Up To 50% Discount On United Miles

I wrote a post recently about when you should consider buying miles. Buying miles which are on sale can be a great way to get a deal on international first & business class tickets. Generally speaking, the three programs with the best deals on miles are American AAdvantage, Alaska Mileage Plan, and Avianca LifeMiles.

United isn’t an airline which often offers great deals on purchased miles, though at the moment they have one of the better promotions I’ve seen in a while.

Through August 31, 2015, United MileagePlus is offering a discount on the purchase of miles. Different accounts are targeted for different promotions, though the best version of the offer seems to be for up to 50% off the purchase price.


Through that version of the offer, the discounts are tiered based on how many miles you purchase, as follows:

  • Buy 5,000–14,000 miles, save 15%
  • Buy 15,000–29,000 miles, save 25%
  • Buy 30,000–49,000 miles, save 40%
  • Buy 50,000–150,000 miles, save 50%

With the discount of up to 50%, the cost to buy 150,000 miles is ~$2,820, which comes out to ~1.88 cents per mile. That’s not a half bad price. Certainly not a rate at which it makes sense to speculatively purchase miles, but with a specific use in mind it could be a decent deal.

Here are the full terms of the promotion:

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT (Chicago local time) on August 31, 2015
  • Miles are available in increments of 1,000 up to a maximum of 100,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 up to a maximum of 150,000 miles
  • Purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year
  • Price displayed on this page does not include any fees or taxes
  • Price displayed on this page includes all discounts and bonuses
  • Credit card will be billed immediately upon purchase
  • Mileage rates and other fees and offer terms are subject to change
  • Allow 48 hours for miles to process and post to your MileagePlus account
  • Miles are nonrefundable
  • Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status
  • All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply
  • GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents
  • Powered by Points to purchase United MileagePlus miles. Transaction will appear as ‘Points United Miles’

Bottom line

The discount being offered by United varies by account, so you’ll want to take a look and see which version of the offer you were targeted for. If you were targeted for the 50% discount, ~1.88 cents per mile is the best price I’ve ever seen on the purchase of United miles.

It’s still not an especially good deal, though, and certainly not a price at which I’d recommend speculatively picking up miles.

How much do you think United miles are worth? Would you buy them for 1.88 cents each?


  1. I don’t consider myself that much of a miles/points junkie to value my UA miles a certain number since I feel it varies depending on the redemption. 😉 When UA devalued its award chart over a year ago, a few bloggers did mention that there were a few sweet spots. Wandering Aramean, for example, stated HKG-GUM-CNS routing in business class on UA metal would cost 25K after the ‘devaluation’ versus 45K before the changes. If you wanted to fly HKG to CNS on partner metal, the cost would be 30K. For those routes, paying 1.88 cents per mile is like buying a heavily discounted business class ticket. For a roundtrip ticket HKG-CNS, the total cost in business class is 50K UA miles. The cost to buy 50K UA miles during this promotion is roughly $950. On average, however, the cost to buy a r/t business class ticket HKG-CNS for month of September is $3000! I’d say buying those 50K UA miles for 1.88 cents/point is a pretty good deal then from that perspective! 🙂

  2. I have a targeted email from United offering 35%discount. I’ll pass on this as personally My redemptions are always targeted at getting the best class possible to goto India and back. United’s redemptions are mostly via Air India which is not the best of service and requires 160,000 miles in roundtrip business class.

    Right now I feel my best option is buying 100,000 American Miles instead for $2091 with my Citi Dividend card which has the 5% cash back for airlines this quarter. Thats1.98cents a mile. Dilemma is I just got approved for Amex Starwood preferred guest and thinking should I rather buy the miles using Amex card to meet the spend requirements. @Lucky, any suggestions?

  3. I just booked a United miles redemption from the central US to Seoul ICN in Asiana’s “Smartium” business and then returning on United GlobalFirst for 160k miles. (I’m curious to compare the two back-to-back. My theory is that OZ’s good business is nicer than UA first, but I’ll know for sure soon.) Going by the $11k dollar purchase price for that itinerary, that’s 6.9 cents per award mile that I redeemed. Not that I’d have ever paid that, but I’d just about pay the $3k for the 160k miles at 1.88¢ each. So this would be a great way to get an expensive ticket that I’d never pay for, but at a price I might actually pay.

    On the other hand, I did receive the 50% discount offer, and I’m still not planning to use it. So maybe the deal still isn’t quite sweet enough. 1.5¢ each and I’d likely go for it.

  4. Sure. I will buy 150k miles for for $2820. I think its a pretty good deal to fly business from north america to dubai on UA or any of its partners which would o/w xost more.

    This is a similar deal to buying and using alaska airlines miles to fly emirates business class but may be not as plush!

    Wonder why you are not promoting this and highlighting the savings??

  5. @Globetrotter : Which partner of UA would you use to fly to Middle East and aren’t UA asking 80K in Business and 140K in First for One way saver award redemption?…Compare to 90K miles First class for Emirates via Alaska Airlines or Qatar/Etihad via AA !!

  6. Since I’m pretty new to this, please forgive my ignorance. Why is this not a good deal? I fly to Europe quite a bit. In my book, it beats buying a business class ticket. Can you please explain what you mean by speculatively buying. I assume if you bought the miles, you wold use them right away because of the risk of devaluation. You say this is the best you’ve seen. Shall we hold out for better? Thanks! I’m learning.

  7. Also a little new to the game so please bear with the question. I am flying with my wife to EZE in November. I booked economy tickets with miles 5-6 months ago. I have about 25k UA miles and over 100k Chase points that I could transfer, but would prefer to save those for Europe next year. I called UA and they have no saver level awards to upgrade from our current ticket. The agent was very helpful and said if saver awards were available it would only be 100k more for both of us to upgrade round trip. As both flights are red eyes, getting some sleep sounds pretty nice. My question is this, should I purchase UA miles now and keep checking on saver availability as we get closer to the time of the trip (I can always use them for Lufthansa flight to Europe if nothing opens up) or do I wait and bite the bullet and use the Chase points I already have if I want to upgrade for this flight?


  8. I think I am leaning towards it. RT saver award business TATL would be 160K miles, while the cost of a ticket could range $3K-6K, depending. (I often pay for my own ticket so I get the PQM and use miles to get an award for my spouse.) Worst case scenario seems to be the $2.1K for 150K miles plus $1K copay is about the cost of a deeply discounted business class ticket. Plus the miles offer more flexibility to use for two one-ways. Also, I might need to book a ticket to Asia soon, and I don’t have many points on my Chase card to transfer. I might be looking for an award ticket due to the flights being so expensive in business on the dates I am looking.

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