United Increases The Number Of Miles You Can Buy By 67%….But Only For Overseas Accounts

United MileagePlus

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One of the benefits of having a genuine address outside of the US is that I can use it for my United MileagePlus account. While having a foreign address on your American Airlines AAdvantage account makes little or no difference, with United (and Delta) it means that you don’t have to meet the minimum qualifying spend criteria for elite status.

However, it’s not all good news for us foreign account holders.

If we ever feel the need to buy miles in one of United’s frequent sales we’re often charged considerably more per mile than our US-based counterparts.

Take the current abomination of a sale that I wrote about yesterday as an example.

In the US version of the sale the best rate at which you can buy miles is 2.69 cents/mile but, if you thought that was bad, just take a look at this like for like comparison:

100,000 miles in the US costs $3,762.50 and nets you 140,000 miles including the bonus:

That works out at 2.69 cents/mile.

100,000 miles in the UK costs £3,114.28 and, just as in the US, nets you 140,000 miles when you add on the bonus:

That works out at 2.22 pence/mile or 2.96 cents/mile.

That’s 10% more expensive!

But, if you don’t mind being ripped of and overpaying for your miles, it turns out there is one other advantage to having an overseas account.

Here are the T&C’s for the US mileage sale:

And here are the T&Cs for the UK mileage sale:

The red boxes make it easy to spot the difference 🙂

In the UK you can buy up to 178,000 before the bonus while in the US you can only buy 107,000 and in the UK T&C there’s no mention of the 150,000 mile annual limit.

In truth I didn’t really notice this until I decided to work out how much the miles were being sold for (which is when I noticed how many I could buy)….but the increased limit is actually there right from the moment you log in.

Here’s a screenshot from a US account after accessing the “buy miles” webpage:

And here’s a similar screenshot from a UK account:

Forgive my ignorance if this has been like this for a while but I haven’t noticed it before and a quick web search didn’t pull anything up…so this could be very new.

Bottom Line

From a positive point of view those with foreign-based MileagePlus accounts (or at least those with UK MileagePlus accounts) can now buy enough miles for two roundtrip Business Class awards between Europe and the US on United operated flights (115,000 miles each).

The downside is that the miles cost far too much to make this increased limit any use.

Europeans frequently have access to transatlantic Business Class sales where the fares are well under $2,000 roundtrip (like here and here), so why would anybody pay over $3,400 for 115,000 miles in a sale like this one to buy a Business Class award ticket? They’d have to be certifiable!

If you have a non-US and non-UK MileagePlus account would let us know in the comments if you too have an increased limit. It would be good to confirm if all overseas accounts have the new limit or if this is limited to the UK.