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United MileagePlus has just announced their latest promotion on the purchase of miles. Through August 15, 2016, United is offering up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles, which is an opportunity to purchase miles for as little as ~1.88 cents each.
United’s bonus on purchased miles is tiered, as follows:
- Buy 5,000-14,000 miles, get a 25% bonus
- Buy 15,000-29,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
- Buy 30,000-75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus
As you can see, you have to purchase at least 30,000 miles (pre-bonus) to get the 100% bonus.
If you max out the promotion you can purchase a total of 150,000 miles for $2,821.88, which is a cost of ~1.88 cents per mile.
You’re limited to purchasing a total of 150,000 MileagePlus miles per account per calendar year, and the 100% bonus counts towards that limit.
Personally I value United MileagePlus miles at ~1.4 cents each, so this is about my valuation. However, as is usually the case with purchasing miles, you’ll want to crunch the numbers for yourself, as everyone has different valuations depending on their redemption patterns. A few years back United greatly devalued international first class redemptions on partner airlines, so generally the award chart sweet spots are:
- First & business class travel on United flights
- Business class travel on partner airlines to Europe, Asia, etc., which is still relatively reasonably priced
Redeem United miles for EVA Air business class to Asia
The purchase of MileagePlus miles is processed by points.com, meaning it doesn’t count as airfare for the purposes of your credit card. Therefore you’ll want to use a card which maximizes your return on everyday spend, rather than one which maximizes your return on airfare. This includes cards like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, Chase Freedom® Unlimited, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Citi® Double Cash Card, etc.
A 100% bonus is generally as good as it gets with United miles. So while I’m sure we’ll see a similar promotion again at some point, I doubt we’ll see a better one anytime soon. I wouldn’t recommend speculatively buying United miles for ~1.88 cents each, though with a specific use in mind it could represent a good deal.
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the AmEx Everyday Preferred has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.