United Offering 100% Bonus On Purchased Miles Through August 15, 2016

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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 CardChase Freedom Unlimited®Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Citi® Double Cash Card, etc.

Bottom line

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.

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  1. Lucky, do you know if miles purchased through award accelerator count toward the 150,000 annual limit for purchased miles?

  2. When I logged in to purchase miles. Mine says I get a 60% bonus from 15,000-29,000 miles instead of 50%.

  3. North Asia to Oz/NZ in First/Biz became cheaper after the devaluation and may be a good use of this promo

  4. “Since United miles purchases are processed by Points.com, they’re not eligible for bonus rewards with cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card.”

    I see a similar statement on your affiliated Points Guy website. Has the statement been proven as a fact or is it speculation? I ask because I earned 2X miles on my Chase United Mileage Club Card back in December when United ran a similar promotion and I purchased miles. The purchase showed up on my statement with “United” being the merchant.

  5. @MC, that’s interesting given the other recent post about SPG cards earning bonus points for buying starpoints at points.com. I wonder if this hapens consistently with co-branded cards for purchases at points.com.

  6. I want to fly business or first class next year Anchorage to Cebu City Philippines. Would u suggest buying United Miles on this promo or buying AK miles when they go back on sale? I prev bought 300 k miles from AK on a 50% bonus and will fly Cathay there this year ( Business Class)

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