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United’s MileagePlus program is back with yet another mileage sale but this time the promotion offers a little bit more than normal.
The last MileagePlus sale offered me a bonus of up to 60% (others may have been targeted for better bonuses) while the latest sale is offering a bonus of up to 75%. On top of this there’s a chance to win 1,000,000 miles in a sweepstake plus $9,800 to help cover any taxes incurred should you be the lucky winner.
The sweepstakes promotion is only open to the residents of the US
United MileagePlus Miles Sale Rules
- The promotion is valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on 9 March 2018.
- Maximum allowable purchase (excluding bonus) is 85,000 miles.
- Bonus Miles will generally be credited to your MileagePlus account when the transaction is complete
- Maximum number of miles that can be purchased in a calendar year is 150,000 and bonus miles count towards this total.
- Miles are non-refundable.
- Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status.
- GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents.
MileagePlus Sweepstake Rules – In Brief
- Open to legal residents of the 50 states
- Ends 11:59 p.m. CT on 9 March 2018
- Two methods of entry:
- Via Purchase. During the Sweepstakes Period, complete a “Buy Personal Miles” transaction via buymiles.mileageplus.com and you will automatically receive one (1) entry into the Sweepstakes for a purchase up to 29,000 MileagePlus Miles and two (2) entries for a purchase of 30,000 or more MileagePlus Miles.
- Via Mail. Mail a sealed envelope (postmarked on or before the last day of the Sweepstakes Period) including a page or postcard with your first and last name, mailing address, phone number, email address, and date of birth and a reference to the “MileagePlus Miles Sweepstakes” to MileagePlus Miles Sweepstakes, Dept 3899, PO Box 23806, Rochester, NY, 14692-3806. No metered mail will be accepted. All mail-in entries must be postmarked by March 9, 2018 and received by March 15, 2018. No copies, facsimiles or mechanical reproductions will be accepted. Limit one (1) entry per outer mailing envelope. Each page/postcard will receive two (2) entries into the grand prize draw.
- There is one (1) Grand Prize available to be won. The Grand Prize consists of 1,000,000 MileagePlus Miles and $9,800 cash which may be used to help offset any tax liability. The Grand Prize has an estimated retail value of $29,800 USD.
- On or about April 9, 2018, the Sponsor or an independent agency acting on Sponsor’s behalf will select one (1) potential winner in a random drawing of all valid entries received, and such potential winner will be notified approximately one (1) day after the drawing.
Buying Miles – The Math
- Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles and get a 25% bonus + 1 sweepstakes draw
- Buy 15,000 – 29,000 miles and get a 50% bonus + 1 sweepstakes draw
- Buy 30,000 – 85,000 miles and get a 75% bonus + 2 sweepstakes draws
To purchase miles at the best rate per mile you need to buy between 30,000 and 85,000 miles and, within this band, the cost per mile remains constant.
If you were to buy the full 85,000 miles allowed in this sale it would cost $3,198.13….
…and you would net 148,750 miles after the bonus is applied.
That equates to approximately 2.15 cents per mile.
Buying just 30,000 miles would still qualify you for the 75% bonus and would cost $1,128.75….
…and would net 52,500 miles.
Once again this equates to a cost of 2.15 cents per mile.
Is It Worth Buying Miles In This Sale?
I value United miles higher than I value miles from the other two legacy carriers but I still don’t value them as high as 2.15 cents each so. What this means is that, unless I could see a specific use for the miles which would save me money, I wouldn’t buy miles in this sale.
That doesn’t mean that this sale won’t be useful to some.
Most of my travels are pretty flexible so I don’t usually find myself in a position where I’m forced to purchase fares that cost considerably more than I’m normally happy to pay….but this isn’t the case for a lot of travelers.
Premium cabin fares are usually expensive (and can sometimes be outrageously expensive) so, if you absolutely have to fly when fares are not in your favor, miles can save the day.
As an example, roundtrip non-stop Business Class fares between San Francisco and London for May 2018 (on any airline) are currently pricing at over $3,500….
…..but, if you can find a Business Class United Saver award for dates that work for you, it would set you back just 120,000 miles + taxes.
120,000 miles in this promotion would set you back $2,580 and, even when you add in taxes, that constitutes a very nice saving over the cash fare.
Even if you were to book a Business Class saver award on a Star Alliance partner (which costs 140,000 miles) you may be able to save some cash….although once taxes are added it may be too close to make it worthwhile.
Similarly, if you take the example of a roundtrip non-stop Business Class fare between Chicago and Hong Kong in September, the best fare you’ll find is a ridiculous $7,110:
If you’re lucky enough to find a saver award on United it will set you back 150,000 miles + taxes and, in this sale, the miles would cost $3,225.
Taxes on this route would be minimal so the savings could be fantastic….as long as you can find award availability in the first place.
The only times buying miles in this promotion may be a reasonable idea are:
- To top up a MileagePlus account with a small number of points.
- To book an award to save money over a cash fare that you would otherwise have to buy.
If you fall into one of those two categories then here a link to buy some miles, if you don’t then this promotion is probably not for you.
Most importantly: Do your research before you buy any miles and make sure the award you want to book is actually available.