flight (roundtrip economy class for 65K), can I fly via Europe? I meant, can I choose transatlantic flight instead of transpacific flight (because I will make a stopver in Europe) when I fly Shangha, China?

  17. typo: Q1: I’d like to confirm with you that, United Award flight BOTH ECONOMY and BUSINESS classes allow both a stopover and a double open jaw? Am I right?

  18. Last Q: What tools are best to search for this United deal (award flight NYC to Shanghai via Europe)? ANA tool or united.com?

  19. @ Andy — A combination of both. The United website is the best place to start, and then if you don’t have any luck you can use the ANA website to search route by route.

  20. Have you done this yourself? I got the Wyndham points, but I’m waiting for the UA miles to transfer over. I know the bonus won’t post for a while, but how long am I waiting for the regular UA points?

  21. @Matt,
    I used to transfer Wyndham points and Club Carlson points into AA. It took a couple of days. I guess that is the norm for most transfer.

    @Lucky,
    What I really want to know is, how fast it could be to transfer Spg points into US Airways miles?

    I shared 250,000 US Airways miles and still need more to book tickets next Feburary to fly to Australia in Dec 2014.

  22. @ Andy — It usually takes about a week for points to transfer from Starwood to US Airways, though it could be a bit faster or slower.

  23. Bought max points and initiated a transfer to United. Been 2 days or so and miles haven’t posted. Not in a major rush but just wanted to give another data point.

    P.S. Writing this from Austrian’s business lounge in Moscow (DME). Not super-fancy but I like it – super-quiet and has a separate computer room.

  24. Thanks for your blog. I’m learning so much! I recently used your booking site to plan a trip to Europe. Very good value by the way. Currently, I have lax to Venice, Barcelona to lax and a lax to ft lauderdale a few months later as my “extra” trip for free.

    Now that I’ve been reading your blog, would it be possible to fly:

    Lax to Venice on our current itinerary, Barcelona to Saigon, then Saigon to lax and throw away the ft lauderdale leg? Currently, I’m already ticketed and have 6 business saver fares which cost 100k each. How many more miles would it cost to add in the Saigon leg?

    Would the airline charge a change fee?

  25. @ Sarah — Thanks so much for using our service, I appreciate it! While you could do an open jaw, you unfortunately couldn’t fly into Venice and out of Barcelona. That’s because the open jaw has to be at your turnaround point, which would be Asia. If this was booked through United the change fee would be $100 for such a change, assuming the routing is legal.

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