United offering 40% off the purchase of miles through October 31, 2012

In what seems to be a reoccurring promotion over the past few months, United is offering up to a 40% discount on the purchase of MileagePlus miles through October 31, 2012. You must use the links on this page in order to qualify for the discount.

They’re offering a 20% discount on the purchase of up to 30,000 MileagePlus miles, and a discount of 40% on the purchase of 30,000 or more MileagePlus miles.

With this promotion between 30,000 and 100,000 United MileagePlus miles can be purchased per account for 2.1 cents each, plus a 7.5% excise tax, for a grand total of ~2.25 cents per mile.

This isn’t “steal,” though this is about as cheap as United miles get. United miles are among the most valuable mileage currencies out there, so if you need to top off an account (with 30,000+ miles), this is a great promotion through which you can do so. If you’re going to buy fewer than 30,000 miles and have a card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points, you’re better off purchasing Ultimate Rewards points and transferring them to United.


  1. Ben,

    I have 30K miles — since I have a 200K AA miles, is it worth it to purchase 37.5K miles for $750 so I can have a first class one way ticket avail to Europe/Asia if I need it?

  2. @ Michael — I’d try to accrue those miles more efficiently if I were in your shoes since it doesn’t sound like you have an immediate use, like through a transfer from Ultimate Rewards.

    That being said, if that’s not an option and you can see yourself redeeming for a first class award to Asia or Europe on United in the short term, then I’d say this is a good value. Otherwise I’m sure we’ll see another bonus sometime soon.

  3. Isn’t it better to just use the “Buy Extra Miles for this Trip” where it calculates the miles at 2 cents/each?

  4. It requires a bit of tinkering with some dummy bookings, but shouldn’t be to hard to find an option for 2cpm. With 3x or similar card it might even qualify for bonus category spent driving the price a bit lower.

  5. Got my 100k at 40% off over 2 purchases this calendar year. It’s a nice way to build points quickly for use on J/F class award flights.

    BUT – Now I’m worried because UA seems to really have a hard time with getting things right when award flights are with * Alliance partners. I’m sitting on my award flight in J on SQ on the A380 to Japan next Spring and will probably cancel. I don’t trust UA to have done things right. I’ve checked every way I know how to, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. I will be thoroughly pissed if I show up and my flights are no where to be found in the system.

    I’m wondering if this is why UA keeps having these 40% off sales? The money just lines their pockets and we end up with nothing when we go to “try” to go somewhere. Is that what’s going on? There are many people that have gotten screwed by UA that have posted on FT. It doesn’t seem to be getting better, only worse with Award tickets. I’ve started building MR points with Amex as a result. I just don’t trust what UA is doing…

  6. If I would pay $2257 for a business class ticket to Europe-I would and I have–why would it not absolutely make sense to do this?

    I get your point that there are cheaper ways to accure the miles, but those ways are not mutually exclusive to this. You could do both right?

    What am I missing?

  7. @ John — Because US Airways has a promotion whereby they’re selling the same number of miles for ~$1,900, so it’s quite a bit cheaper. You can read about that here:

    And because Avianca LifeMiles has a promotion whereby you can buy the number of miles needed for a business class ticket to Europe for ~$1,500:

  8. @ DavisCalifJr — While it does happen more with United than other airlines, it’s still *extremely* rare. I wouldn’t be worried. Just make sure your e-ticket looks correct, which most people don’t do (instead they just look at the surface itinerary).

  9. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas discounts on J tickets to Europe, I don’t think it makes sense to buy miles from any FF program for this purpose – just go with the revenue fare.

  10. @ Mike S. — Agree the fares are great, though some of us are cold blooded and don’t do well in cold weather. 😀

  11. Thank you, Ben. I’ll hold on to the award tickets then. Sometimes reading FT can cause one to believe things are much worse 🙂 Not that they are cynical or anything….no, not FT’ers.. 🙂

  12. Thanks for this tip Lucky. But correct me if I am wrong, I thought UR points can only be a one time per member thing, where the maximum is 5000 points. Or is it 5000pt/month?

  13. @ flyer708 — Right, it’s 5,000 per month. More useful for topping off an account or doing if you have time over which you can rack up the points.

    @ Jo — To the best of my knowledge United doesn’t usually sell PQMs.

  14. Jo & Ben- United offered to sell me PQM (online) on my last United flt a few wks ago. It was at a very high $ rate. Also, in previous yrs they have tried to sell me Premier status (through some email) when I was about 10,000 miles short, again at a very high $ rate. I passed on both of these offers.

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